There’s a bumper sticker I’ve always liked that, despite its cheesiness, still causes me to smile every time I see it. It reads, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.” It’s mostly just a cutesy, throwaway line, of course, like most bumper stickers. But sometimes it’s quite relevant to the national discourse, as it is this week for a story out of Florida’s notoriously ugly political scene.
Former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer is in hot water right now after being arrested in 2010 for embezzling funds. Investigators allege that Greer set up a system by which he took $100,000 from the party, sent it through to a fundraising organization he established, and then used the money for his own expenses. Now deposed, embarrassed, and with nothing to lose, Greer is using this time to expose what he says are the ugly and racist practices of the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” taking over the Florida GOP.
Back in 2010, when he was initially arrested, Greer said that he wanted to apologize to President Obama for writing an official press statement in which he criticized Obama for talking to school children: “In the year since I issued a prepared statement regarding President Obama speaking to the nation’s school children, I have learned a great deal about the party I so deeply loved and served,” he said. “Unfortunately, I found that many within the GOP have racist views and I apologize to the president for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our party today.”
Two years later, Greer is taking his allegations of bigotry and racism one step further, charging that the Florida GOP had direct conversations about how best to suppress the state’s Black vote.
On voter suppression, Greer said he had just completed a December 2009 meeting with party general counsel Jason Gonzalez, political consultant Jim Rimes and Eric Eikenberg, Crist's chief of staff, when questions arose about fundraising.
"I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping Blacks from voting. It had been one of those days,'' he said.
Greer could be lying to get back at an organization that’s now abandoned him, obviously. But if he’s telling the truth, that bumper sticker I recalled makes a lot of sense here. African-Americans often get accused of “playing the race card” too frequently. That is, conservatives like to say Blacks make racism appear out of thin air where none exists. “You’re being paranoid,” they say. But then a guy like Greer comes along and admits that, yes, there are conservatives who have given serious consideration to disenfranchising Black people, meaning that Blacks have every right to be paranoid about GOP racism, especially with so many voter ID laws popping up around the country.
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(Photo: Orlando Sentinel/MCT /Landov)