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Philip Levine sends warning letters to TV stations to stop Jeff Greene ads

Contending that Jeff Greene‘s attack ads against him are false and misleading including using stock footage from Russia and elsewhere to fake environmental messes in Florida, Philip Levine has sent cease and desist letters to all Florida television stations broadcasting the commercials.

The two Democratic gubernatorial primary rivals are battling over Greene’s TV commercials launched late last week, named “Levine Latrines,” which charge that Levine, as Mayor of Miami Beach, pursued policies and programs that helped pollute Biscayne Bay.

“Jeff Greene is airing a political advertisement that makes false assertions using misleading stock video from Russia, China, Serbia, and the Czech Republic to depict Biscayne Bay,” Levine’s Senior Adviser Christian Ulvert stated in a news release issued Monday morning. “We fully expect the advertisement to be pulled, along with subsequent attempts by the Greene campaign to lie about Mayor Levine’s record.

“Jeff Greene is repeating history with his false attacks that do nothing more than divide our party. Florida Democrats deserve better.”

The skirmish is the latest in a Democratic gubernatorial campaign that has turned increasingly muddy in the past couple of weeks, with charges and counter-charges between Greene, Levine, Gwen Graham, Chris King, and Andrew Gillum. The primary is Aug. 28.

Greene’s campaign responded by saying that Levine’s lawyer will be hearing from Greene’s lawyer.

“The visuals are aides – the headlines are facts. We stand by the ad. Levine is a bully,” Greene’s campaign stated in a written response. “He tried to silence scientists and members of the press who told the public the truth about dangerous and disgusting fecal bacteria being dumped in the bay — but Jeff Greene won’t be bullied. Our attorney will be responding directly to his.”

The Levine campaign letters to the TV stations, from the campaign’s attorney Kendall Coffey, contend that those images, as well as the commercial’s allegations that the Miami Beach’s sewage system is discharging into the bay — disputed by Miami Beach’s city manager, as cited by Levine’s campaign —  are false and defamatory.

The letter suggests potential legal action but is just a first step toward establishing that possibility.

“We therefore respectfully insist that, by 5 p.m. today, your station cease and desist the broadcasting of this advertisement or any advertisements that state or imply that the City of Miami Beach discharged human waste into Biscayne Bay from its sewer system. At a minimum, these ads should be taken down pending a legal review,” Coffey writes. “Please govern yourself accordingly.”

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Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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