Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald took a moment to chat with Jim Greer, the deeply embarassed and criminally charged, former head of the Florida Republican Party about a little financial deal that was arranged for George LeMieux.
The conversation was not pretty.
First, let's all understand that Greer is cranky. He believes a bunch of folks, including LeMieux, threw him under the bus. So, it is not surprising that Greer may no longer be in the mood to defend the folks who cheerfully put him in charge of the party.
But some facts are not in dispute.
After LeMieux left his position as chief of staff to Gov. Charlie Crist, he was awarded a Republican Party contract worth $150,000 a year.
The question arose - what in the world was LeMieux doing for the cash?
Now let's stipulate, this is not an unusal agreement. Party contracts have been a nice way to pad the incomes of folks loyal to a sitting governor. Often they do very little in exchange for these hefty fees. If political contributers ever looked closely at how their money is spent, some would have a stroke.
On Sunday, LeMieux appeared on Tampa political show on Bay News 9. According to Caputo, when asked about the $150,000 contract, LeMieux said:
"I helped the Republican Party on outreach issues to Hispanics, to African-Americans. I still advised the governor's office on things that were more political.
"Jim Greer came to me in 2009 and said there wasn't any more money left to keep me on board. Maybe we know now why that was, because the money was going someplace else," he said, referring to the pending criminal charges against Greer for allegedly stealing from the party.
Now the idea that LeMieux was doing minority outreach strikes some as fanciful. If the party was seriously interested in Hispanic and African-American outreach, hiring the whitest guy you know might seem a bit odd.
Caputo called Greer.
"Minority outreach -- is he kidding?
Sounds like Greer has a different view.
"Here are the facts: I was instructed to give George a $10,000 month contract which was common practice . He provided no service whatsoever regarding minority outreach or any thing else of value that I was aware of."
LeMieux's campaign told Caputo, " . . .George LeMieux provided advice to the Republican Party of Florida in 2008 and early 2009 on a wide variety of topics, including minority outreach.”
There is much more and you would be amiss not to read Caputo's story.
None of this is good news for LeMieux. The former U.S. Senator, who is struggling to get his job back ina tough Republican primary against Adam Hasner, is already forced to spend entirely too much time defending his relationship with Crist.
Now, when Tea Party voters and others are weary of sweetheart deals, LeMieux is going to have to spend time explaining what he did for the money.
Bonus points to whomever of Crowley Political Report's clever readers predicts when we will see the first web ad on this topic.
One other thing - you can be certain that Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is taking notes.
Art by Patrick Crowley
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