Politics & Policy

Allegations of Money Mismanagement Fly from All Sides

The Republican Party of Florida will decide in the next 10 days whether it will sue former party officials and Charlie Crist to recover funds the party says were misspent.

Former party Chairman Jim Greer was ousted and indicted on six felony counts, including grand theft and money laundering earlier this year. The GOP alleges that as much as $400,000 was spent by Greer and Crist on personal expenses, such as non-party trips to California and New York.

The GOP has not released the audit which led to its conclusion, leading the Crist campaign to call it politically motivated. Crist also has tried to point the spotlight on Republican opponent Marco Rubio.

“Given Marco Rubio is the candidate in this race who’s under federal investigation for failing to report income to the IRS, it’s probably best that the party bosses stop playing the same old political games and take a hard look at their own nominee before attacking the one truly independent candidate for U.S. Senate,” a Crist spokesman said. Crist has called on Rubio to release complete tax returns.

Rubio has categorically denied any wrongdoing, stating that his party-issued credit card was used for political purposes, and repaid the few times it was used personally. No federal authorities have questioned him, he said.

The St. Petersburg Times reported in April that the IRS was looking into the matter through a preliminary investigation:

Rubio billed the party for more than $100,000 during the two years he served as House speaker, according to credit card statements obtained by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald. The charges included repairs to the family minivan, grocery bills, plane tickets for his wife and purchases from retailers ranging from a wine store near his home to Apple’s online store. Rubio also charged the party for dozens of meals during the annual lawmaking session in Tallahassee, even though he received taxpayer subsidies for his meals.

Rubio said the billings all related to party business — the minivan, for example, was damaged by a valet at a political function — and that he repaid the party for about $16,000 in personal expenses.

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