Florida Democrat asked to drop out of gubernatorial race following years-old assault allegations

By Kaitlyn Schallhorn

Published August 10, 2018

Jeff Greene, vying for the Democratic nomination for governor in Florida, is facing calls to drop out of the race after old allegations of assault have surfaced.

Greene was accused by a cocktail waitress at his West Palm Beach resort of having “smacked her on the arm” to get her attention to turn down the music in 2012, according to a police report obtained by WFOR-TV on Thursday.

According to the police report, the waitress, who was 24 at the time, contacted law enforcement a few weeks after the alleged incident because she wanted documentation that it happened. She said she didn’t believe that Greene intended to hurt her, and she did not want to prosecute. She did, however, resign her job, according to the police report.

Florida’s National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter has called on Greene to drop out of the race, citing the recent #MeToo movement, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“This type of assault is rooted in power imbalance, and so it’s unfortunately not surprising that a billionaire like Jeff Greene victimized a female employee,” Florida NOW President Terry Sanders said in a statement. “It was incredibly brave of her to report the assault, and we stand with her.”

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The organization said it was “disgusted” by the allegations and maintained that Greene has “no place in politics or public service” because he “uses his power and privilege as a weapon against others.”

Greene’s campaign has dismissed the allegations as a “non-story” brought forth by Republicans “to weaken Jeff’s campaign,” it said in a statement.

Campaign spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren also accused Sanders of having “chose to play politics with the critically important #MeToo movement.” She said Sanders’ response to the allegations was just “tit for tat” because she didn’t like Greene’s campaign ads attacking Democratic opponent and former Rep. Gwen Graham.

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The former waitress declined to comment on the police report when reached by WFOR.

Labor organization Unite Here criticized the Greene campaign’s response to the allegations.

“Shocking. Not only because [Greene] behaved in a way that convinced a woman she should tell the police and quit working for him – but because his campaign brushed it off saying ‘this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day,’” it said on Twitter.

“Most women don’t involve the police because they’re ‘having a bad day.’ Most workers don’t resign from their jobs because they’re ‘having a bad day,’” it said. “It would be a shame if that’s how [Greene] thinks about people he wants [to] vote for him.”

Greene has billed himself as the candidate most opposed to President Trump, running commercials featuring a video of an argument he had with the president over Greene’s support of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I am the only one who has stood up against President Trump,” Greene said. “I was on CNBC, and I said exactly what I felt – that I would be scared to death to have Donald Trump as president. And let me tell you, it couldn’t be worse.”

Greene also accused the National Rifle Association (NRA) of turning “our kids into targets” in a striking campaign mailer which included images of outlined children with backpacks as shooting targets.

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Graham, too, has decried the NRA and Trump. She said that “as a mom, I am appalled with what this president represents. We can never normalize it. We can never make it OK.”

If elected, she said she would sign an executive order banning the sale of so-called assault weapons, even though she knows it would be challenged in court by the NRA.

The gubernatorial primary is August 28. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam lead the Republicans in the GOP primary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.

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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/10/florida-democrat-asked-to-drop-out-gubernatorial-race-following-years-old-assault-allegations.html