Cliff Stearns Denies, Denounces James Jett's 'Buyout' Claim
U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns denied and denounced a fellow Republican's claim that he tried to "buy" him out of the race.
James Jett, the clerk of courts for Clay County, is among the announced GOP opponents to Stearns, R-Ocala, who is running for re-election in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District.
“Mr. Jett’s claim is totally unfounded -- no one is authorized to make any claims or concessions on behalf of Representative Stearns," Stearns' press secretary Paul Flusche said in a statement obtained by Sunshine State News.
"He has not communicated with Mr. Jett at any time to get out of the race. This is a pure and simple political maneuver by Mr. Jett to illegally entrap former friends for vindictive reasons.”
According to press reports recirculated by the Florida Democratic Party, Jett claimed that Stearns offered him a job on his campaign staff or cash to cover the approximately $25,000 Jett has personally spent on his congressional run.
Jett was also quoted as saying he was told there could be a job heading the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or a U.S. marshal position once there are vacancies.
The FBI reportedly is investigating the claims, which Jett says he has on tape.
Flusche called Jett's story "contemptuous."
"Mr. Jett’s allegations arose from his own solicitations and strategies for compensation to remove himself as a candidate once he found out that Representative Stearns would be running in the newly formed district.
“The people of Clay County will see through his scandalous attempts to illegally entrap his friends to promote his candidacy."
Flusche said Jett's claim of a phone conversation raised questions about the clerk.
"The alleged telephone conversations took place in a county office building and he has cited two county employees as witnesses. Both the location of the conversations and choice of witnesses are a violation. The use of county facilities as well as county personnel as a base for his campaign is illegal.
“Also, it is in violation of Florida state law for him to record a phone call of someone without his advising him or her he is doing it. It is disappointing that we have to spend time addressing matters of this nature and for someone to have the spotlight for his slanderous behavior," Flusche said.