The furor over the still unreleased Republican Party of Florida audit this past weekend prompted the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist to take several shots at rival Marco Rubio. After a closed door session on Saturday, the party said it may sue to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars that Crist and former chairman Jim Greer spent on non-party related travel expenses.
Danny Kanner, a spokesman for Crist, said the party should worry about whether or not Rubio is under investigation for the way he used his Republican Party of Florida issued credit card instead of inferring that Crist may need to pay back thousands of money to the party. The Crist campaign says the move by the party is a political payback aimed at Crist, who bolted the party to run as an independent.
Rubio, however, flatly insisted on Friday that he is not under investigation by either the FBI and IRS - and he boldly predicted that he never will be.
"It's just not true,'' said Rubio following his well-received speech at the 2010 Victory Dinner at Walt Disney World. "I have never been contacted by anyone. I'm not going to because it's not true."
Rubio continued to insist that he used his RPOF credit card for “political purposes” and that the “few instances” that it wasn’t that it was “paid back at the time.”
It's clear, however, that there is some type of investigation into party finances that has been underway for some time now. And Al Hoffman, a former U.S. ambassador and top fundraiser for the party, said at the Saturday RPOF meeting that he has been questioned by both the FBI and IRS about party spending matters.
It's just another reminder that despite RPOF chairman John Thrasher's bold statement before donors and party faithful on Friday night that the "dark period" of the party is over there is still plenty of fallout that could come from Jim Greer-credit cards-Ray Sansom series of scandals.
Now it's unclear how much of this will unfold before Election Day. The trial of Sansom - the former House speaker charged with using his power as budget chairman to steer money to a political donor and developer - has now been scheduled for early next year.
Greer's trial on charges that he steered party money to a shell company that he set up with former executive director Delmar Johnson was initially scheduled for October. But Damon Chase, an attorney for Greer, said the case will not move forward until the defense team has had a chance to put under oath Thrasher, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon. They all signed a proposed severance package back in January that says that what Greer did as chairman was "proper, lawful and appropriate."
"I can't wait for the depositions where you sit them down and ask them questions," Chase said this past week. "We're going to walk into court, and go, boom, boom, boom, with the testimony."
Haridopolos, Cannon and Thrasher said they aren't bothered by the prospect of giving a deposition.
"I look forward to justice being done in that case and look forward to cooperating anyway I can,'' Cannon said.