Politics & Government

Florida GOP sued over donations from Ponzi scamster Scott Rothstein

The lawsuit was filed by Berger Singerman, the law firm working on behalf of the trustee in the bankruptcy case for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. The trustee sent a demand letter to the party in April, but "the defendant has failed and refused to make such repayment," the lawsuit states.

But RPOF spokeswoman Katie Betta said the party has already paid back donations.

"In November, the RPOF voluntarily returned $90,000 from Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler, $40,000 from Scott Rothstein and $5,000 from WAWW (a Scott Rothstein company) from our state account and an additional $10,000 from Scott Rothstein from our federal account to the U.S. Marshal Service to ensure that the victims of these crime are properly compensated," Betta wrote in an email to the Herald. "The law firm is currently attempting a double recovery of these funds."

The payments were fraudulent transfers made between 2006 and 2009, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is one more hit for the embattled Republican Party of Florida, which ousted its chairman, Jim Greer, amid a credit card spending scandal earlier this year. If convicted, Greer faces up to 75 years in prison for theft, fraud and money laundering charges stemming from accusations that he created a company called Victory Strategies to funnel party donations to himself. Greer has pleaded not guilty.

Rothstein and his firm gave generously to politicians and candidates on both sides of the aisle as a way for him to boost the legitimacy and image of himself and his law firm.

Rothstein regularly hosted lavish political fundraisers. Photos showing him with politicians — including one in which he embraced Gov. Charlie Crist — were auctioned off by the bankruptcy estate earlier this year.

In April, Berger Singerman sent demand letters to dozens of political groups, politicians and candidates seeking repayment of about $650,000. The Republican Part of Florida is the first to be sued, but may not be the last.

Read more of this story at MiamiHerald.com