The president of Florida NOW is calling on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene to drop out of the race after CBS Miami reported Greene was the subject of a police report in which he was accused of slapping a former employee on the arm in 2012. Greene says the report consists of “mischaracterizations” about the incident and he will not drop out.
The Palm Beach Police report detailing the Dec. 28, 2012, incident, Greene reportedly “smacked” Lisa Ann Thomas on the arm to get her attention to turn down the music. Thomas was a former cocktail waitress at Greene’s Omphoy Beach Resort, which is now called the Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa. She told police that while she was offended by Greene’s action, she chose not to pursue charges against the Palm Beach real estate investor.
“As can be read in the police report, this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day. Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas,” said Claire VanSusteren, Greene’s communications director. “The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume. As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume.”
According to the police report, Thomas was asked by an officer if she sustained any injuries or felt threatened physically by Greene. She told the officer, “no.”
Terry Sanders, Florida NOW President, issued a statement saying the chapter was “disgusted to learn Jeff Greene slapped one of his female employees and his campaign’s comments on the assault, blaming the victim, show he has no remorse for the assault. Jeff Greene should immediately drop out of the race.”
“The #MeToo, #TimesUp and NOW’s #EnoughIsEnough campaigns have shed a much-needed light on sexual violence, bullying and harassment,” Sanders said in a statement. “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. It was incredibly brave of her to report the assault, and we stand with her,” continued Sanders. “People like Jeff Greene have no place in politics or public service.”
Later Thursday evening, VanSusteren issued a comment alleging Sanders of “politicizing” the incident.
“Tonight Terry Sanders, Gwen Graham campaign donor and President of Florida NOW, chose to play politics with the critically important #MeToo movement,” VanSusteren said. “Terry chose to inappropriately mischaracterize a tap on the arm as something injurious or sexual in nature. I spoke with Terry and expressed my disappointment that she is politicizing and mischaracterizing this report – going against the wishes of Greene’s former employee, who asked to keep this private.”
“Terry essentially made clear that her statement was a tit for tat because she was upset about Greene’s ads on Graham’s poor environmental voting record. Welcome to politics,” VanSusteren continued. “This is a disservice to the #MeToo movement, which has empowered millions of women across the country.”
Graham and Greene have been going back and forth concerning environmental issues and conflicts of interests relating to their businesses.
Sanders later denied saying what VanSusteren claims she said in their conversation..