Pressure mounted on Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer today as a dozen major GOP donors from all over the state signed a letter urging him to resolve "a crisis in confidence" by resigning.
Greer, who has the backing of Gov. Charlie Crist, has insisted he won't quit. The state party's annual meeting is set for Orlando Jan. 8-9 and Greer has said he will meet with fellow Republican leaders to discuss party finances and operations.
Early this month, Greer accused budget committee member Allen Cox of leaking confidential party financial data and removed him from that panel. But Cox, the party vice chairman, denied leaking information about an alleged $4 million gap between expenses and fund-raising and organized a petition among the GOP state committee to remove Greer.
Besides the alleged deficit, which Greer says is exaggerated and due partly to the sluggish economy making donors less generous, the chairman has offended some Republican activists by taking sides in major primaries. Greer publicly endorsed Crist for the U.S. Senate and Attorney General Bill McCollum to succeed Crist as governor -- but later said he was speaking for himself, not giving Crist and McCollum the party's endorsement.
Today, dissidents are circulating a letter signed by 12 major donors -- including four former U.S. ambassadors from the Bush administrations -- urging Greer to quit.
"We do not take this call for action lightly," said the letter. "It is even more agonizing to publicly call for this plan of action but it would not have come to this had Jim Greer heeded warning calls and implemented a strategic plan of action for our Republican candidates as a competent state chairman should and would."
The letter said Greer's actions "resulted in a crisis of confidence in our party and widespread uneasiness, lack of trust, lack of motivation ... among the grassroots active members of the party, elected leadership and th ose of us who have historically rallied financial support around the state of Florida."
The letter was signed by Al Hoffman of Fort Myers, former ambassador to Portugal; Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg, former ambassador to Italy, Australia and Nauru; Charles Cobb of Miami, former ambassador to Iceland, and Ned Siegel of Boca Raton and Palm Beach, former ambassador to the Bahamas.
Other party donors signing the letter were Richard Beard of Tampa, William Becker of Vero Beach, Seth Bernstein of Orlando, J.C. Demetree of Jacksonville, Earl Durden of Panama City, Ed Easton of Miami, Mark Guzetta of Boca Raton and Charles Hilton of Panama City.