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Florida Senate Candidate Jeff Greene Paid DNC Member Before Getting Endorsement

First Posted: 07/21/10 06:39 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:10 PM ET

Jeff Greene Endorsement Controversy
Jeff Greene: Florida Senate Candidate Paid DNC Member Before Getting Endorsement

(AP) - When a Democratic National Committee member asked for guidance on whom to support in the Democratic Senate primary, some come quickly -- from billionaire Jeff Greene.

DNC member Jon Ausman of Tallahassee sent out a blast e-mail June 13 asking people to take a survey on the Senate race saying it "will guide me in making my endorsement choice." He says he sent the e-mail June 11, though an Associated Press reporter on the list received it June 13.

The next day, Greene, who's running against Rep. Kendrick Meek for the Democratic nomination, wrote Ausman a $4,000 check for political consultation and strategy.

Six days later, Ausman announced his endorsement in another e-mail: Greene.

He signed the endorsement e-mail as a DNC member but didn't mention that he was being paid by Greene. He says he provided 35,000 e-mail addresses in exchange for the money.

Ausman said Wednesday that he had already planned to support Greene before being paid by him and that he plans to make it clear in the future that he is a paid consultant.

"Frankly I liked Greene from the word get go," said Ausman, who received national attention in 2008 for challenging the DNC's decision to strip Florida of its delegates as punishment for holding an early presidential primary.

Ausman said he was also one of the few people who donated to the Greene campaign, writing a check below $200, the amount at which Greene must list donors.

"God bless him," Ausman said. "His check to me was bigger than the one I sent him."

Greene has spent about $6 million of his own money on the campaign while accepting $3,036 in donations.

"The endorsement of Ausman was very welcome but we also wanted to tap into his experience," said Luis Vizcaino, a Greene spokesman.

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Filed by Elyse Siegel  |