Former Fla. GOP Chair Accuses Party of Suppressing Minority Voters
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida is making charged accusations against his prior employer, claiming state party officials are intentionally trying to keep minority voters away from the polls.
While appearing on MSNBC’s Politics Nation, Jim Greer said that during his time as head of the Florida Republicans, strategists discussed plans to reduce early voting opportunities and manipulate the voter registration process to facilitate party gains this November.
Greer, who resigned from his position in 2010 amid criticism of his spending habits, also maintained that party officials are specifically working to suppress minority voters to “make sure that what happened in ‘08 never happens again.”
“There’s no doubt that what the Republican-led legislature in Florida and Governor Scott are trying to do is make sure that the Republican Party has an advantage in this upcoming election by reducing early voting, putting roadblocks up for potential voters, Latinos, African-Americans—to register and then to exercise their right to vote,” said Greer to host Rev. Al Sharpton. “There is no doubt. I was in the room. It’s part of the strategy.”
This assertion comes only a few months after Florida officials initiated efforts to purge non-citizens from voter registration rolls in its attempt to protect against voter fraud. However, Greer says that preventing voter fraud was never on the Republican agenda.
“In three and a half years as chairman in Florida, I never had one meeting where voter fraud was discussed as a real issue effecting elections. Never one time,” said Greer.
Greer’s televised proclamations mirror those he made during a deposition in late May for a civil lawsuit he filed against the Florida Republican Party. The former chairman filed the suit in an attempt to collect the remaining $124,000 from his annual salary that he was promised shortly before he resigned from his position in 2010.
However, that case is not expected to be decided until after Greer faces criminal charges of money laundering and multiple counts of fraud. Greer is accused of steering $200,000 of party money to Victory Strategies, a fundraising company he created.
“Any report taking the word of Jim Greer ought to acknowledge that he stands accused of committing multiple felonies, including grand theft of over $100,000,” said Kristen McDonald, press secretary for the Republican Party of Florida, in an email. “Between that and his civil suit against the Party, he has every reason to lie about Republicans in Florida.”
While McDonald did not respond to the allegations of hindering minority voters, she used statistics to discredit Greer’s statements on the party’s efforts to change early voting practices. When compared to that of 2008, the total number of early votes cast in this year’s Florida primaries increased by over 100,000, with increases in turnout for both Republican and Democratic registered voters. McDonald also highlights that in the 2010 general election, Republicans were more active than Democrats during the early voting period by a margin of over 46,000 votes.
“Why, after coming off such a successful early voting drive, would Florida Republicans then supposedly try and limit that in future elections,” said McDonald. “Greer’s claims simply don’t add up when you consider the facts.”
The Florida Democratic Party declined to comment.