Until somebody shows me how 537 Consulting LLC is different from Victory Strategies, I've blown my last raspberry at Jim Greer.
Never mind his 2013 guilty plea and prison sentence, you won't find me lumping Greer with the bad guys anymore.
In fact, I think he's owed an apology.
If the Democrats can dismiss their own Victory Strategies lookalike in Miami without so much as a raised eyebrow and put the woman who set the company up on the ticket with Charlie Crist, no questions asked, then what are we doing persecuting Jim Greer?
Let's look for a moment.
-- Jim Greer was chairman of the Republican Party of Florida during Crist's last term as governor.
-- Annette Taddeo is chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.
-- Jim Greer set up Victory Strategies with his executive director, Delmar Johnson. Then, onJan. 11, 2010, when the RPOF was nearly broke at the hands of free-spending Greer, Johnson and Gov. Charlie Crist in particular, GOP lawmakers confronted Greer over the "secret contract between Greer and Johnson." The two-page contract had given Victory Strategies 10 percent of the money Delmar Johnson raised from major donors.
-- Early last year, 537 Consulting LLC mysteriously formed, with principals listed as executive director Juan Cuba and Taddeo's communications director Rachel Johnson.At about the same time, Taddeo told the DEC membership the organization was broke, so she was moving salaried employees to independent contractors and giving the contract to handle payroll to 537 Consulting. There was no bidding process, no vote and no discussion. It was presented as a "done deal," reviewed and approved by the DEC's lawyer at the time, Joe Geller.
Oddly, this means 537 Consulting LLC managing partner Juan Cuba pays the salary of Miami-Dade DEC executive director Juan Cuba -- Juan to Juan. I guess no conflict of interest?
On March 14, 2010, Victory Strategies underwent an internal audit, after which law enforcement was called in. On April 2, then-Gov. Charlie Crist asked federal authorities to investigate. Though a high-ranking GOP cadre knew -- and leaked they knew -- that the governor was fully aware how Victory worked, Crist has continued to deny it.
-- Do Cuba and Johnson get an extra stipend -- a piece of campaign donations in 537 Consulting? Either a percentage or a bonus? We won't know. There has been no internal audit called for at Miami-Dade DEC headquarters since 537 Consulting LLC was outed. Nobody knows how the company functions, who profits and why -- really why, not the pretend-why story of independent contractors..
Blowing off any whiff of impropriety, let alone violation of the law, is apparently de rigeur for a state Democratic Party that skips over the hard part -- the vetting of its candidates. In its rush to dig out reluctant minorities and Hispanics in South Florida, the party has inserted ear plugs, tied on a blindfold and enlisted a seeing eye dog to sprint them to November. There can be no glitches, no bad news, no opposition, no problem within the Miami-Dade DEC that can't be dismissed by assailing the messenger.
Actually, I am not accusing Annette Taddeo, Juan Cuba, Rachel Johnson or others among the Dems with doing anything beyond attempting to make the slightest reference to 537 Consulting go away.None of us knows enough yet to make accusations. No questions have been answered.
In the meantime, though, we can -- and I do -- draw comparisons.
If 537 Consulting LLC is nothing, maybe so is Victory Strategies. From day one, I never gave Jim Greer the benefit of the doubt, and the Democrats certainly are reminding me how wrong I was.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.