Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Mack asks feds to investigate LeMieux appointment
Posted May 21, 2012 by William March
Updated May 21, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Connie Mack IV’s U.S. Senate campaign has sent letters seeking a federal investigation of the 2009 appointment of his Republican primary opponent, George LeMieux, to the Senate by former Gov. Charlie Crist.
The request is based in part on a Tampa Tribune story Saturday about the appointment.
That story reported that according to former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, Crist had decided to appoint then-Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp to the Senate seat, but changed his mind in response to what Greer said called a strategy by LeMieux that included putting pressure on Crist.
Greer, who has been indicted in connection with a state Republican Party fundraising scandal, said he knew what the pressure involved, but wouldn’t say.
Kottkamp confirmed those parts of Greer’s account that directly involved him, saying he was aware that Crist had decided to give him the appointment, but that Crist changed his mind shortly before it was announced. Kottkamp said he didn’t know what kind of argument or persuasion LeMieux used to change Crist’s mind.
“Greer’s and Kottkamp’s statements themselves raise troubling concerns about the type of ‘direct pressure’ LeMieux exerted on Governor Crist to secure his appointment to the U.S. Senate,” Engle said in his letter to the federal law officers.
In addition, he said, “There are allegations that George LeMieux may have threatened to disclose harmful information about Governor Crist, and that LeMieux may have promised to support Governor Crist’s potential candidacy for the same U.S. Senate seat in exchange for his appointment.”
Engle’s letter didn’t say what the sources of those allegations are.
But, he said, “Allegations of this nature undermine the integrity of the public’s confidence in their government,” which he said can only be remedied by “a prompt and thorough investigation by law enforcement officials.”