Kendrick Meek Archives - SaintPetersBlog

Jeff Greene’s lawyer calls out Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Greene‘s lawyer is berating the Tampa Bay Times over a story on its settlement of Greene’s libel suit against it.

Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, also is “demand(ing) that the Tampa Bay Times now disclose the amount publicly.” He sued the Times and the Miami Herald in 2010 but settled confidentially with both papers in recent weeks.

Times attorney Alison Steele, who negotiated the settlement, could not be immediately reached by phone Tuesday afternoon.

The real estate developer, who ran as a Democrat, claimed both newspapers derailed his U.S. Senate campaign that year with coverage of alleged fraudulent real estate deals and wild parties on his 145-foot yacht.

Democrat Kendrick Meek, a former state senator, went on to win the Democratic primary. The seat eventually was won by current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The newspaper ran a 226-word story on the settlement last week.

In it, Times editor Neil Brown said the settlement “represents our insurance company’s calculation of acceptable legal expenses. On the central dispute, the Times does not retract or correct our coverage, nor will we limit any future reporting.”

On Tuesday, Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood fired back with a nearly 800-word statement released to FloridaPolitics.com and other news media.

“The statement of Neil Brown is false and misleading,” Wood said. “The Tampa Bay Times is attempting to spin this settlement as a victory for the newspaper when, in fact, it was a well-deserved defeat for the Times and a victory” for Greene.

“I stand by the statement in the previous article and the Times has nothing further to add,” Brown said in an email Tuesday evening.

Wood added that the “requirement that the amount be confidential and not be disclosed was a condition imposed by the Tampa Bay Times.”

“Having focused on defamation cases for over 20 of my 39 years of law practice, I would accurately characterize the amount paid as a significant payment for the settlement of a public figure libel case, consistent with an acknowledgment of wrongdoing,” Wood said.

He added: “I can state unequivocally that the settlement amount bears no reasonable relationship to the amount of legal expenses that would have been incurred by the Tampa Bay Times if it had elected to have the case resolved by a jury trial, as opposed to a settlement.”

Greene, Wood said, “did not file and pursue this litigation for the primary purpose of financial gain.”

Rather, he did so to publicly correct the false and defamatory statements which impugned his personal and business reputation. Mr. Greene’s primary goal was accomplished by the publication of the Editor’s Notes for each article.

Mr. Greene is a multi-billionaire and philanthropist who, along with his wife, Mei Sze, have signed the Giving Pledge started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. While Mr. Greene was less concerned with the settlement amount, he wanted to make certain that the amount was large enough to be consistent with an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and could never be correctly characterized as a “cost of litigation” payment – which is exactly the mischaracterization set forth in the Brown statement.

The Tampa Bay Times did not attempt to contact Mr. Greene or me for comment prior to publishing its own self-serving article based on the Brown statement. The circumstances surrounding the Brown statement, and the Tampa Bay Times article based on it, should raise serious questions of journalistic integrity and credibility in the minds of readers of the Times.

A Miami-Dade circuit judge dismissed Greene’s suit in 2012, saying he couldn’t “prove the paper acted in malice,” a legal standard in libel actions brought by public figures.

Greene would have to show the Times and Herald knew their stories were wrong or that they had a “reckless disregard” of whether their reporting was false or not.

An appellate court reversed the judge’s decision and revived the suit, saying Greene’s claims were “legally sufficient” to move forward.

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Tampa Bay Times settles suit with Jeff Greene

The Tampa Bay Times settled a libel suit filed against it by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, the newspaper reported Thursday.

The terms of that settlement were not released.

“We have been in this legal standoff for nearly six years,” Times Editor Neil Brown said in a statement. “The settlement represents our insurance company’s calculation of acceptable legal expenses.

“On the central dispute, the Times does not retract or correct our coverage, nor will we limit any future reporting,” he added.

Greene, a real estate developer, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in 2010. The seat eventually was won by current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Greene claimed that both newspapers derailed his Senate campaign with coverage of alleged fraudulent real estate deals and wild parties on his 145-foot yacht.

Democrat Kendrick Meek, a former state senator, went on to win the Democratic primary.

One story insinuated that former boxer Mike Tyson – best man at Greene’s wedding – had used drugs on the yacht. The Times later ran a rare front-page clarification, with Tyson saying he did not use drugs on Greene’s yacht.

A Miami-Dade circuit judge had dismissed Greene’s suit in 2012, saying he couldn’t “prove the paper acted in malice,” a legal standard in libel actions brought by public figures.

Greene would have to show the Times and Herald knew their stories were wrong or that they had a “reckless disregard” of whether their reporting was false or not.

An appellate court reversed the judge’s decision and revived the suit, saying Greene’s claims were “legally sufficient” to move forward.

Greene already settled last month with The Miami Herald, the Times’ co-defendant in the case. The terms of that arrangement also weren’t disclosed.

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Whither Jeff Greene’s lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Times?

The last week of April has come and gone without a trial on billionaire Jeff Greene‘s libel suit against the Tampa Bay Times.

“We have a trial date set for the end of April,” Times attorney Alison Steele told FloridaPolitics.com last month.

With no trial, is a settlement in the offing?

Greene already settled last month with The Miami Herald, the Times’ co-defendant in the case. The terms of that arrangement weren’t disclosed.

On Friday, Steele was mum and didn’t return calls.

Greene’s attorney, Lin Wood of Atlanta, was not in the office Friday.

Coincidentally, the trial had been scheduled the week before the Times’ purchase and closure of its cross-bay rival, The Tampa Tribune.

On Friday, The Associated Press reported the paper still wasn’t saying what it paid for the Trib.

But the Times reported Wednesday it took on about $13.3 million in new debt just before the purchase, according to a mortgage filed Wednesday in Pinellas County … The new mortgage is the latest installment of financing the Times has taken out over the past three years with Crystal Financial of Boston. The Times now owes Crystal $18 million, the Times reported.

Greene, a Palm Beach real estate developer, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in 2010. The seat eventually was won by current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Greene has claimed that both newspapers derailed his Senate campaign with their reporting of alleged fraudulent real estate deals and wild parties on his 145-foot yacht.

Democrat Kendrick Meek, a former state senator, went on to win the Democratic primary.

According to a New York Times account, one story insinuated that former boxer Mike Tyson – best man at Greene’s wedding – had used drugs on the yacht.

The Tampa Bay Times later ran a rare front-page clarification, with Tyson saying he did not use drugs on Greene’s yacht.

A Miami-Dade circuit judge had dismissed Greene’s suit in 2012, saying he couldn’t “prove the paper acted in malice,” a legal standard in libel actions brought by public figures.

Greene would have to show the Times and Herald knew their stories were wrong or that they had a “reckless disregard” of whether their reporting was false or not.

An appellate court reversed the judge’s decision and revived the suit, saying Greene’s claims were “legally sufficient” to move forward.

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Today on Context Florida: Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, Hispanics and tax reform

Today on Context Florida:

While stopping Donald Trump may be a noble motivation, Jac VerSteeg says it probably isn’t sufficient. Voters judging incumbents – and that’s what Marco Rubio is in Florida – want to know what the incumbent has done for them while in office. In Rubio’s case, that’s close to nothing. In 2010, he was elected to the Senate with almost 49 percent of the vote. Independent Charlie Crist got nearly 30 percent and Democrat Kendrick Meek about 20.  Republicans liked Rubio because they considered Crist a traitor for literally embracing President Barack Obama’s stimulus. Meek was the spoiler who ensured Rubio’s victory. Florida’s important Hispanic voters saw Rubio as one of their own.

Bill Day’s latest:

BILL DAY FLORIDA PRIMARY

The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce represents more than 3 million Hispanics and has affiliations with 150 local Hispanic chambers in the Sunshine State. President and CEO Julio Fuentes calls it a diverse group of business people and advocates who don’t agree on everything, but are uniform in our strong belief in the need for a major overhaul of our nation’s outdated, overly complicated, and growth-killing tax code. That’s why Fuentes is calling on our federal representatives and the current field of presidential candidates to make tax reform a priority in the halls of Congress and on the campaign trail.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

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Jeff Greene is continuing libel suit against Times, Herald

Billionaire Jeff Greene‘s libel suit against the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald newspapers is still on after a court-ordered mediation in the case didn’t result in a settlement.

Times attorney Alison Steele, a partner in the St. Petersburg law firm of Rahdert, Steele, Reynolds & Driscoll, told Florida Politics on Tuesday that Steele also has filed an amended complaint in his lawsuit.

The new filing “amplified his allegations of a joint venture by the Times and Herald to derail Greene’s Senate candidacy,” she said in an email. A call to L. Lin Wood, Greene’s Atlanta-based lawyer, was not returned.

Greene, a 60-year-old real estate developer from Palm Beach, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in 2010. The seat eventually was won by current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, now a presidential candidate.

Greene has claimed that the newspapers derailed his Senate campaign their reporting alleged fraudulent real-estate deals and wild parties on his 145-foot yacht. Democrat Kendrick Meek, a former state senator, went on to win the Democratic primary.

According to a New York Times account, one story insinuated that former boxer Mike Tyson, best man at Greene’s wedding, had used drugs on the yacht. The Times later ran a rare front-page clarification, with Tyson saying he did not use drugs on Greene’s yacht.

A Miami-Dade circuit judge had dismissed the suit in 2012, saying Greene couldn’t “prove the paper acted in malice,” a legal standard in libel actions brought by public figures.

Here, Greene would have to show the Times and Herald knew their stories were wrong or that they had a “reckless disregard” of whether their reporting was false or not.

But an appellate court reversed the judge’s decision and revived the suit last year, saying Greene’s claims were “legally sufficient” to move forward.

Meantime, Steele said the Herald has moved for summary judgment, a ruling by a judge before trial that one side is entitled to win based on the facts and the law. A hearing on that motion has not yet been scheduled, Steele said.

Moreover, the Times withdrew a motion to dismiss on grounds of “technical errors in the amended complaint” and instead will file an answer next week, Steele said.

Depositions were held for reporter Kris Hundley, political editor Adam Smith, news librarian Caryn Baird and others, Steele added, but not yet for Greene. Also, a trial date still has not been set.

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Mitch Perry Report for 10.28.15 – Pressure grows on Rubio to leave U.S. Senate

As he continues to pile up missed votes, Marco Rubio hasn’t been shy about the fact that he can’t stand the U.S. Senate.

Fine, say his critics. Resign and let someone else do the job instead.

This morning the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is calling for Rubio to step down in their lead editorial.

If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.

Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day’s work. Don’t leave us without one of our two representatives in the Senate for the next 15 months or so.

You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems. Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy — declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans, though you are a big critic of Obamacare.

You are ripping us off, senator.

It is hard to run for president and be active in your day job. I mean, not that anyone cares that much, but how many days has Chris Christie been “governing” New Jersey in the past six months?

The precedent is Bob Dole, who quit the Senate while running for president in 1996. Of course, Dole had enjoyed a considerable career in the chamber when he made that announcement, 27 years to be exact, and 35 years overall in Congress.

For Marco it’s apparently one-and-done, as he is approaching the 5th anniversary of his big election over Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek in 2010.

Other groups are calling for Rubio to drop out as well.

“Either he does the work or he doesn’t, Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, told the Daily Beast.“And if he doesn’t want to do the work of being a Senator then he shouldn’t be getting paid for it and should step aside so that the state of Florida gets two senators.”

“If Rubio does not want to perform his duties as senator, he owes it to the public to leave office sooner rather than later,” added Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at the consumer rights group Public Citizen.

Rubio will be with all of the other Republicans in the field tonight in Boulder, Colorado, for the Republican Party’s third presidential debate of the season. The debate is supposed to stay on economics, so it’s perhaps unlikely that the topic will come up in tonight’s debate – unless somebody else brings it up, of course.

Boulder is the home of the University of Colorado, and considered one of the most progressive spots in the country. Not exactly the place where you’d figure to host a GOP debate.

In other news….

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Rohrlack is known as a relatively mild-mannered leader. So his angry missive to Rick Scott on Monday regarding the whole Sam Rashid mess at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority was strongly rebuked in a letter sent out by the Chamber Board on Tuesday.

The big news on the eve of tonight’s debate was the fact that for the first time this year, Ben Carson leads Donald Trump in a national poll. In a related story, another poll shows Trump getting just 11 percent of the Latino vote.

Brandon state Senator Tom Lee‘s 2016 legislation on alimony continues to gain (negative) attention months before the Legislative session commences. A former Circuit Court Judge says that Lee’s provision in particular on equal time child sharing  would be “unprecedented.”

Alan Grayson is happy that Congress and the president have come to an agreement on a two-year budget bill, yet the Orlando Democrat says he could ultimately oppose the proposal if certain provisions aren’t repealed.

Paul Ryan is scheduled to be voted in as House Speaker tomorrow, but don’t tell Florida Congressman Daniel Webster – or his contributors – about that possibility. 

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Saying he’s a public servant, Charlie Crist announces his candidacy for Congress

Charlie Crist is back.

The former Florida Governor announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional District on Tuesday, a position he showed little interest in until the Florida Supreme Court declared that the district had been unfairly gerrymandered this summer, and ordered the state Legislature to redraw the district. As it stands now, the new CD would become much more favorable for a Democrat to win.

With a few dozen friends and family members standing besides him in front of the recreation center in South St. Petersburg’s Childs Park, the 59-year-old St. Pete native said he was at heart a public servant, and if he were lucky enough,  looked forward to serving the people of Pinellas County in Washington next year.

“I am thankful for God for this day, and I am thankful to the Florida Supreme Court, for having the wisdom to do the right thing and have fair districts again,” he declared in his opening remarks.

Crist is announcing his run for Congress less than a year after he narrowly lost a bitterly contested battle for governor against Republican Rick Scott. It was a position he held between 2006-2010 as a Republican, before he opted out of running for reelection (where he would have been likely to be reelected) to be elected to the open U.S. Senate seat that was being temporarily filled by his friend, George LeMeiux. But when then upstart Marco Rubio started to pull away from Crist in early polling in 2010, he opted to leave the GOP and run against Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek as an independent. It did not turn out well, with Crist losing by 19 percentage points.

His speech was fairly basic. He said he would “listen” to the voters.

“I listened to the people when I stood with President Obama to help our economy get back on track,” he said. “It wasn’t popular with my former party, but because I listened, it was the right thing to do. I’ve listened to people when it comes to women’s health care….we have taken away some of their right to make their own decision…I listen to the people when it comes to teachers and education. That’s why I vetoed antoher bill that wourl dhurt hard working public teachers. I think it’s important to listen to the people. That will be a hallmark for this campaign.”

“I’ve run a fair amount of races, and I’ve won some and I’ve lost some,” he said to reporters walking to his car to make his second of three scheduled appearances on the day.”And I think you learn more from the losses than you do from the victories. And what I’ve learned is it you have to listen as hard as you can, and go out and talk to people as much as you can. They’re the boss.”

Officially, the newly configured CD 13 geographic lines have not been given a final imprimatur by the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled back in July that the Florida Legislature’s drawing up of the district back in 2012 violated the state’s Fair District amendments. The lines approved by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis earlier this month would make the district much more favorable for a Democrat to run and win in, which is why in part GOP-incumbent David Jolly opted to not run for reelection and instead will run for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Jolly appeared after Crist left the press conference in South St. Pete, where he denounced Crist as a “huckster” and said he could conceivably support another Democrat in the race if there is a not a Republican challenger, so disdainful is he of Crist (we’ll have more on Jolly’s remarks in an upcoming post).

When asked about rumors that former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker may challenge him, Crist called Baker “a good friend,” but otherwise said that possibility remained to be seen.

Eric Lynn, the 37-year-old St. Pete native who went on to serve in President Obama’s Department of Defense for six years, has been running for months for the office and has already raised more than $500,000. FloridaPolitics.com asked Crist if he would debate Lynn leading up to next August’s primary election.

“Well, let’s see what happens,” the former governor remarked. “This is just day one.”

In a statement, Lynn said, “I’m confident I will be just that for my fellow Floridians, and I’m looking forward to a spirited primary on important Democratic issues to prove it to them.”

It wouldn’t be beyond the pale to say that in some precincts of the Republican Party of Florida, Crist is loathed after he left the party in 2010 to pursue the U.S. Senate seat. “With two statewide losses and a reputation of flip-flopping when convenient, Charlie Crist is once again focusing on advancing his personal political ambitions and not the best interest of Florida families,” said Wadi Gaitan, Florida GOP spokesman. In his press release, Gaitan included a tweet from Crist from March where he wrote that he would not be seeking office in 2016.

The Florida Democratic Party was more welcoming.

“With the final implementation of the Fair District amendments, Florida Democrats are exciting and energized to pick up Congressional seats across the Sunshine State — including in Pinellas County,” said Party chair Allison Tant.

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Brandon Patty moving toward U.S. House bid in CD 6

For Brandon Patty, all signs point to 2016 congressional run to replace U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the business consultant tells Florida Politics.

The former Republican campaign staff member and Navy reservist said Friday that at the current rate “there’s no reason” he won’t be a candidate in the St. Johns County-based Congressional District 6.

Patty said his role as a consultant for Deloitte, where he analyzes new federal rules and laws for business clients, helps make him uniquely qualified for the job.

“It provides me with that understanding of the connection between constituent groups, state governments, and government generally about how in many ways, it’s unwieldy,” said Patty, saying he learned an enthusiasm for getting into the public policy weeds from observing former Gov. Jeb Bush. “Having someone there that can help navigate is an important need in our representative government.”

In talking policy, Patty hit several notes familiar to the national conservative discourse: a need to increase our focus on national defense and spending, devolving control over education policy to the local level (he opposes Common Core), and to simplify the nation’s regulatory regimes, particularly governing energy production.

Patty said he’s working alongside personal friends state Sen. Travis Hutson, former St. John’s County Commissioner Mark Miner and longtime GOP strategist Marc Reichelderfer — whom he hopes to bring aboard soon — to devise a winning path forward.

“We’ve had some great conversations and we’re encouraged by the reception we’ve received. For now, we’re continuing to explore our options to ensure the Northeast Florida has the representation that it needs as a growing region,” Patty said.

DeSantis and the 33-year-old Patty have a lot in common, as the congressional hopeful acknowledged. Both are far younger than the average lawmaker and both are staunchly conservative naval officers, though Desantis was a Harvard-trained JAG lawyer while Patty followed a more business-oriented path, earning a master’s degree in business from the London School of Economics in 2011.

Also among Patty’s early boosters: Republican State Leadership Conference chairman emeritus and 2014 Virginia senatorial nominee Ed Gillespie, who Patty said Friday is “fully on board and supportive.” Patty was an adviser to Gillespie’s campaign last year.

Patty also was special assistant for Northeast Florida under then-Gov. Bush and as a top campaign aide to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s 2010 senatorial run against independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek in 2010.

If he supports either Bush or Rubio in 2016, he isn’t saying so as of yet.

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PPP to release new poll numbers in Florida Senate race, hints of major Democratic support for Charlie Crist

In terms of survey data, it would represent the most damaging blow Kendrick Meek could suffer: what if a poll showed that more of Florida’s decided Democratic voters prefer independent Charlie Crist over presumptive Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek?

Simply put, it would be the poll heard ’round the state.

And it may be coming out tomorrow.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is offering a glimpse into a poll it will release Tuesday, which reveals a little bit of who is backing independent Gov. Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race.

“One thing we asked on the poll was whether people thought Charlie Crist should caucus with the Democrats or Republicans if he was elected. Forty-three percent of respondents said he should go with the Democrats and 37 percent with the Republicans,” noted PPP.

“Perhaps more interesting was what those planning to vote for Crist had to say. Within that group, 55 percent said he should caucus with the Democrats to only 22 percent who expressed the opinion that he should join forces with the Republicans.”

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@Greene4Florida writes open letter to @KendrickMeek: ‘Bring it on’

Dear Kendrick:

When I first entered the Senate race, I wrote to you to express my desire to run a campaign based on the issues that Floridians care about including jobs, the environment and healthcare. I proposed that we have a healthy debate on the topics that would help voters understand the clear difference between our candidacies.

Now, with just over a month before the primary election and less than 24 hours after Democrats united at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, you have resorted to vicious personal attacks against my character with your most recent mailer. This desperate and negative assault is a new low, even for you Kendrick, and I have no choice but to respond in-kind.

I can only conclude that you are attempting to distract voters from the fact that as a Congressman you failed to protect Floridians from two of the biggest crises in recent time. You failed to regulate the lenders that offered the subprime home loans that caused the housing crisis, and you failed to regulate Wall Street that caused the economic crisis which resulted in thousands of families across Florida to lose their homes and livelihoods.

The recent polls illustrate that Floridians are tired of the status quo and want a proven jobs creator that is independent of special interests to be their Senator. And regardless of the outcome of the primary, I am committed to supporting the Democratic Senate nominee and will do what I can to ensure Democrats win in November – something you have not pledged to do.

In the final weeks of this primary, I will continue to campaign across the state on the issues Floridians care about, but I will not let vicious personal attacks against my character go unanswered. I am responding quickly, forcefully and truthfully.

Sincerely,

Jeff Greene
Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate

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