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FBI Investigating Cliff Stearns

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Breaking: The FBI is investigating U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns for trying to buy his primary opponent, James Jett, out of the race — apparently offering cash and/or a job with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or a U.S. Marshall position.

Times Union: Clay Clerk accuses U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns of trying to buy him out of race

March 7, 2012 at 2:19pm

GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Clay Clerk of Courts James Jett told a group of Republicans today the FBI is looking into Rep. Cliff Stearns for what Jett said is a plot to buy him out of this fall's congressional primary.

Jett, who bowed out of the county clerk race after the state Legislature redrew congressional election lines, is running against Stearns for the newly-drawn Florida District 3, which includes much of Clay County. Stearns currently represents Clay County in District 6 from his home in Ocala, but that city has been drawn out of the area in once-a-decade redistricting. He has said he will move to Orange Park to run for re-election.

Stearns used former state Education Commissioner Jim Horne as the middle man to offer everything from money to appointed political positions, Jett said during a South Clay Republicans meeting at the Magnolia Point Golf & Country Club.

Offerings included a job on Stearns' campaign staff or cash to cover the approximately $25,000 Jett has personally spent on his congressional run, Jett said. He also said he was told there could be a job heading the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or a U.S. marshal position once there are vacancies.

The Stearns team used U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner as leverage, Jett said, though he added he doesn't believe Boehner was aware.

"I've got this on tape," Jett said. "This has national ramifications, and I don't want to harm the Republican Party."

The Times-Union has asked Jett to hear the tapes.

Florida law requires constitutional officers such as clerks of court to report potential corruption, Jett said.

The FBI gave him permission to speak publicly about the investigation, Jett said, although the agency won't.

The Times-Union is contacting Stearns and others Jett accused. Check back at PolitiJax and Jacksonville.com for updates and read Thursday's Times-Union.