Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ex-Head of Florida GOP testifies that some party officials discussed suppressing black votes

One would hope that this really wasn't the topic of conversation that Republican party officials, or any party official at any level of government would be discussing in 2012, much less on the state level. But, according to Jim Greer, the former Florida Republican Party Chairman, it happened.

 (Florida News 10 WTSP report )

Greer had resigned facing pressures from within his own party in January 2010. It was at this time that Greer said he signed a severance package agreement with the party amounting to $130,000. Greer never received what he says he was promised, and later filed a lawsuit against the party and two officials, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Sen. John Thrasher.  However, Greer is also facing possible criminal charges for corruption, stemming from his creation of Victory Strategies LLC, which made $200,000 from the party while Greer was Chairman. The result of all of this is a 630 page deposition, the testimony of Greer, who describes the turmoil in the months leading up to his resignation. He in fact, documents the split in the party that occurred as the right wing of the state party clashed with Greer over their support of Marco Rubio. According to Salon:
In the debate over new laws meant to curb voter fraud in places like Florida, Democrats always charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote of liberal voting blocs like blacks and young people, while Republicans just laugh at such ludicrous and offensive accusations. That is, every Republican except for Florida’s former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, who, scorned by his party and in deep legal trouble, blew the lid off what he claims was a systemic effort to suppress the black vote. In a 630-page deposition recorded over two days in late May, Greer, who is on trial for corruption charges, unloaded a litany of charges against the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote.
In the deposition, released to the press yesterday, Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also said party officials discussed how “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party,” according to the AP.
The comments, if true (he is facing felony corruption charges and has an interest in scorning his party), would confirm what critics have long suspected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is currently facing inquiries from the Justice Department and pressure from civil rights groups over his purging of voter rolls in the state, an effort that critics say has disproportionately targeted minorities and other Democratic voters. One group suing the state claims up to 87 percent of the voters purged from the rolls so far have been people of color, though other estimates place that number far lower. Scott has defended the purge, even though he was erroneously listed as dead himself on the rolls in 2006.
 The issue of voter suppression is highly relevant to this upcoming election, and Florida, more than ever is the poster child for the tactics right-wing Republican politicians are using to manipulate the voting population at the state level. Moreover, Greer's testimony shed's light on the political infighting that is occurring between the old guard and new guard of the party.

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