This profile of Greene by veteran political reporter Adam Smith ran last Sunday in the St. Petersburg Times.
Smith paints a scathing portrait of a guy who appears to be an A-hole with a capital A!
Some of Smith's findings:
[B]behind the bio soundbites and chipper TV ads lies a man widely disparaged by current and former employees, former tenants and political consultants as a self-absorbed cheapskate. A lawsuit accuses him of being cruel and verbally abusive to his former chef. A deckhand shocked on Greene's Summerwind yacht had to fight eight months to get his medical bills paid after Greene denied knowing him.And then there's Greene's trip to Cuba on his 146 ft. yacht.
The buzz among Greene employees is that if the Asian or European markets have done poorly overnight, it's going to be a rough morning because Greene, a screamer, is up all hours monitoring his vast portfolio.
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.
Adam Lambert worked as captain of Greene's 145-foot yacht, Summerwind, earlier this year.
"He has total disregard for anybody else,'' chuckled Lambert, who said he was Greene's 20th and 22nd Summerwind captain (No. 21 quit after a few hours with Greene).
"I don't think I ever once had an actual conversation with him. It was always, 'I should just get rid of you, what f------ good are you? You're just a f------ boat driver. You're the third-highest paid employee in my corporation and I should just get rid of you,' '' Lambert, 43, recalled by phone from a yacht in Croatia. "It didn't bother me. I just felt sorry for the man. He doesn't seem very happy."
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.
"This guy Jeff Greene threw tons of money into new diving gear, but the crew's basic equipment — food and supplies — he didn't want to spend any money on. Summerwind has a terrible reputation,'' Hoffman said. "Mr. Greene's yacht is known to be a party yacht. When it went to Cuba, everybody talked about the vomit caked all over the sides from all the partying going on."
Hoffman couldn't believe it a few weeks back he saw Greene's campaign ads on TV.
"He has this act on TV talking about what a good guy he is, and he's anything but. He treats his own employees like s---,'' he said. "If he can't even treat his employees good, I don't see how he's going to do good for the American people."
Political consultants across Florida can attest to how Greene bargained them down an extra few hundred or thousand dollars. Lawsuits suggest a super-rich businessman often happy to stiff vendors until a court orders otherwise.
At one point, Greene owned more than 8,000 properties, and records show he was a hard-nosed landlord. One tenant complaining about heat and water problems in 2002 wound up on the phone with Greene. She said he threatened to get a city council aide who was advocating for her fired and scoffed when the woman said she was complaining to then-Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
"Mr. Greene replied, 'Ha, ha, ha. I know Rocky personally. He and his wife were married in my house. I'll see to it that this council aide will be fired,' " according to an account in city records.
He was vacationing there with his fiancee, is my strongly favored guess, [writes Tom Lyons of the Sarasota Herald Tribune] if only because that is the usual reason American yacht owners dock at Marina Hemingway near Havana.But all that aside, do we really want a senator who can best be described as "unsavory" and who seems to seek out other unsavory types like Heidi Fleiss, Mike Tyson and Lindsay Lohan? Or as Alex Pareene of Salon.com asks, "does Greene have any famous friends who haven't been convicted of crimes?"
But there is also the fact that when questioned about it on the campaign trail, Greene told two contradictory stories about that trip. And, thanks to a ban on vacation trips to Cuba, Americans taking yachting trips there typically require a few fibs, usually either in log books or to U.S. immigration officials.
In the first version Greene gave voters, he passed off his 5-day Cuba stay as a humanitarian mission. That wasn't floating too well, maybe because the Jewish organization supposedly involved knew nothing about it or because you have to report that sort of thing to do it lawfully.
Greene has since changed the story to one of an unplanned stop for yacht repairs, and waiting for parts that never arrived.
The stories clash with each other, and don't jibe with the account of a deckhand who says it was a planned trip.