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‘Putin’s puppet’: The feud between Democratic gov. hopefuls Jeff Greene and Philip Levine gets nastier

The Democratic governor's race just got a little Russia on it.
Jeff Greene (left) and Philip Levine (right) are both seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor. [AP Photo Steve Mitchell / Miami Herald Jose Iglesias]
Jeff Greene (left) and Philip Levine (right) are both seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor. [AP Photo Steve Mitchell / Miami Herald Jose Iglesias]
Published Aug. 16, 2018

The Jeff Greene-Philip Levine feud lives on.

Thursday, Greene announced a new ad campaign accusing Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, of being a "puppet" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Levine has gotten about $500,000 in donations from Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born, British-American mogul whose family has investments in Miami Beach. Greene's campaign seized on that fact, calling for Levine to return those donations and alleging that Blavatnik is connected to Putin — which means Levine is, too.

"Levine will be beholden to a Russian billionaire," the narrator in a new ad, which you can view here, says, "A Russian whose Trump donations are an issue in the Trump-Russia probe."

Blavatnik donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund, a fact which has come under the scrutiny of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who's leading the investigation into Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. Elections, according to ABC.

The billionaire noted to the British press last year that he didn't donate to Trump, but to his inaugural fund, which "has been responsible for organizing the inauguration ceremonies of every U.S. president since 1901," per ABC.

Levine's campaign fired back at Greene, accusing the Palm Beach billionaire of "falsely portraying the facts."

"I guess since he stood by Donald Trump and paid hundreds of thousands to have access to him at Mar-a-Lago, he is now attacking a donor who gave to President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a number of Democrats," senior Levine adviser Christian Ulvert said in a statement, "not to mention that the donor is a U.S. citizen and a well-respected entrepreneur who donated over $40 million to Harvard University."

Greene's ads aren't the only recent example of the wealthy Democrat's attempt to draw comparisons between Levine and Trump — who is politically poisonous among Democratic primary voters.

In a recently released mailer, Greene noted that Levine gave $2,400 to the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign of Marco Rubio and once labeled himself a "radical centrist."

"Calls himself a Democrat, but He's Dealing From The Republican Deck," the mailer, which features images of "joker" playing cards with the faces of Rubio, Trump and Levine, says.

A mailer from the Jeff Greene campaign accuses Philip Levine of “Dealing from the Republican deck.” Credit: Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times, Aug. 16, 2018.
A mailer from the Jeff Greene campaign accuses Philip Levine of “Dealing from the Republican deck.” Credit: Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times, Aug. 16, 2018.

For his part, Levine released a new ad of his own, titled "The Fight," which brands Levine as someone who's unafraid to stand up to the president. Greene is not mentioned in that ad, which the Levine campaign says will run across the state as part of a seven-figure buy.

When asked this week by the Tampa Bay Times about Greene's recent advertising, Levine said Greene is targeting other candidates because he doesn't have a record of his own on which to run.

"When you don't have a record … you resort to tactics that are untruthful and borderline fraudulent," Levine told the Times.

Read more: Levine: Greene attacking me because he doesn't have a record

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