Another round in the Jeff Greene, Tampa Bay Times feud


Jeff Greene

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has a new beef with the Tampa Bay Times, which settled with him earlier this year on a libel case dating back to 2010.

Greene is irate at the wording of news of the settlement by the newspaper.

In a story published on May 12,  Tampa Bay Times editor Neil Brown said the settlement “represents our insurance company’s calculation of acceptable legal expenses. On the central dispute, the Times does not retract or correct our coverage, nor will we limit any future reporting.”

“They’re lying,” Greene said in an interview May 18.

The Times’ Brown did not return a phone call for comment.

Greene said the settlement was “very substantial” and “many multiples of their legal fees.”

“It’s a huge settlement, a significant amount of money,” Greene said. “It was a very big wire into my account.”

Greene said both sides had agreed to keep confidential the settlement amount.  However, now that the paper is claiming the amount totaled only legal fees, Greene said he’s speaking out to dispel the paper’s attempt to downplay the figure.

The battle between the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper and the billionaire real estate investor goes back to Greene’s unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Greene spent $24 million on a four-month campaign for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination but lost to Kendrick Meek. Marco Rubio won the Senate seat in the November general election.

After the election, Greene returned to the real estate business, and bought up millions of dollars’ worth of real estate in West Palm Beach.

He also filed a libel suit against the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald, saying the papers defamed him with articles describing his role in a California condo complex and wild parties on his 145-foot yacht.

Greene blames the stories for derailing his campaign.

A judge dismissed the suit, but an appeals court ruled that the dismissal was premature and that the case should resume. A trial was set for this spring, but Greene settled confidentially with both newspapers in recent weeks.

But last week, he and his attorney, L. Lin Wood, expressed outrage at the wording of Brown’s description of the money settlement.

Greene also is annoyed that the paper’s statement said it wasn’t retracting or correcting its coverage.

Following word that Greene was peeved, the Tampa Bay Times updated its story about the settlement.

On May 19, an online article included the addition of statements by Wood. He said that as part of the settlement, editor’s notes had been added to two prior articles about Greene.

An editor’s note added to the end of the story about the condo reads that the article “should not be read inaccurately to accuse Mr. Greene of mortgage fraud.”

And an editor’s note at the end of a story about Greene’s yacht said that the article “should not be read inaccurately to accuse Mr. Greene of using drugs on his yacht.”

Both editor’s notes said, “To the extent there is ambiguity on this point, the Times regrets any confusion.”

But Greene still is mad.

“Based on Neil Brown’s recent conduct, I have to wonder if even after being forced to correct their libelous stories and write an enormous check,  the reporters at the Times will report responsibly and honestly,” Greene wrote in an email May 25.





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