Sworn Testimony Makes Ken Pruitt Camera Shy
Rep. Paige Kreegel has filed a defamation suit against political consultant Randy Nielsen. I could care less about that. The real story is Ken Pruitt will testify in the case. Kreegel's lawyer wants to question Pruitt about a $36,000 donation that was placed in the home builders political committee.
Pruitt has longstanding ties to Florida Home Builders Association lobbyist Richard Gentry. The latter has donated to Pruitt's campaigns and has worked with Nielson. This maybe why Pruitt wants no reporter present when he testifies.
Pruitt's lawyer, Ron Meyer, says he will fight any efforts by newspapers to attend the deposition at a court reporting service in Port St. Lucie. "We're not going to give Rep. Kreegel and his lawyer a forum on which to grandstand," Meyer said.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Randy Nielsen sent out attacks flyers against Kreegel. Neilson states that Pruitt was not behind the ad. Pruitt is in the Florida Senate and Kreegel is in the House. Neilson's explanation is plausable. Why then is Pruitt so nervous about this?
Anticipating the crowd would ask him about the newspaper stories, Pruitt came prepared with a brown accordion folder, from which he pulled out a receipt and some of the 2003 mailers.
Pruitt said he gave $36,000 to the association, covering about half the cost of the mailers. The mailers featured Sens. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon; Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey; Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton; Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach; Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; and Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach. Also featured were Reps. Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz; and Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
If that really is the case then Pruitt wouldn't worry about reporters covering his testimony. Could it be since Pruitt was controling the purse strings, he had an idea of which candidates Neilson would target.
Kreegel is interested in Pruitt because he relies heavily on Nielsen for advice and controlled a fundraising group that sent a $36,000 donation to a home builders' political committee in the 2004 campaign. It was one of several big-money transactions between fundraising groups that paid for the anti-Kreegel mailings.
There is also the possibility that Pruitt is far deeper in the pockets of the Florida Home Builders Association then anyone is aware. I wouldn't be shocked if Neilson was writing bills for Pruitt. He's acting too skittish about this. Something doesn't jive.