Congressman Kendrick Meek wants voters to view him as the true Democrat in his U.S. Senate primary against billionaire Jeff Greene. In a June 22, 2010, debate between the two candidates hosted by the Palm Beach Post, Meek said of his opponent:
"The first time he ever voted as a Democrat was here in Florida in 2008. He only voted four times in his life, and he's asking Floridians to come out and vote for him."
Greene's run as a Republican in 1982 in a Congressional primary in California isn't in dispute. And the Truth-o-Meter previously ruled a separate claim by Meek that Greene had only lived in Florida for two years as True.
But we wondered, did Meek accurately summarize Greene's voting record -- is it true that the 55-year-old Greene has voted only four times in his life?
We did our homework, checking voting records to determine how many times -- and under which party affiliation -- Greene voted.
First we contacted the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to ask for a history of Greene's voter registration and record. Greene registered as a Republican with an address in the city of Los Angeles in 1982, said spokeswoman Monica Flores in an e-mail. In 1992, he re-registered with an address in Malibu and changed party affiliation to "Decline to State." Flores provided copies of his 1982 and 1992 registrations.
He voted in the 1992 general election, 2000 primary and general elections and the 2004 general election, Flores wrote. That's four elections in California, and Greene campaign spokesman Paul Blank says Greene voted for Democrats -- Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry -- in those presidential races.
Another Greene spokesman Luis Vizcaino said Greene also voted in the 1982 Congressional primary, which he lost, but Flores said her office's voting history information only extends back to 1992.
We contacted Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections. Christina White, director of the office of governmental affairs, told us in an e-mail that Greene registered as a Democrat in Miami Beach on March 20, 2008. He voted Nov. 4, 2008.
We contacted Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher to ask when Greene registered in the county where he now lives. On April 14, 2010, he changed his address to Palm Beach, Bucher said. Bucher said Greene had previously registered to vote as an NPA (No Party Affiliation) in 1977 at Century Village in West Palm Beach. The office does not have any record of him voting affiliated with that registration.
Vizcaino told us that the only county that Greene registered in in California was Los Angeles County and that the only other state he registered in was Florida. We e-mailed our findings to Vizcaino who disagreed with one part regarding registration: Greene says he registered in West Palm Beach in 1973 as a Democrat -- though Bucher said he registered in 1977 as an NPA.
Vizcaino asked Greene about the discrepancy. Vizcaino said Greene replied: "If that's what they have, I must have changed it at some point. I don't know why. I am certain I was a registered Democrat."
The Greene campaign sent us this response to our query about his voting history and registration: "Jeff voted in some elections and missed some elections, voting in 4 out of the last 5 presidential elections. Jeff is an outsider and wasn't focused on politics, he was focused on building a successful business and creating jobs."
So where does that leave us?
Meek said that the first time Greene voted as a Democrat was in Florida in 2008. Based on voter history information we found in California and Florida dating back to 1992, that's true. Meek also claimed that Greene "only voted four times in his life." We found five times: 1992, twice in 2000 and 2004 in California and once in Florida in 2008. Greene's campaign said he voted in 1982 when he ran for office. We think it would be strange if he ran for Congress and didn't vote for himself, but Los Angeles did not keep such records before 1992. Greene says he first registered as a Democrat in 1973 -- but Palm Beach records show 1977 as an NPA.
Based on available records, Greene voted at least five times, likely six times -- not four. Meek isn't far off though, so we rate his claim Mostly True.