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Crist, LeMieux Linked To Fraud, Money Laundering

By Tom Tillison
Orlando Political Press

Florida’s sitting governor and a sitting senator are now in danger of being indicted for theft, fraud, and money laundering.

Now that Jim Greer has been arrested, he has apparently decided that he’s not going down alone. Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase, said Saturday that Crist’s former right-hand man, now U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, first proposed the idea that they earn a fundraising commission to save the party money and replace the $30,000-a-month contract with fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke.

Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising role with the state party – according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he “didn’t know anything” about the deal now part of a criminal investigation.“You guys work hard. You deserve it,” Chase said Greer was told by the governor as they played pool in February 2009 at a Palm Beach golf tournament.

Crist, an independent candidate for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat, said Saturday that he didn’t know about Victory Strategies until after Greer resigned in January. He said he knew Greer wanted to replace O’Rourke with Johnson, but was unaware that they set up a separate company and that Greer had a stake in it.

LeMieux said it was not true that he came up with the idea for the company. “I first learned about it when I read about it in the newspapers” earlier this year, he said Saturday. He said he was only aware that Johnson could earn more money if he met fundraising targets.

For Greer to point a finger at Crist and LeMieux, his political benefactors who stood by him for months amid cries for his ouster, amounts to yet another dramatic twist in a scandal that has tainted the Florida GOP and roiled the 2010 election season.

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