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U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek says one of his Democratic opponents for U.S. Senate, billionaire real estate tycoon Jeff Greene, is such a newcomer to Florida that he wouldn't qualify to run for any other statewide office.
Meek makes the claim about Greene's residency on a campaign website he created in May 2010 called LeaveittoGreene.com:
"Jeff Greene only moved from California to Florida in the last two years. In fact, he would not legally be allowed to run for any other statewide office because he has not lived here long enough to meet the residency requirement."
We were interested in both parts of Meek's claim, so the questions are: when did Greene move to Florida and would his tenure here be long enough to run for any other statewide office?
First, some background on Greene.
Greene, 55, grew up in Worcester, Mass. When his parents moved to West Palm Beach, he stayed with his aunt to finish high school in Worcester, according to a Miami Herald Dec. 7, 2009 profile. He went to Johns Hopkins for college and spent school breaks in South Florida. Greene later went to Harvard Business School and then moved to Los Angeles in 1980, Forbes reported.
Here's how Greene addressed his South Florida ties on his campaign website:
"For over 40 years, Florida has been a part of my life. When I was a teenager, my family moved to Florida after my father lost his livelihood in Massachusetts. During high school I worked alongside my dad on his vending machine routes throughout South Florida. During college I worked as a bus boy and a waiter in Palm Beach. My father passed away here in Florida when I was a young man, and my 83-year-old mother has lived in West Palm Beach for over 40 years. I was born in Massachusetts and have spent time on both coasts building my real estate business. Since meeting my wife four years ago, we decided to make our home in Palm Beach where we live today with our newborn son."
The Miami-Dade property appraiser's website shows that Greene purchased a Miami Beach condo on Alton Road for $3.1 million in April 2008. The Palm Beach County property appraiser's website shows that Greene purchased a $24 million home at 1200 S. Ocean Boulevard Palm Beach in December 2009.
For other official sources showing when Greene established residency in Florida, we turned to his driver's license. Greene got his Florida driver's license on March 20, 2008, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. At the same time, he registered to vote.
Greene spokesman Paul Blank told us that Greene became a Florida resident when he moved to a boat docked at a Miami Beach marina in February 2008.
So we can say Greene established Florida residency in early 2008. Now what are those election requirements?
The Florida Division of Elections website is clear:
- United States Senator: a citizen of the U.S. for at least 9 years and resident of the state when elected.
- Governor and Lieutenant Governor: an elector and resident of the state for the preceding 7 years.
- Cabinet Members: an elector and resident of the state for the preceding 7 years.
- Justice of the Supreme Court: an elector and resident of the state upon taking office.
With only about two years' residency, Greene falls short of qualifying to run for governor or state Cabinet positions. And, since Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor, he couldn't run for that either. But the office of U.S. Senate requires only that the candidate be a resident of the state when elected, which is how Greene qualifies.
Meek's claim was that Greene "moved from California to Florida in the last two years" and that "he would not legally be allowed to run for any other statewide office because he has not lived here long enough to meet the residency requirement." We find this claim True.
Associated Press, Billionare Jeff Greene in U.S. Senate race, April 30, 2010
Miami Herald, Wall Street's losses were businessman's gain, Dec. 7, 2009
Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times, Billionaire Democrat Jeff Greene jumps into Florida Senate race, May 1, 2010
The Wall Street Journal, In Beverly Hills, a Meltdown Mogul is Living Large, Jan. 15, 2008
Forbes, The Reluctant Billionaire, Sept. 11, 2008
Miami Beach property appraiser,Jeff Greene's property listing, May 20, 2010
Palm Beach property appraiser, Jeff Greene's property listing, May 20, 2010
Kendrick Meek campaign, Leave it to Greene website, May 20, 2010
Jeff Greene campaign, website fact sheet, May 20, 2010
Interview, Kendrick Meek campaign spokesman Adam Sharon, May 20, 2010
Interview, Jeff Greene campaign spokesman Paul Blank, May 20 2010
Interview, Broward County Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney, May 21, 2010
Interview, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Ann Howard, May 21, 2010
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