The primary opponent of Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., has accused the congressman of trying to buy him out of the race – a charge Stearns has vehemently denied.
Clay County Clerk James Jett told The Florida Times-Union that the FBI is investigating the case. Jett did not immediately return a call for comment.
According to The Times-Union, Jett said he was offered, through a middleman, a job on Stearns’ staff or cash to cover the $25,000 he has spent on his campaign.
"I've got this on tape," Jett said at a local Republican meeting, according to the newspaper. Paul Flusche, a spokesman for Stearns, said in an e-mail that the charges were “totally unfounded” and “slanderous behavior.”
"Mr. Jett’s allegations arose from his own solicitations and strategies for compensation to remove himself as a candidate once he found out that Rep. Stearns would be running in the newly formed district,” Flusche said.
Flusche also said that it is "in violation of Florida state law for him to record a phone call of someone without his advising him or her he is doing it."
“The people of Clay County will see through his scandalous attempts to illegally entrap his friends to promote his candidacy,” Flusche continued. “According to his own account, the alleged telephone conversations took place in a county office building and he has cited two county employees as witnesses. Both the location of the conversations and choice of witnesses are a violation. The use of county facilities as well as county personnel as a base for his campaign is illegal.”
Special Agent Jeff Westcott, a spokesman for the FBI’s Jacksonville office, declined to comment on whether the matter was under investigation.