Politics

Billionaire Palm Beach Democrat Jeff Greene Fears Revolt of the Poor

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: August 6, 2012 3:55 AM

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene in West Palm Beach on June 22, 2010.

Billionaire Jeff Greene is a different kind of rich Democrat.

The man who made his fortune hedging against the real estate market -- and since 2009 accumulating mortgage-backed securities -- still wants to represent the poor, improve their lot, convince his rich friends they should pay more taxes.

But is his political ideology built on compassion? On a sense of social justice and social order?

Not exactly, says Joel Endelman, "Jeff is definitely not about compassion."

Endelman is a political consultant who for a time during 2010 worked with Greene's campaign for U.S. Senate.

"Jeff isn't one of the patrician class of Democrats like the Kennedys," he told Sunshine State News. "Kennedy Democrats are wealthy intellectuals who generally inherited their money but feel a deep sense of responsibility toward those less privileged. I'm not saying there's anything phony about Jeff Greene because there isn't. But his concern for the underclass is all about self-protection."

Why are Greene's political motives popping up now? Because Jessica Pressler of New York Magazine interviewed Greene at his Sag Harbor estate. Her story on page 14, "The Other Barbarians at the Gates" -- called "jaw-dropping" by members of his own party -- has been political talk-show fodder ever since it appeared in last week's edition.

Pressler draws a picture of Greene, 57, worth an estimated $2.1 billion, as a man who lives in fear of a populist revolt, a plundering uprising of America's "poor people." As a member of the country's richest 1 percent, Greene claims the nation's wealthiest people, people like himself, should pay more in taxes willingly -- "buy a little democracy insurance" -- because one day, "if you have 50,000 angry people coming across the river, you think you're safe?"

According to Pressler, Greene told her, "This is my fear, and it's a real legitimate fear. You have this huge, huge class of people who are impoverished. If we keep doing what we're doing, we will build a class of poor people that will take over this country, and the country will not look like what it does today. It will be a different economy, rights, all that stuff will be different."

On April 30, 2010, Palm Beach resident Greene announced his intention to run as a Democrat for the United States Senate seat held by George LeMieux, saying, "I am an outsider, the only candidate who isn’t a career politician. I’ve succeeded in the real world of hard work – the others have only succeeded at running for political office after office."

A few years earlier, calling Beverly Hills, Calif., home, Greene unsuccessfully attempted to gain the support of the Republican Party in preparation for a run there.

Ginny Marks, a GOP activist in California at the time, told Sunshine State News she recalls the party "didn't really fathom" Greene. "He found a way to get crosswise with some pretty powerful party people" in the Golden State.

During his Florida campaign, his reinvention as a Democrat, Greene was endorsed by the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board. The board commended him for his "edge and an energy that make him want to push beyond the usual talking points." Greene ultimately lost the nomination to U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who lost to Republican Marco Rubio in the November general election.

Said Endelman, "I like Jeff, but he was a heroically bad candidate. I remember at one Democratic rally he told a group he couldn't remember all the houses he owns. He tried to convince people he was a man of the people, just like them. Flying around in your private jet and talking about the bad economy, hanging out with convicted-felon celebrities, taking mega-yacht trips to Cuba -- these aren't going make you a populist among Florida Democrats.

"The story in New York Magazine does at least explain a lot about Jeff's motives," he said.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.




 






 


Comments (6)

wbp
11:27AM AUG 10TH 2012
people are beginning to release how big of a problem income inequity has become in this county. i've seen even realistic right wing pundits admit it. you cannot have a strong economy without a strong middle class. our current tax system and trend with trickle down don't bode well for the middle class. they will eventually wake up and put a stop to it. i can see why republicans don't like him.
Reggie
7:43AM AUG 7TH 2012
The people who are going to revolt are those being taxed to pay the welfare of the poor so the One Percent rent-seekers feel safe.

If the One Percent knew as much history as they do thievery, they would understand which historical precedent applies here. Hint: it ain't the French Revolution. It's a much more recently enacted scene from European history.
William in Tampa
12:08PM AUG 6TH 2012
WHAT A WUSS! This turd is trying to play both sides against the middle! Can't quite figure which way to go, I WOULDN'T VOTE for him no matter WHAT he said he was...

This guy is a marshmallow, and should just give it up - No matter WHO wins, he'll get squashed in the middle. GIVE IT UP!
Judy McKinney
12:05PM AUG 6TH 2012
No surprise here. I once dated a wealthy Jewish businessman wo told me that Jewish liberals were about taking care of the masses. According to him the French revolution was an eye opener and taking care of the masses prevented revolt.
Did any of you ever wonder how a group that makes up 2% of our population controls 70% of our country? All major movie studios, the NYT, most Wall Street firms, universities, etc. Do you really think Harvey Weinstein believes Obama is good for America? The poor pay next to nothing, the wealthy slide and the middle class is strangled thanks to this philosophy.
Doggieman007
11:15AM AUG 6TH 2012
Greene. Consummate douchebag.
Erik
3:28PM DEC 20TH 2012
this guy is a dirt bag. I am the owner of a small commercial flooring company. We did some work, quite beautiful work i might add, in his west palm beach post office bldg and have yet to be paid one penny since June 2012. I hope this scumbag billionaire sleeps well at night knowing he has robbed christmas from my family and causing great strain on my company to survive while he gets richer.

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