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Thurman Demands Prosecutor's Recusal Based On Conflict of Interest, Connections to McCollum

For Immediate Release: June 03, 2010
Thurman Demands Prosecutor’s Recusal Based On Conflict of Interest, Connections to McCollum
Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman demanded Statewide Prosecutor William Shepherd recuse himself from further involvement in the ongoing investigation of indicted former RPOF Chairman Jim Greer and the other Republican officials based upon Shepherd’s many conflicts of interest, including his donations to AG Bill McCollum’s political campaigns.

June 3, 2010
Prosecutor William ShepherdOffice of Attorney GeneralPL-01, The CapitolTallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Dear Prosecutor Shepherd,
I was pleased to see this week that Jim Greer is finally being held accountable for his alleged illegal activities surrounding his tenure as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF).  However, I am concerned about comments from your office yesterday regarding the scope of the investigation as well as your relationship with those involved in the scandal.
To begin with, at the press conference yesterday, your office stated that the scope of the investigation was narrowly limited to the RPOF’s contract with Victory Strategies LLC.  This is cause for concern considering the other allegations surrounding Mr. Greer, in particular the details surrounding his dismissal and severance package, and continued questions about dozens of Republican elected officials’ and party leaders’ use of RPOF funds on party credit cards.  While the decision to hand down indictments ultimately lies with the Grand Jury, the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor has considerable sway over the direction of the proceedings. 
The Office of the Statewide Prosecutor has the power to summon witnesses without the request of the Grand Jury, and the 19th Statewide Grand Jury website even says that questions of witnesses from members of the Grand Jury should be “submitted to the state attorney (or statewide prosecutor), who will determine whether the question is appropriate.”  I am asking you for clarification on the scope of the investigation, and whether or not the negotiations over Mr. Greer’s severance agreement fall under it.
Attorney General Bill McCollum was involved in Mr. Greer’s severance negotiations according to news reports and finally referred the investigation to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after months of stalling.  Clearly, I am concerned that the scope of the investigation may have been purposely narrowed to avoid any potential improper conduct on the behalf of Attorney General McCollum becoming public.  I have repeatedly called for Attorney General McCollum to recuse himself from involvement in this investigation, but he has failed to avoid this conflict of interest. 
This leads me to your relationship with Attorney General McCollum and your ability to impartially preside over this investigation.  In addition to the fact that you were appointed to your position as Statewide Prosecutor by Attorney General McCollum in 2007, you also donated $500 to his campaign for Governor last year.  
Because of your relationship with Attorney General McCollum and potentially other Republican leaders closely connected to this case, I am concerned that there is a clear conflict of interest that renders you unable to impartially investigate and prosecute this case. 
I am asking for you to recuse yourself from the investigation involving Mr. Greer and the RPOF, as well as any subsequent prosecutions.  Because of the seriousness of the allegations, as well as the current public perception of corruption in Florida government, Floridians need to have full confidence that investigations into Mr. Greer and the Republican Party of Florida’s improprieties will be based on the law and not personal or political bias.  The narrow scope of the indictments released yesterday do not show that is the case.
I look forward to your reply in a timely manner.
Karen Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party


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