(CNN) – The increasingly bitter battle for Florida’s Democratic Senate nomination reached a new height Sunday as billionaire Jeff Greene called Rep. Kendrick Meek’s ethics into question and urged his opponent to call for the resignation and return contributions from embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York.
A Meek campaign spokesman fired back calling Greene’s latest move a “stunt” intended to distract attention away from Greene’s recent political setbacks.
Greene, in a conference call with reporters, pointed to a Miami Herald report in May about questionable dealings between associates of Meek and a Florida developer facing criminal charges. And in the same call Greene challenged Meek to join him in calling for Rangel, who faces a number of ethics charges in the House, to resign as well as return or donate to charity the $5500 the congressman has received in contributions from Rangel’s political operation. Greene also urged Meek to request an ethics investigation into Meek’s dealings with the developer.
“Kendrick Meek is protecting the culture of corruption and bribery that is so prevalent in government today,” Greene said. “Florida needs new leadership that will not be beholden to any special interests.”
Meek spokesman Adam Sharon countered that Greene’s latest move was an attempt to distract attention away from himself, after several days of negative press this past week, including an unflattering profile of Greene published last Sunday in the St. Petersburg Times and multiple reports out Sunday in the St. Petersburg Times and other Florida newspapers about Greene’s ties to a failed California condominium development.
“No matter how hard Jeff Greene tries to change the subject, the spotlight is shining brightly on him and serious questions directed at Greene remain unanswered,” Sharon said. “Today's announcement is but another failed stunt in Jeff Greene's seriously imperiled and now floundering U.S. Senate campaign.”
In a Quinnipiac University poll released late last month, Greene was leading Meek by 10 percentage points among likely Democratic primary voters. The primary takes place August 24, but early voting in Florida begins Monday.