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Nancy Smith

Jeff Greene, Just a Self-Financing Billionaire Offering His Party a Bribe

June 14, 2018 - 6:00am
Jeff Greene
Jeff Greene

There has to be a better way to find good leaders for Florida than riding the checkbook of another self-financing, mouthy millionaire or -- in Jeff Greene's case -- billionaire.

If you saw the interview gubernatorial candidate Greene, 63, worth $4 billion, gave to the Miami Herald late Tuesday night,  you might understand why I find this man's gaudy show of wealthy advantage so repugnant, and why it's sent me over the edge. I truly believe after this election ends, both parties desperately need to revisit campaign finance reform. 

The Herald reported the Palm Beach Democrat actually said "he'd seek to play kingmaker in state legislative races this summer by dumping cash into competitive state House and Senate races if he wins the Democratic nomination."

The operative word is "if" -- as in, if he wins.

I Beg to Differ"When I win the nomination I’ll be getting involved in other races," Greene told the Herald. "I hope the Republicans read this and understand the days of easy rides to controlling the House and Senate are over for good."

Read between the lines. Doesn't it sound to you as if Greene was offering his party a bribe? Pull strings, get the four other governor wannabes out of the race, and I'll write a check big enough to flip the Legislature. 

The Herald said his enthusiasm waned when asked if he'd do the same should he lose in the primary. Of course he won't. That's not how a bribe works.

Open Secrets will tell you: One of the biggest open secrets in Washington is that the agency that's supposed to oversee and enforce the campaign finance laws -- the Federal Election Commission -- is notoriously ineffective. In fact, it was designed that way. The agency often takes years to resolve complaints, and political operatives have learned they can live on the edge of the law with little fear of interference from the FEC.

As for Florida's shoddy campaign finance laws, the state elections commission is way slow handling complaints and operates under a plethora of constraints the Legislature places on it. They're crying for reform.

Oh, yes, and it isn't just the obscenity of the small-fortunes that pour into political campaigns. It's the good and talented people it drives away from running. I can't tell you how many aspiring men and women eying a state office I've come across since I started work at Sunshine State News who have told me, "The first thing I'm asked is, how much money do I have and how much can I get?" Discouraged, they fall away.

Having a lot of funding may not guarantee success -- certainly it didn't for Jeb Bush in 2016, or Greene in 2010 for that matter -- but having too little is a great predictor of a loss. Today the cost of elections for virtually every office creates a barrier to entry for many would-be passionate public servants, leaving us candidate pools limited to those with wealth or access to it. I know for fact, proportionately fewer women and people of color run for and serve in office as a result.

What that does is, it narrows and distorts the policy debate, because those who give large campaign donations -- and particularly billionaires like Greene -- aren’t reflective of America’s wonderful diversity of views and backgrounds. The top 500 donors in 2014 had an average age of 66 and were overwhelmingly white and male, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. What I'm sure most of us know by now is, when politicians spend their time thinking up how to persuade just a few of us to offer support, they aren’t thinking about the rest of us. And that’s how money matters.

Most political observers doubt Greene, who made his fortune betting against the real estate market, will pull it off, no matter how tempting his money. After all, in 2010 he spent $23-plus million of his own money trying to buy a U.S. Senate seat and he failed miserably. But in 2018 money is the whole ball of wax to the parties, he's got it and this time he could actually make it happen. Certainly, the man believes in his own power.

He will run against Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Chris King and Philip Levine in the Democratic primary.

Sadly, Greene talked to the Herald more about his money than what he wanted to do for Florida.

Elections are now a game for billionaires, and that shouldn't be what America is all about. I admit it's very unRepublican for me to say, but I believe we all lose when our republic's distortions undermine leadership opportunity for all. 

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments

WE should first outlaw...........News organizations that are paid off.............by mostly Rich Republicans. ...and now who knows....Maybe Nancy Smith would start beating up on a common caring person rather than pick on someone out of her class. Call me if you want to debate........Abusive Florida Elections Commission, Repeal Chapter 106... Independents are not allowed to be on the ballot....they simply call us NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. there will never be an independent on the Florida Elections Commission....because Republicans get to pick 5 and democrats 4....and the democrats...do not even show up but get paid...for being a rubber stamp... CFO candidates like the appointed Incumbent; and Jeremy Ring....should save there money...Ring has $5.9 million....he is worthless as a democrat........ While being a write in will be laughed at by YOU Journalist....YOU know we those many write ins ...hate how Journalist have made it so bad for independents. google daytona beach strange candidate 386 314 3646 cell Nancy....you need to stop beating up on the billionaire... Go look at how someone put a news Article in a republicans campaign reports...Division of Elections is criminal in this regard .............in my opinion..... Taking out a criminal from running is unconstitutional...........Preamble states............guarantee equal civil and political right for ALL. Journalist especially those at Sunshine State News....are nasty people....Nancy Smith...especially YOU>>>>>

Face it folks -There are motivators for every person. Money and POWER over others is one of the strongest. Political asperations and questionable ETHICS is, it seems, more powerful than formal political party. Republicans, Democrats, Independents mindsets run the gamut from socialistic Communism to pure no-holds-barred "Freedom" of NO GOVERNMENT and pure Anarchy. Things have not changed in the known history of mankind This is the nature of man. I like the constitution, small government - a democratic REPUBLIC. It seems that the entire world is very slowly moving toward this concept. Problem is that individual ppl have their very personal goals and tend to lie, cheat and steal. Think that will Change? Ask ANY politician what their "True Goals" are... then study history.

I AM NOT A DEMOCRAT NOR AM I A REPUBLICAN, I AM WHAT YOU MAY CALL ONE OF THOSE CONSPIRACY FREAKS. ONE THING FOR SURE I AM A FLORIDIAN AT HEART!!! I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE DEMOCRATS NOR THE REPUBLICANS SHOULD BE IN CONTROL, THERE ARE COMMUNISTIC TENDENCIES IN BOTH PARTIES. I BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE DESCENT HUMAN BEINGS AND HAVING THE BEST INTERESTS OF FLORIDA SHOULD BE IN CONTROL. AS FAR AS GOV. RICK SCOTT, HE HAS BEEN BETTER THAN MOST ACROSS THE COUNTRY FOR HIS POSITION. ABOVE ALL ELSE WHAT SHOULD AND MUST BE TOLERATED, IS THAT THE PEOPLE SHOULD SPEAK AND NOT THE MONEY TALKS!!!

How ironic for this to come from the right, especially with Rick Scott buying everything he can...too funny...

Scott self-financed in his first race because he had to. The whole Florida Republican Party was against him and backed Bill McCollum. Scott had a reason to run besides his money, he had an ambitious agenda to lift Florida out of the recession. Greene is no comparison.

at least it's never been proven that Greene made his money fraudulently, the same could never be said for Scott. I agree, there is no comparison...

Show me where it's been proven Scott made his money fraudulently.

Some people never learn... Scott started what was first Columbia in 1987, purchasing two El Paso, Texas, hospitals. Over the next decade he would add hundreds of hospitals, surgery centers and home health locations. In 1994, Scott’s Columbia purchased Tennessee-headquartered HCA and its 100 hospitals, and merged the companies. In 1997, federal agents went public with an investigation into the company, first seizing records from four El Paso-area hospitals and then expanding across the country. The investigation focused on whether Columbia/HCA had committed Medicare and Medicaid fraud. In December 2000, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Columbia/HCA agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines, civil damages and penalties. Among the revelations from the 2000 settlement: • Columbia billed Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs for tests that were not necessary or had not been ordered by physicians; • The company attached false diagnosis codes to patient records to increase reimbursement to the hospitals; • The company illegally claimed non-reimbursable marketing and advertising costs as community education; • Columbia billed the government for home health care visits for patients who did not qualify to receive them. The government settled a second series of similar claims with Columbia/HCA in 2002 for an additional $881 million. The total for the two fines was $1.7 billion. On Scott’s 2010 campaign website, he admitted to the $1.7 billion fine, though the link is no longer on the site.

The mis-billings were determined by a court of law not to be fraud, which is why only fines were assessed. Had it been fraud, Scott would have served time in jail. You and the rest of the Democrats call it fraud because it suits your political purpose. But what makes "fraud" is a very specific set of circumstances, and those misbillings didn't meet the criteria.

show where that has been proven. He plead the fifth, many, many times to avoid self-incrimination. You guys are too much. You will fight till the end to defend your party rep, even it has been proven they are dirty. Same thing happens every day with Trump. He is a liar, a cheater, probably a law breaker as well. He lawyers up more than any, that's any president in history, but fools will defend this ass clown till the end, because he is their reality TV hero. They would rather die than admit they made a mistake... Crazy.

by the way, i am NPA. I don't have a dog in the fight. i don't like most from both parties, but I will call them like I see 'em, and facts are facts. I'll never vote for Trump again, and rick scott never got, nor will he ever get my vote, because he is a criminal, and made his money off the backs of the old, poor and the tax payers of this state. That's dirty...

It was called "fraud" at the time ... a couple of top executives did go to prison ... Scott claimed he "didn't know" ... and he got off. BUT ... it was HIS company ... under his watch ... that misappropriated Medicaid and Medicare payments ... probably to the tune of some $2-$3 billion ... and paid the $1.7 billion fine. The board then dumped Scott ... with about a $300 million 'severance pay'. Scott should have been a felon! And, if he "didn't know" as he claimed ... then he's one of the most clueless and incompetent CEO's of all time! It was a sad joke that he was consequently elected Governor of Florida! (As senator ... he'll fit right in with Trump and his 'New Swamp'!)

we were already out of recession nationally, and he had to run, he had no job, and will never get another job in business again that he does not finance himself, but hey, if you feel good about that criminal, it says more about your character than his...

I’m left wondering where all this new found Republican outrage against money in politics was when Romney, Rick Scott, and Trump poured millions of their own money into their campaigns? I do agree though, that we desperately need campaign finance reform by reversing the Citizen’s United SCOTUS decision.

At least Romney, Scott and Trump had platforms. I've heard this clown talk three times and all he does is talk about his money.

if platforms based on lies, BS and 1% ers works for you, you are part of the problem, instead of being part of the solution...

NO "outrage against money"!... Just outrage against money "buying self-serving favoritism in the political process" to subvert the will of "We The People" (as intended by the "Founding Fathers" of THIS Republic) ! [And "I'm left wondering" exactly whose political campaign is employing YOU ?!?] {signed// An old-fashioned registered Democrat who wonders: What happened to the Democrat "Statesmen" of yore, who put America FIRST???} YES, I voted for Trump; and will continue to do so...

dumbasses never change, they just get older and fatter... Go back to NY fat boy...

The "difference" between Greene and Trump IS: Greene is an unapologetic opportunist "always "buying people with his money" (exactly like 'spoiler' George Soros and HIS spawn). TRUMP, on the other hand, LOVES America and has been dismayed for decades at our Republic's perpetual decay "at the hands of our self-serving "political elitist class" ("Google", or research, Oprah TV interview of Trump over twenty years ago regarding his concerns for America; and you will better understand Trump's reasons for selflessly putting himself into a position he NEVER wanted). Trump is neither a "Republican" nor a "Democrat"; he is a "Populist" beholden to NO 'politician' ,.. but ONLY to the country he loves: America,.. and his concerns for her health and continuity on the "path to freedom and equality for ALL American citizens". Thank God for a man of his integrity, honor, and unabashed love for the United States of America !

If Trump (Cadet Bone Spur) is not a Republican how come he's given the keys to government to Pence and his crazy Evangelicals? Trump's "integrity, honor?" C Breeze stop drinking the Fox News cool-aid, this nothing honorable about Trump and his fake love of the USA is pretty obvious.

unfortunately fat boy, it's idiots like you that have given this state and country a bad name... Take your fat can back to NY and get a job and get off the gov't teet lard ass...

Morgan /\ and Morgan \/ ...whine...

To equate Trump with integrity, honor and love would be to equate Ponzi with business acumen...but hey, even dumbasses vote too...

Trump got my vote because I saw what you saw: an independent who might be a transformational president. But instead of uniting us with a transportation bill which Dems would have voted for, he turned into a highly partisan hack, attacking health care, attacking moderate Republicans, and jumping for the mega tax cut which is a repeat of the W tax cuts and the financial hole they created. He cant stop his twittering, his foul behavior, his attacks on the media (you like the 2d amendment, but the 1st not so much), and lying in about everything from the crowd size at his inauguration to claiming climate issues are a hoax. To complain about Jeff Greene's use of his own money takes chutzpa. Nancy keep up the hilarious work, it gives all the kooks like me something to hoot about.

Trump conned everyone Joe, its part of who he is and always has been, a washed up, reality TV, con man...sad thing is, many have not or will not catch on to the con... He also believes if he keeps telling the same lies long enough, people will actually start to believe them. It is a central tenet of politicians, especially as it relates to money... People would rather have a *** in there and try to hold onto being right, than ever admit they made a mistake. I voted for him too, just because I thought he was the lesser of 2 evils. I will not make that mistake again...

This guy Greene is trying to play out his version of his fantasy of "being Trump". You aint no Trump Mr. "Bit Coin" Greene (or however this unlikely wealthy man got his money.

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