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Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, sees himself as a financial power player in the general election, with the promise of spending big money to help other Democrats in their battles with Republicans.
But there is a caveat —- he’ll need to be the party’s gubernatorial nominee.
“Jeff believes it's the responsibility of whoever becomes the gubernatorial nominee to bring Democrats down the ticket to Tallahassee so they can be as effective as possible together,” Greene spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren said in an email this week.
Greene, who had put $29.45 million of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign as of Aug. 10, announced Monday he’s set aside $5 million in his new Florida Defense Fund PAC to help Democrats in this year’s elections. He also has made contributions of $1,000 to $5,000 to aid a number of Cabinet and state Senate candidates.
“This is my vision for Florida: I will help Democrats take back the Senate, make a dent in the House, and defend Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat against Rick Scott,” Greene said in a prepared statement. “Just imagine how effective we can be together.”
But he needs to be the party standard bearer, with the release noting he will contribute the money to key races “upon winning his own gubernatorial primary race.”
VanSusteren said in her email that, “If he becomes the nominee, he'll contribute $5 million to fund key races and take back the Democratic majority in the Florida Senate —- something no other gubernatorial candidate can do, or has ever done.”
The Florida Democratic Party, which did not immediately offer comment, probably shouldn’t start planning on how the money will be used. A Florida Atlantic University poll released Tuesday had Greene tied for third in the five-candidate gubernatorial primary, receiving 11 percent of the support.
Nevertheless, Greene is committed to helping candidates in several already-identified down-ballot races, his spokeswoman said.
“Jeff Greene has said that he will support these races no matter what —- he has always been a Democratic donor, and even supported now-opponent Gwen Graham in her congressional run —- but has not committed to a dollar amount if he is not leading the ticket,” VanSusteren said.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who was second in the FAU poll, said while in Tallahassee on Wednesday that he will financially support Democrats if he’s the nominee or not.
“I will continue supporting Democrats all across the way because I think the future of our nation depends upon it,” said Levine, a wealthy businessman who declined to put a number on his future contributions.
THE JOLLY-MURPHY TICKET CHATS ON
Former U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Patrick Murphy are taking their bipartisan message of compromise into the land of satellite radio.
In September, they will bring their effort to solve Washington gridlock to a one-hour national town hall on the SiriusXM POTUS (Politics of the United States) channel.
The event will air live on Sept. 21.
For nearly a year, Jolly and Murphy have made joint appearances across the country to push for political common ground.
“The response from these town halls suggests there’s a tremendous appetite for bipartisan leadership,” Murphy said in a prepared statement.
Stops on the tour have occurred at the University of Florida, Florida International University, the University of Miami, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida.
There was even insider chatter earlier this year that the duo could mount a bipartisan gubernatorial run.
Jolly is a Republican from Belleair Bluffs who represented a Democratic-leaning district. Murphy is a Democrat from Jupiter who for four years held a seat in a Republican-leaning district.
FRIED V. WELLS FARGO CONTINUES
Democrat Nikki Fried, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and medical-marijuana advocate running for agriculture commissioner, drew national attention this week when she said Wells Fargo closed her campaign account because of her links to the cannabis industry.
But Wells Fargo issued a news release Wednesday calling Fried’s claims for why her account was closed —- her political platform —- as “completely false.”
“As a national bank that is federally regulated, Wells Fargo must comply with federal law on the topic of marijuana, even in instances where state laws may differ,” Wells Fargo said in a statement. “Since federal law prohibits the sale and use of marijuana, national banks like Wells Fargo may not knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for related activities. While we recognize that resolving the differences between federal and state laws on this matter has become an industry problem, we make these decisions based on the requirements of federal law and not because of any political view on the topic.”
But Fried fired back Thursday at the bank’s explanation.
“Wells Fargo cites federal law, which bans banks from providing services to marijuana businesses or related activities,” Fried said in a news release. “Although true, and points to the marijuana industry’s larger problem they are forced to deal with, this is not what the bank wrote to my campaign. They can try to backpedal, but their own words are in black and white. Will Wells Fargo shut down every campaign account of every candidate accepting donations from those who support the expansion of medical marijuana?”
On Monday, Fried held a press conference in Tallahassee about her account being closed. During the event, she offered correspondence between herself and the bank that included a July 11 email in which a Wells Fargo senior relationship manager noted that, “As part of the onboarding of the client it was uncovered some information regarding the customers (sic) political platform and that they are advocating for expanded patient access to medical marijuana.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “So often, people live their life behind a curtain, leaving so many guessing what’s behind it, or even leaving it to them to make their own assumption —- I got tired of living behind that curtain, and it was time to open up and tell my story.” —- State Rep. Shevrin Jones (@ShevrinJones), a West Park Democrat who on Wednesday made public that he is gay.