Jim Greer sues two law firms over RPOF ouster, consulting contract

Published Feb. 28, 2012

TALLAHASSEE — Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer has filed lawsuits against two Tallahassee law firms seeking damages for advice he says he got before he lost his job as head of the state party.

Damon Chase, a Lake Mary lawyer, filed the suits in Leon County Circuit Court against Ausley & McMullen, the law firm where Republican Party of Florida lawyer Jason Gonzalez works and Gray Robinson, an Orlando law firm that drew up the paperwork for Victory Strategies, a political consulting company Greer formed with a subordinate.

Greer, now facing criminal charges in connection with money the party paid to Victory Strategies, has already filed a civil suit against the Republican Party, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher. GOP lawyers will be in court in Seminole County Wednesday seeking a change of venue that would move the case to Tallahassee.

The new lawsuits seek damages in excess of $15,000 from each law firm. Greer accuses the Ausley firm and Gonzalez of misleading him during negotiations over a severance agreement that was supposed to pay him $124,000 in return for his resignation.

Greer says he was advised by Ausley lawyers to remove any mention of Victory Strategies from the agreement and urged by the firm to destroy copies of it after it was signed by party leaders. Greer claims that lawyers from the firm later lied when asked about the existence of the agreement and urged him to remain silent about it. Ken Hart, managing partner at the Ausley firm, declined to comment.

Greer was later indicted by a statewide grand jury for shifting more than $300,000 from party accounts to Victory Strategies. He faces trial July 30 in Orlando. Now he accuses the firm of "severely and irreparably damaging'' his reputation.

His lawsuit against the party is an attempt to collect the $124,000 party leaders promised him.

The lawsuit against Gray Robinson accuses the firm of improperly disclosing documents relating to the formation of Victory Strategies and a contract the business had with the party.

A spokesman for Gray Robinson said the firm protects all communications with clients and disclosed the information only after Victory Strategies' only officer agreed to cooperate with law enforcement officials and waived the attorney client privilege on behalf of the corporation.

Delmar Johnson, then the executive director of the party, hired Gray Robinson to create the corporation and later agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the criminal case pending against Greer.