A cocktail waitress who worked at Jeff Greene’s Palm Beach hotel in 2012 told police she was “smacked on the arm” by Greene when he wanted her to turn down the music in a hotel restaurant, according to a report that surfaced Thursday and was disputed by Greene, the billionaire investor who’s now a Democratic candidate for governor.
Greene merely “tapped” the woman on the arm to get her attention, said Greene’s campaign spokeswoman, Claire VanSusteren, after Miami TV station WFOR Channel 4 reported on the incident.
No charges were filed. The waitress, Lisa Ann Thomas, filed a report with the Palm Beach Police Department 17 days after the Dec. 28, 2012 encounter at Greene’s Omphoy Hotel, which is now the Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa. According to the report, Thomas, then 24, said she had not been injured and did not wish to press charges, but “said her attorney directed her to file a police report” to document the incident.
Efforts to reach Thomas Friday were unsuccessful.
According to the police report, Thomas “said Jeff Greene walked up to her and ‘smacked her on the arm’ and said, ‘can you turn down the music.’ She said she was very offended that he hit her on the arm and later resigned her job.”
The officer filing the report said he asked Thomas if she had any injuries, if she thought Greene intended to physically hurt her and if there were any “fighting words.”
“Ms. Thomas said ‘No,’ but she was offended that Jeff Greene smacked her on the arm and she thought that was inappropriate,” the report said.
VanSusteren, the Greene spokeswoman, called the incident a “non-story” being brought forward for political reasons ahead of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.
“Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas. The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume. As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume,” VanSusteren said.
“As you can read in the report, the former employee was ‘offended’ by Jeff’s actions – but did not have any injuries, did not think he intended to physically hurt her, and confirmed that no fighting words were spoken,” VanSusteren said. “Jeff wishes this former employee all the best.”
After the Miami station aired the report on the incident, the president of the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women called on Greene to drop out of the race.
“This type of assault is rooted in power imbalance, and so it’s unfortunately not surprising that a billionaire like Jeff Greene victimized a female employee. It was incredibly brave of her to report the assault, and we stand with her,” said Florida NOW President Terry Sanders.
VanSusteren noted that Sanders contributed $100 in June to Gwen Graham, one of Greene’s rivals in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“Terry chose to inappropriately mischaracterize a tap on the arm as something injurious or sexual in nature,” VanSusteren said.