Florida, Jeff Greene wants to be your next governor. This will perhaps be a difficult accomplishment for Greene, because, and this is key, he appears to be a massive idiot. A huge, honking stooge. Just a grade-A fool-boy.
Despite being a billionaire, or perhaps due to the fact that he is filthy rich, Greene appears to have legit zero idea about how to run a successful campaign or have any sense as to what Democratic voters are looking for in 2018. That's not to say any of the other Democratic candidates do, but Greene's flowing river of gaffes make fellow 1-percenter Philip Levine look like Eugene V. Debs by comparison.
Greene will not win the governorship. But he is a billionaire, so he will be fine, and it is definitely OK to make fun of how often he has tripped over his own rich-guy tuxedo coattails during this race.
Here's a brief recap of Jeff Greene being a huge dummy on the campaign trail:
1. Using his own, paid Mar-a-Lago membership to go to Mar-a-Lago to make an ad telling Trump that, actually, Mar-a-Lago is bad. Per the Palm Beach Daily News, Greene is a longtime Mar-A-Lago member. He gives the Trump family money to sun himself with other weird, leathery old kooks and
2. Yelling at candidate Gwen Graham for her family's (admittedly bad) real-estate deal, despite the fact that he himself is a billionaire real-estate tycoon. Greene yelling at Graham for "double-talk" counts as... double-double-talk? Triple-talk? Talk-squared?
3. Getting caught making money from financial schemes that helped cause the 2008 financial meltdown. Credit-default swaps are tools rich financiers use to make more money out of already-existing money. They make ultra-capitalists rich without adding anything to society. Default-swaps are particularly gross: The issuers (in this case, Greene) pay someone a bunch of money, in exchange for getting even more money if the payee defaults and goes broke. You're basically betting that someone will go broke. Banking analysts noted that, right before Bear Sterns went bust in 2008, predatory investors attempted to take out a huge number of credit-default-swaps on Bear Sterns and make money from the ensuing bankruptcy. Similar incidents helped cripple AIG and Lehman Brothers, too.
Jeff Greene made money from credit-default swaps! And now he wants to be governor!
4. Possibly owning tens of millions in shady Puerto Rican debt obligations. Per the Intercept:
Jeff Greene, the billionaire real estate developer running for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida, appears to own Puerto Rican debt worth at least $26.8 million, according to a listing on his candidate financial disclosure form.
The disclosure, known as Form 6, lists Greene’s net worth as of May 31 at $3.3 billion and lays out Greene’s assets, liabilities, and sources of income. Under secondary income, Greene listed a fixed income holding named “PR Commonwealth Public Impt.” There is no description of the value or the date of purchase.
Puerto Rico Commonwealth Public Improvement bonds are a standard type of general obligation debt that the government has issued as far back as 1995. The island is now suffering under more than $70 billion in debt, and creditors have forced crushing austerity and privatization of public assets.
It seems logical that “PR Commonwealth Public Impt” would refer to the Public Improvement bonds, but the Greene campaign did not answer repeated questions about the listing. If it does indeed turn out that a candidate running to govern Florida — as well as a significant portion of the Puerto Rican diaspora, after economic depression and natural disaster sent hundreds of thousands of native Puerto Ricans to the mainland — is profiting from Puerto Rican debt, that could generate significant controversy prior to the August 28 Democratic primary.
“If you are running to represent Puerto Ricans, and potentially harming Puerto Ricans through investments, then Puerto Ricans will hold you accountable,” said Julio López Varona of the Center for Popular Democracy, one of the leading activist groups on the Puerto Rican debt crisis. “There’s a question about what are those investments, and if that question is not answered that is extremely concerning.”
5. Getting sued a zillion times, called a "horrible person" by a former associate, and laughed at by film director Ron Howard. Per Politico Florida:
One of Greene’s biggest and best-known court losses came in a 1999 dispute with Ron Howard, the “Happy Days” star who became an Academy Award-winning filmmaker known more recently as the narrator in the Netflix series “Arrested Development.”
At the time, Howard was renting a home from Greene during a Hollywood movie shoot. But the house had water damage and vermin problems, so Howard terminated the lease. Greene sued Howard. Howard countersued and won $105,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages because, Howard’s attorneys told Variety, “the jury found Greene made fraudulent statements about the condition of the house before and during the execution of the lease.”
Howard told Politico that a confidential settlement limited what he could say.
“I think the results of the case speak for themselves. Knowing what I know about him, I certainly would never vote for him,” Howard said.
Greene, who in 2010 groused that Howard had “screwed him,” has little nice to say about him now.
“I wouldn’t vote for him either. I wouldn’t vote for him for anything,” Greene said.
6. Earning an endorsement from the Sun Sentinel before the newspaper's readers revolted and wrote a few letters to the editor. Some selected quotes from the angry letters the
- "He even has a membership at Mar-a-Lago, so that puts him in the same arena as President Donald Trump, and we know how that is working out. You dropped the ball on this one."
- "Great choice for your endorsement for governor, Jeff Greene, who became super rich by shorting mortgage securities as stated in your endorsement in the Sunday paper."
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7. Going on TV in 2016 to call Donald Trump a "great guy" and say he was behind Trump "100 percent." Here's a transcript from the Tampa Bay Times:
"I supported Hilliary Clinton as a Democrat. I'm delighted Donald Trump is the alternative," Greene said on Fox Business on Nov. 9, the day after the election. "He's a great guy. I know Donald Trump."
He continued, "I only hope that the Democrats do the exact opposite of what the Republicans did when Mitch McConnell and John Boehner said we want Barack Obama to be a one term president.
"Let's hope that Donald Trump succeeds for all of us."
And in an interview with Forbes that published the next day, he again repeated that he wanted the Democrats to rally around Trump.
"At this point, my neighbor has won and I am behind him 100% as we all should be," he said.
Update 8/20: Greene is now being lambasted after his political-action committee created a mailer that incorrectly suggests he has support from a huge slate of black candidates.
Via Politico Florida:
A political committee tied to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene is angering some in his own party after circulating campaign handouts they say imply certain black candidates are endorsing his campaign, even when they are not.
“We don’t need stuff like this,” Democrat Pam Keith, a black Democrat running for the 18th Congressional District, said. “It’s terribly misleading.”
She is among the black candidates or elected officials listed on the campaign cards, which include a handful of black candidates and Greene, who is the only white candidate pictured.
They were circulated last weekend in at least Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, largely at predominantly black churches and early voting sites. The Palm Beach version notes the listed people are the “Palm Beach Democratic ticket,” while the Miami-Dade mailer indicates it is the “Miami-Dade Democratic slate.” The Miami version also includes the words “Our Vote, Our Choice.”
The cards indicate they were paid for by Florida Defense Fund, a political committee started July 31 by Greene attorney Stuart Grossman. Greene has since filed paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections formally linking himself to the committee, a move that allows him to raise money for the committee.