August 15, 2010

Jeff Greene rethinking Cuban embargo stance

That yacht trip to Cuba just keeps coming back to haunt Democratic Senate hopeful Jeff Greene.

The much-discussed trip didn't come up on This Week in South Florida Sunday morning. But it must have been in the back of viewers' minds when Greene said he has had a change of heart on his support of the Cuban trade embargo.

"I have thought about this a lot, you know, the past few weeks, and I'm really beginning to rethink my own opinion that," Greene told WPLG-ABC 10's Michael Putney. "I'm thinking now we have to take a close look at opening travel to Cuba, and the trade embargo."

Greene went on to call the embargo "a 50-year plan that's failed." "We've hurt the impoverished people of Cuba," he said. "For Florida, we're the biggest losers," he added, arguing that any trade or travel to Cuba would likely include a stop through Florida.

"I'm not saying let's open the doors tomorrow, but I'm saying when I get to the Senate I want to take a close look at considering making a revision to this, what is absolutely a failed policy."

In response, Kendrick Meek chuckled and said, "Well...I haven't had a change in opinion on Cuba in the last two weeks, and I don't know why Mr. Greene would change in the last two weeks. Maybe he can explain to us why." Meek reiterated his support for the embargo, adding: "I am open to looking at other tools that would bring about free democracy in Cuba."

Greene then countered, "As I traveled around Florida the last few weeks, as I talked to Cuban Americans and all Floridians, for the most part, most Floridians now want to open up trade, travel to Cuba. That's how most Floridians feel."

Jeff Greene: 'I'm not a partier'

When Jeff Greene brought his Democratic U.S. Senate campaign to Tallahassee on Friday, he inevitably faced questions about the flamboyant partying on his yacht, detailed here, here and here. He disputed the stories, despite mounting evidence, though acknowledged back in his single days he hosted a party or two.

August 14, 2010

Rich Men Behaving Badly: The Sequel

Images Last week I told you how Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, and Naples multi-millionaire Rick Scott, Republican for governor, were bumbling their way through the minefield that is ethnic politics in Florida.

Today is about them fumbling another ritual of the state's highly hazardous campaign trail: going toe-to-toe with an aggressive press corps.

As we reporters like to say to irritable, wealthy candidates: "If you can't take the heat, get out of Florida in August. And for the love of God, take us with you --  to Martha's Vineyard or the Hamptons or any more pleasant clime.''

Full column here.

August 13, 2010

Jeff Greene threatens Times with libel suit

UPDATED: It didn't match Rick Scott's now-famous outrage but Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene is livid at the St. Petersburg Times. In a Friday press conference at the Florida Press Center, Greene said he is threatening to file a libel lawsuit after this article tying him to the mortgage mess. He said the Times has until Tuesday to print a front-page retraction or he will sue.

The Times issued this statement in response: "The Times' coverage of Mr. Greene and his business transactions has been thorough and fair, and the reporting is well-documented in public records. Our story is accurate, balanced and we stand by it. Mr.Greene is welcome to submit a letter to the editor if he wishes to take further exception."

August 12, 2010

Rep. Waldman endorses Greene

Democratic state Rep. Jim Waldman who represents Broward County endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene, according to a news release from Greene today.

That's a blow to Greene's rival Congressman Kendrick Meek whose district also includes some of Broward.

"I support Jeff for US Senate because I strongly believe he will help create jobs for our unemployed, strengthen our economy and give Floridians a voice in Washington," Waldman said in the news release, "As the Democratic nominee for US Senate, Jeff will be part of a strong Democratic ticket that will help Democrats win in November. I encourage my fellow Democrats to join me in voting for Jeff Greene."

Meek gets help in anti-Greene air war

For Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, It ain't easy running against one of the richest men in America. So some FOKs (friends of Kendrick's) have banded together in the form of a new political committee called Florida Is Not For Sale. Former Hillary Clinton fundraiser, Ben Pollara, said that the group has raised $250,000 so far and began airing its first attack against real estate mogul Jeff Greene in South Florida yesterday.

"We're trying to level the playing field a little bit,'' said Pollara. "Kendrick is a good man who has been a public servant his whole life."

The ad is what you might expect -- Greene is a no-good, greedy former Republican who profited as homeowners suffered. While voters always say they are turned off by negative campaigning, there's a reason why candidates keep doing it anyway. It works. Here's the ad:

August 11, 2010

Meek fundraising in homestretch

Former President Bill Clinton's back-to-back rallies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties on Monday are aimed at driving Democratic voters to the polls for Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, but the visit will also generate cash for the final week of campaigning before the Aug. 24 primary. Donors who give $2,400 get to hang out with Clinton before the rallies start. 

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is also helping Meek with cash flow by headlining fundraisers on Saturday and Sunday. And The Center for Responsive Politics reports that a former Hillary Clinton operative has started a political committee to promote Meek.

Meek will have spent only $2 million on television by the end of this week, compared to an estimated $11 million by rival Jeff Greene, a billionaire paying for his own campaign.

"We have to work with what we have,''  Meek told supporters yesterday in Lakeland. "Money is not going to dictate the outcome of this election."

IMG00018-20100811-2252 We shall see. Greene unleashed a tough new anti-Meek mailer this week that accuses him of opposing higher cigar taxes to help pay for subsidized health insurance for poor children. "Big Tobacco first. Florida's kids last." Politifact rated this claim "barely true" last month because although Meek though the tax hike was too high, he voted for the legislation.

Jeff Greene's ticket in Palm Beach includes Aronberg

Greene palm card U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene is telling fellow Democrats to support Dave Aronberg in the tight primary for state attorney general.

Greene is distributing this voting guide in the Democratic central Century Village of Palm Beach County, a key battleground in Aronberg's race against Miami Beach state Sen. Dan Gelber.

Greene hasn't made an official endorsement of Aronberg, a state senator whose district includes parts of Palm Beach County. But this palm card is close enough.

Continue reading "Jeff Greene's ticket in Palm Beach includes Aronberg" »

August 09, 2010

Greene paid $115,000 to settle libel suit

Forbes: Documents from a libel case paint an unflattering picture of Florida Democratic Senate hopeful Jeff Greene, with employees of a property management firm he used making declarations describing him as cruel and abusive. Greene paid $115,000 in 2007 to settle the suit, filed by an employee of the firm.

Craig Tice, chief operating officer of LB Property Management in Sherman Oaks, Calif., filed the libel suit in California state court in Los Angeles after Greene telephoned Tice's colleagues at LB Property Management and told them Tice was a "thief" and "criminal" who "'stole' Greene's money," a court document filed by Tice says. But nearly a year after allegedly making the comments, in deposition testimony, Greene said he had "no evidence that anybody stole any money."

In one telephone call, Tice alleged in court documents, Greene told an LB Property employee "he was going to file criminal charges" against Tice and LB Property Management, and "take them all down." In that same phone call, Greene said that Rocky Delgadillo, then the city attorney of Los Angeles, was married at Greene's home and that Greene was "worth half a billion dollars," a court document filed by Tice alleges. In another phone call to a different LB employee, Greene said that Tice was a "liar" who "does not know who he is dealing with," according to a court document filed by Tice.

In total, Tice alleged in court documents that he had evidence, including e-mail messages and transcribed voicemail messages, showing Greene had made over 40 defamatory statements to Tice's corporate and industry colleagues in 2006, including one phone call in which Greene told an LB employee that Tice was "uneducated" and "in jail," and that Greene "will do anything to tear Tice apart."

Early voting begins...with the Electric Slide

Early voting got under way in Florida Monday, and at the International Longshoremen's Association local 1416 in Overtown, that meant dancing to...the Electric Slide.

Yep, Leslie Meek was boogieing to it. So was Lisa Lesperance, a lawyer and Democratic candidate for Florida House District 117.

The South Florida AFL-CIO held a rally with union-endorsed candidates. Union members were then going to brave the impending rain to march to downtown Miami and cast their ballots early.

"When working people vote early, we win," Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek told the crowd. "We've got beat this billionaire Republican who's running against me," he added, referring to his primary opponent, real-estate mogul Jeff Greene.

Added South Florida AFL-CIO President Fred Frost: "I'm sick and tired of businessmen, especially zillionaire businessmen, trying to reinvent themselves."

He also touted Luis Meurice, a Democrat running for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

"We are doing something unprecedented: We are going to elect one of our own," Frost said.