Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Men's Journal, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndyKroll.

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FL's Jeff Greene "Not a Partier"

| Mon Aug. 16, 2010 9:03 AM EDT

It's none too often that a candidate for US Senate needs time at a press conference to deny stories of wild, late-night, vomit-filled parties on his mega-yacht—and to explain, once again, that he's "not a partier." Then again, the fight for Florida's Democratic Senate nomination is anything but your typical primary race.

On Friday, Greene fielded questions at a press conference in Tallahassee about allegations from former deckhands that his yacht had hosted lurid parties more reminiscent of Jersey Shore than peaceful Caribbean cruises. As the St. Petersburg Times reports, a former employee on Greene's yacht, Summerwind, claimed the yacht "is known to be a party yacht. When it went to Cuba, everybody talked about the vomit caked all over the sides from all the partying going on." The paper cites a vignette from Gregory Zuckerman's book, The Greatest Trade Ever:

"Greene brought two Ukrainian strippers on board to make a cameo appearance and hired stewardesses from coastal towns to serve as his crew. Some doubled as massage therapists, which came in handy after a day of scuba diving, Jet Skiing, or kayaking."

Greene's campaign has repeatedly denied these stories or corrected them; a campaign spokesperson, for instance, told the St. Pete Times that "Jeff was traveling on his boat with his rabbi and his younger brother to visit Jewish sites in Romania and Odessa" and was not bringing strippers on board. And at Friday's press conference, Greene himself insisted that he's "not a partier":

Whether his partying—or not—days will sink his chances at the polls remains to be seen. A Mason-Dixon poll on Aug. 8 and 11 gave his primary contender, Rep. Kendrick Meek, a massive 14-point lead of 40 percent to 26 percent. But in an Ipsos poll conducted around the same time, Greene led with 40 percent, while Meek had only 32 percent. Pollsters, in other words, are just as confused as Florida voters.

Meek and Greene both have one remaining week to make a final push for support. Not surprisingly, Meek has ripped billionaire—and former Republican—Greene every chance he's gotten, recently quipping regarding Greene's choice of Mike Tyson as his best man at his 2007 wedding, "It's definitely not on the-things-to-do list if you want to run for public office." Stumping for Meek is former president Bill Clinton, while the deep-pocketed Greene will surely unleash a barrage of last-minute ads to push him over the top. Until next Tuesday's results come in, the Democratic primary winner is still anyone's guess.

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Wall St.: Cutting Off Big Coal's Baddest?

| Thu Aug. 12, 2010 5:00 AM EDT

After nearly wrecking the global economy, pocketing trillion-dollar bailouts, and now profiting handsomely while the American economy sputters, it's hard to muster any praise at all for the titans of Wall Street. Some recent developments on the Street, though, do deserve plaudits, however tempered: Over the past two years, many of the world's biggest banks have limited or severed ties with one of the world's most environmentally destructive practices, mountaintop removal mining.

Concentrated in the Appalachian region, MTR mining involves blasting the peaks off mountains to expose the black veins of coal underneath. But the byproduct of MTR is tons of rubble and waste from the demolition that eventually quickly finds its way into nearby rivers, streams, and other water sources, severely contaminating them. As a result, local wildlife is killed off and nearby communities suffer prolonged health issues. And as scientist Margaret Palmer at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science has testified (pdf), there's really no way to mitigate the effects of MTR. For years, the coal companies practicing MTR mining operated thanks to billions in loans from the world's biggest banks, who arranged funding deals to facilitate MTR projects.

Quote of the Day: Jeff Greene, Ice Cream

| Wed Aug. 11, 2010 9:51 AM EDT

From Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fl.) directed at his Democratic opponent, Jeff Greene, in last night's US Senate primary debate:

"Your life is a question mark and every day we learn about your business dealings and how you treat your employees and how you come up with versions of why you went to Cuba and why you didn't go to Cuba. You have more versions of why you went to Cuba than Baskins Robbins has ice cream."

As this utterance suggests, last night's Meek-Greene debate was short on, well, debating, and looked more like Ali-Spinks (the first version, that is). Indeed, the entire Meek-Greene race has devolved into a big, bruising slugfest. One day Meek's campaign blasts out an email titled "One Investigative Story, One Editorial, And One Terrible Day for Jeff Greene" and the next Greene rips Meek for his ties to security contracting company Wackenhut. And 'round and 'round it goes.

That's not to say seamy ties and skeletons in the closet—or, in this case, Cadillacs of dubious origin and vomit-caked yachts—don't matter. They do, sort of. But when they consume an entire campaign, as last night's debate showed, leaving little oxygen in the room to address issues of social and economic policy, of fixing Florida's jobless crisis or housing debacle, then we have a problem. No wonder Americans are so pissed off at Congress and disillusioned by American politics.

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