WEWAKHITCHKA, Florida -- Former Republican Party of Florida
chairman Jim Greer is in prison now, but he expects to be included in
the next gubernatorial campaign - as the subject of negative political
That's because Greer's notoriety is
likely to be used against former Gov. Charlie Crist, who switched
parties and is expected to challenge current Gov. Rick Scott as a
expect to turn off the TV as often as I can so my kids don't have to see
the (campaign) commercials," Greer said. "I suspect that next year I
will be a major part of the election."
lives at Gulf Forestry Camp, a low-security prison in the Panhandle.
His criminal trial promised to embarrass state party leaders, as well as
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Crist, who became a Democrat in December.
Before his trial could begin, Greer pleaded guilty in February to four
counts of theft and a single count of money laundering.
officials came under fire three years ago after revelations of
excessive spending at restaurants and luxury hotels on party-issued
American Express cards by Republican leaders, including Rubio.
said he decided to end the case for his family's sake, even if it meant
going to prison. He's now near the halfway point of his 18-month prison
sentence. He also said his downfall was partly due to his close
relationship with Crist, along with his own arrogance and conduct as
"I came to the conclusion that I couldn't win. There was no way they were going to let me win," Greer said.
He is scheduled to be released from prison next summer.
Crist and Greer are now estranged.
said he still identifies himself as a Republican and he criticized the
party's current chairman, Lenny Curry, as a figurehead who answers to
that any political party would take advice from Jim Greer is absurd.
It's almost laughable," Curry said. "He had his opportunity and now he's
said he remembered Crist's desire during his 2006 gubernatorial
campaign to make it easier for convicted felons to regain their civil
rights so that they can vote. Crist did streamline civil rights
restoration, but Scott and the Cabinet imposed new restrictions in 2011
that required felons to wait five years after release to seek clemency.
hope to someday get my rights restored. We'll just have to see," Greer
said. "When I get out, I'll just start over again as best I can."
said he's lost 40 pounds in prison. He said he works on a crew pulling
weeds and picking up trash in Port St. Joe, attends church services
twice a week and teaches other inmates studying for their GEDs about
"I teach social studies and civics," he said, "believe it or not."