Billionaire Jeff Greene has surged in polls for the Florida nomination to the U.S. Senate. Though previously unknown in political circles, Greene has used his bottomless personal fortune to mount a legitimate challenge to longtime Rep. Kendrick Meek. Along the way, Greene has drawn criticism for how he made his money -- betting against the subprime housing market -- and how he spends it -- throwing lavish parties on his yacht, cavorting with Hollywood characters such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
In a new profile in the St. Petersburg Times, Adam C. Smith digs up damning accusations from former staff members of Greene. Among them:
James Battles, Greene's former personal chef, sued him last year. The suit alleges Greene demanded round-the-clock attention and would berate and humiliate Battles when he sought reimbursement for food paid for out of his own pocket.
Battles said Greene fired him after he was hospitalized for exhaustion before one of Greene's parties. The settlement is confidential and Greene declined to discuss the case.
Harlan Hoffman, 37, was in a Fort Lauderdale yachting apparel store in 2007 when he saw a help wanted ad for Summerwind.
"There were two people from Australia there who said, 'Oh, good luck with that one. . . . We're still waiting to get paid by Summerwind.' I should have listened," Hoffman said.
The deckhand was shocked while buffing Greene's yacht and wound up hospitalized.
A boat's owner is supposed to take care of on-the-job medical costs, but Hoffman said Greene -- whom he never met -- told the insurance company he had never heard of Hoffman and that he didn't work on Summerwind. It took eight months and legal action that included affidavits from other crew members vouching for Hoffman and trashing Greene to get his bills paid. ...
Though Greene may be leading Meek in the polls, he's still well behind Republican Marco Rubio and Independent Charlie Crist. Yet he recently split with all-star adviser Joe Trippi and doesn't seem to be all that worried about his campaign:
Crazy as it sounds for a political rookie who already has spent about $10 million of his own money running for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, Greene is doing the bare minimum: several days off a week, almost no events before 11 a.m. and no overnight campaign trips. ...
"We'll do what we need to do,'' shrugged Greene, his stocking feet on a coffee table as the Atlantic surf crashed outside his $24 million Palm Beach mansion.
Read the full story at the St. Petersburg Times.