Primary Challenger Urges Ethics Panel to Investigate Meek

Posted June 17, 2010 at 2:52pm

While it’s not surprising for candidates in a tight race to sling mud at each other, Florida real estate mogul Jeff Greene took the unusual step Thursday of buying television advertising in the Washington, D.C.-market to try to persuade the House ethics committee to open an investigation into his Democratic Senate primary opponent, Rep. Kendrick Meek (Fla.).

The advertisement, “Investigate,” will air on cable networks beginning Thursday.

Greene has criticized Meek over his ties to developer Dennis Stackhouse, who faces fraud charges over allegations that he pocketed $1 million in public and private funds intended for a biopharmaceutical park.

Ex-Rep. Carrie Meek (D-Fla.), the lawmaker’s mother, has also been tied to Stackhouse, who paid her $90,000 for consulting fees and provided her a Cadillac Escalade, as the Miami Herald first reported in 2007.

According to police records that the Herald reported on in May, Meek’s former district director also received a $13,000 loan from Stackhouse for a down payment on his home.

Meek has acknowledged seeking earmarks for the park, which was to be located in his district, but has denied any wrongdoing.

Meek campaign spokesman Adam Sharon dismissed the TV campaign.

“It’s no surprise that a California Republican would try to mislead D.C. voters about a Democratic primary in Florida using the ill-gotten gains he made destroying the middle class,” Sharon said. In 1982, Greene, then a Republican, unsuccessfully ran for a House seat in California.

A Florida Democratic strategist said the relatively small $16,000 ad buy will allow the advertisement to air a handful of times.

Although only Members are permitted to file formal complaints with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly known as the ethics panel, the committee may opt to launch an investigation on its own.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, a quasi-independent body established by the House in 2008 to review potential rules violations and refer investigations to the ethics committee, does review complaints from the general public, although it is not required to act on those.

A Greene spokesman said the Democratic Senate candidate did submit a similar complaint May 23 to the ethics committee.

Florida Sen. George LeMieux (R) is retiring, creating an open race for the Republican-leaning seat.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is seeking the seat as an independent candidate, and former state Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is also in the race. Greene and Meek will face off in an Aug. 24 primary.