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John Raese's Link To Elite Florida Country Club Casts Shadow On Campaign

First Posted: 10/19/10 06:29 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:05 PM ET

John Raese

In the process of touting his credentials for the office, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh may have inadvertently caused West Virginia Senate candidate John Raese a major political headache.

"I happen to know John Raese," Limbaugh said, in a segment late last week that endorsed Raese's candidacy. "He is a part-time resident here in Palm Beach and he has a locker right across the, right across the bench from me at a prominent local club. I've never played golf with him, but I've met him."

Limbaugh's remarks provided a revelatory detail about Raese's biography that the candidate himself had, up till that point, kept out of the press. And as news sites pointed out at the time, it added to the somewhat damaging frame that the conservative business owner is not an authentic West Virginian.

The problem for Raese, however, could be deeper than the optics of his part-time Florida residency and membership to a "prominent local club" suddenly surfacing. The club that Limbaugh appeared to have been referring to was the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, an upper crust scene for the predominantly white, Christian, Palm Beach elite.

Membership in the Everglades Club actually landed Limbaugh in hot water roughly one year ago when he was part of a bid to buy ownership of the St. Louis Rams football franchise. Among the more unflattering aspects that surfaced then was that while the club had no formal membership guidelines, as of 2008 it had never let in a black member and there had only been one Jewish member in its history.

Everglades has, in addition, not been without its share of political controversies. The New York Post reported that: "Joseph Kennedy quit the Everglades when his son became president." And in 1996, Georgia GOP Senate candidate Guy Millner resigned his membership in the middle of a tight U.S. Senate race against Max Cleland.

To be sure, it's not entirely clear if Limbaugh was referring to the Everglades when he made his initial remarks. The Raese campaign declined on several occasions to say whether or not he was a member, merely insisting that discussion of that matter was politically motivated.

"I can see how Joe Manchin would be so desperate to talk about anything other than his undying devotion to President Obama's failed policies," said Raese spokesman Kevin McLaughlin.

An official for the club, likewise, would not confirm whether Raese was a member.

"That is definitely not got going to happen," the official said, when asked whether he could check for Raese's name. "We are not going to do that for you..."

A Google and Lexis-Nexis search yielded no results that would confirm Raese's membership at the club. But a more extensive newspaper clip search did, however, reveal that a Richard A. Raese was a member or attendee of Everglades, at least in 1955. Richard A. Raese is, it appears, John Raese's father.

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