Jeff Greene pushes Kendrick Meek on Charlie Rangel – David Catanese – POLITICO.com
Florida Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene challenged Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) Sunday to join him in calling on embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign.
In a conference call, the billionaire and political neophyte whose barrage of television ads this summer has threatened Meek’s grip on the nomination said his primary opponent should return the $5,500 in contributions he’s received from Rangel or donate the funds to charity.
The ethics charges that have ensnared Rangel have put many of his Democratic colleagues in the House on defense as they head home for the August recess to campaign ahead of the midterm elections.
Greene’s attempt to link Meek to Rangel falls in line with his strategy of painting the congressman as part of a "culture of corruption" that has tainted Congress. For weeks, Greene has been hammering Meek for his relationship with indicted developer Dennis Stackhouse, who Politifact reports obtained a $72,750 earmark through Meek in 2004 for a Miami-area biopharmaceutical park that was never built. Meek also unsuccessfully sought another $4 million in federal appropriations for the project.
Stackhouse, who is accused of stealing nearly $1 million from a county agency and a bank in connection with the failed project, hired Meek’s mother as a consultant (paying her $90,000 in fees) and provided her with a Cadillac Escalade, according to Politifact. Stackhouse also arranged a home mortgage and downpayment for Meek’s then-chief of staff in Miami. Meek has said he didn’t know that Stackhouse provided the financial assistance to his mother and chief of staff, the website reported.
Greene called on Meek to follow in the footsteps of Rangel, who asked for a House ethics probe of accusations involving his own personal finances, and request a congressional investigation of Meek’s relationship with Stackhouse.
"It is very important we preserve the integrity of the House of Representatives," said Greene. "Kendrick Meek is protecting the culture of corruption and bribery."
Greene has also been forced to answer accusations involving ethical lapses.
Last week, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington added Greene to its list of "crooked candidates" for disclosing only in-kind contributions from himself on his campaign finance reports, rather than revealing the vendors used by his campaign. Meek is on the list for his relationship with Stackhouse.
The Meek campaign called Greene’s comments a stunt meant to divert attention away from his own controversies, noting that Greene has recently given varying accounts of a yacht trip to Cuba in 2007. Greene initially denied making the trip with his then-girlfriend, then said he had visited a synagogue there while his yacht docked for two days for repairs.
"Jeff Greene began last week lying to Floridians in a debate about his bacchanal in Cuba. he went on a shopping spree, broke U.S. law, lied about it and he knows it. now there are major newspapers in this state raising serious questions about a massive mortgage fraud in California and his connections to it. no matter how hard Greene tries to change the subject, the spotlight is directly on him and serious questions remain unanswered," said Meek spokesman Dave Hoffman.
Greene has denied a former employee’s allegation that he went on a shopping spree while in Cuba, a country to which travel by Americans is restricted. The Miami Herald reported Saturday that Greene sold 300 California condos to a man who was later charged with conspiracy and money laundering after subsequent buyers defaulted on their loans, but Greene told the newspaper he was not responsible for the failed loans.
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