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Fla. Republican Chairman Embroiled In Criminal Charges

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Even as embattled Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer fights criminal charges related to his former tenure, he is also suing two law firms in connection with his downfall as the party's leader.

According to papers filed in Leon County, Greer is suing the GrayRobinson and Ausley & McMullen law firms because of advice he says that attorneys for both firms gave him surrounding Victory Strategies, a company Greer set up to help raise funds for the party.

Victory Strategies is also at the center of the criminal case against Greer, charged with money laundering and fraud in relation to an alleged fundraising scheme in which he is accused of steering party money to the company while he was chairman. Greer said party leaders knew what he was doing and that a severance agreement should have protected him from any criminal liability.

Greer accuses GrayRobinson of giving him bad advice by telling him to set up Victory Strategies.

"GrayRobinson breached its duty to Greer by advising Greer to create Victory Strategies, LLC for the purpose of entering into a confidential fundraising agreement with the RPOF, advising Greer to enter into the confidential fundraising agreement with the RPOF through Victory Strategies, LLC, and then disclosing to third parties the confidential and privileged communications related to the creation of Victory Strategies, LLC and the confidential fundraising agreement," the lawsuit says.

It does not specifically name the third parties that GrayRobinson allegedly spoke with.

The firm denies most of Greer's substantive claims.

"GrayRobinson had no knowledge of and no communications with anyone regarding the alleged confidential fundraising contract between Victory Strategies and the RPOF and accordingly had no information it could reveal to anyone regarding that alleged contract," the firm says in its response.

Greer says Ausley & McMullen gave him bad advice on the deal he signed with RPOF leaders as he left the party.

"As to naming Victory Strategies, LLC by name in the severance agreement, Ausley advised Greer that including a provision acknowledging that fundraising fees were legal, authorized and ratified without naming the specific entity from which they were received was broader and would not limit the clause to applying only to fundraising fees receiving from that entity, even though Greer had not received fundraising fees from any other entity," the suit says.

Greer also claims the firm was involved in an effort to get him to void the severance agreement because party leaders were afraid payments from the RPOF would show up in public records.

Instead, Greer said, he was urged to sign a separate agreement with a political committee controlled by the House speaker-designate, then Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, or the Senate president-designate, Sen. Mike Haridopolos.

But Ausley & McMullen said the court should wait before moving forward with the case.

"Plaintiff's claims are contingent, at least in part, on the resolution of the RPOF litigation and the criminal litigation, and therefore, this Court should stay this proceeding until such time as the above mentioned litigation is resolved," it wrote.

But Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis denied the firm's request and ordered it to file a response in early August.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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