Once again, for maybe the 922nd time in his political career, Charlie Crist is fending off allegations that he is, in fact, gay. These rumors have swirled around Big Slick for at least a decade and resurfaced a couple of days ago with alleged payoffs to gay lovers. It’s a fairly convoluted story, so let’s begin at the beginning. Former state GOP chairman Jim Greer was arrested on June 2, 2010 and charged with half a dozen crimes, including money laundering. Prosecutors say that a company Greer established, Victory Strategies LLC, took over fundraising for the state GOP and then began funneling money to Greer to the tune of about $100,000. The company supposedly had a contract with the GOP to raise funds, but Charlie Crist maintained in written testimony that he had no idea that Victory Strategies would raise money for the state GOP with a cut of the profits going to Greer. And so we come to the present. Greer’s lawyer, Damon Chase, has asked that Crist recant this testimony and admit he knew about the scheme. Crist has refused. And so, as a lawyer must in such cases, Chase started looking at ways to discredit the former governor. In documents that surfaced in the discovery process a few days ago, Chase alleged that Crist had attempted to kiss Greer at a hotel in Beverly Hills, that he had almost struck someone while drunkenly operating a golf cart, and that he paid two gay lovers to flee the state to cover up the affairs. ”
“There was a conversation I had with [Crist's current boss, Orlando attorney] John Morgan, and he was asking questions about this, talking about some of the ridiculous things Charlie Crist had done,” Chase told me by phone earlier today. “I never intended to use this as a line of questioning.”
Oddly, the local altweekly, the New Times Broward/Palm Beach, somewhat defended Crist, saying that because the allegations came not from law enforcement but from Greer’s attorney, they should be taken with a grain of salt. And that’s absolutely true. But it’s a bit odd coming from the New Times, because it was that very paper that reported in 2006 on an alleged gay affair between Crist and Jason Wetherington, a campaign staffer for former Republican Rep. Katherine Harris during her failed U.S. Senate run. Former New Times investigative columnist Bob Norman wrote an article and a follow-up on the alleged affair. And afterward? Wetherington disappeared until the 2006 election was over, hiding out in Georgia. And this occurred during the time period in which Jim Greer was chairman of the state GOP. Therefore, the alleged gay lover that New Times reported on, Jason Wetherington, is almost certainly one of the two people mentioned in the lawsuit.
When I asked Chase to confirm whether Wetherington was one of the two men in question, he said, “I don’t want to get into that because — I don’t think I can get into naming names right now. … You’d probably have better luck going back and looking at the HBO report.”
That HBO documentary, 2009′s Outrage, covers closeted gay politicians who are publicly against equal rights for gays. And one of the politicians outed in the film — along with Sen. Larry Craig of airport bathroom fame — is Charlie Crist. And the reporter that the documentary cites regarding Crist’s sexual orientation? Bob Norman.
Crist has called Chase’s conversation with Morgan “witness tampering,” a charge that Chase himself finds absurd. “The witness-tampering allegation is a fantasy in Charlie Crist’s head,” he said. “He has a bizarre interpretation of legal terms. Probably why he failed the bar twice.”