POLITICS
07/07/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Florida GOP Credit Card Statements Reveal Lavish State Party Spending

AP - While former state GOP chairman Jim Greer had a penchant for staying at places like the Ritz-Carlton and the Waldorf-Astoria, his predecessor was comparatively roughing it at the TownPlace Suites for under $80 a night.

The state party on Friday released 2,452 pages of records for American Express credit cards held by Greer and 30 others in an effort to finally end criticism and speculation of lavish spending among the GOP's elite and their support staff.

The records show that Greer and those around him, such as No. 2 official Delmar Johnson, were easily the big spenders of the party. But not everyone was living the life of limousines, private planes, top-tier hotels and expensive steak houses.

While there was outrageous spending - like Greer's $9,468 charges for hotel and limousine service for a two-day Washington trip - there were some officials who were much more modest, like former Sen. Dan Webster's favorite meal choices: Moe's Southwest Grill, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Tropical Smoothie and the Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant.

Senate President Jeff Atwater, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and former Senate President Ken Pruitt weren't living like kings off the party. Pruitt had a fondness for Marie Livingston's, a modestly priced Tallahassee steakhouse.

By comparison, Johnson had a penchant for luxurious hotels, including a two-night stay at the five-star Ellis Hotel in Atlanta for $1,751.45. On March 22, 2009, Johnson charged $492.18 for cigars in Orlando and five days later charged $13,354.03 for six separate charter flights in one day provided by Melbourne-based Baer Air.

Among his other charges were $300.15 for a physical at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

While only one month of statements were released for Greer's predecessor, Carole Jean Jordan, it showed she tried to stay in reasonably priced hotels and eat reasonable meals, including a $10.45 tab at Chick-Fil-A.

The party is conducting an audit of all spending under Greer after months of criticism of excessive spending. Greer resigned in February under pressure from top party donors and officials. Gov. Charlie Crist, who hand-picked Greer to run the party, defended Greer through the day he resigned and only called for an investigation when some party statements were leaked, including Senate candidate Marco Rubio's.

Rubio had several personal items charged to his party card, but he says he regularly paid American Express directly for nonparty expenses.

While Crist didn't have a party card, some of his hotel meal and other expenses were picked up by others who did.

State and federal investigators are looking into the party spending.