1. Florida Politics

John Romano: Jim Greer's story of Florida Republican Party scandal is getting stale

Jim Greer, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is finishing the final stretch of an 18-month prison sentence. 
Jim Greer, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is finishing the final stretch of an 18-month prison sentence. 
Published Apr. 29, 2014

Now, he's ready to talk.

After the judge put down his gavel, the cameras left the room and the power brokers, presumably, convinced him that discretion was in his best interest.

Now, Jim Greer is ready to tell all.

The former leader of the state Republican Party, finishing the final stretch of an 18-month prison sentence for dipping into the GOP's coffers, has a book ready to hit the shelves.

Now, do you care?

Fifteen months ago, Greer was the talk of the state. He was threatening to tell every dirty secret from every dark corner of Florida at his trial. He was bragging that the movers ought to be worried and the shakers should be shaking.

And then he inexplicably entered a guilty plea before the fun ever began. Greer went to prison, politicians went back to work and accountability went missing.

He swore that his guilty plea was meant to spare his family any more heartache, but the cynical — and probably logical — assumption was that Greer was handed a financial incentive by political bigwigs to take his sordid tales with him to prison.

So, let's start there.

If Greer, 51, wants us to believe his soon-to-be-published stories of shenanigans and betrayals, then he needs to fully explain why he wasn't willing to defend himself in a courtroom. And why he let those supposed scoundrels off the hook in 2013.

For a man whose credibility is already worn thin, it is essential that he come clean about any circumstances that caused him to change his tune on the eve of his trial. Otherwise, his claims will be as suspect as his motivations.

According to Amazon's website, where the Orlando Sentinel first discovered the book's existence, The Chairman is a "Shakespearean tale of friendship and betrayal to rival Hamlet.'' The blurb describes Charlie Crist as Greer's benefactor and also the man who eventually stabbed him in the back.

Author Peter Golenbock, a St. Petersburg resident with numerous bestsellers on his resume, was coy about the book Monday. He said the interviews with Greer were done after the guilty plea but before he entered prison.

Golenbock — who said the book will be released on June 20 and not on June 1, as Amazon said — described it as a look at the inner workings of a political party. When asked about the portrayal of Crist, he paused for several seconds.

"There are some aspects of the book that treat him kindly,'' Golenbock said. "There are other aspects that detail when he didn't do the right thing.''

Does the book have the potential to damage Crist's run for governor? Crist's camp seemed so dismissive of Greer's claims that it didn't even entertain the question.

My guess is the book will be a minor headache for Crist. There will be unflattering stories and maybe a shady insinuation. But, at this point, it's hard to imagine any earth-shaking revelations. Especially when everyone else will be rushing forward to suggest that we consider the source.

Greer had his chance last year to place his hand on a Bible and tell the truth in a courtroom. He had a chance to defend himself and point a finger at his enemies.

For whatever reason, he didn't do that. Now, all these months later, he wants your attention. Fair enough. Just as long as he understands that even scandals have expiration dates.