UPDATE: Pruitt says he’s not unnamed official in Mendelsohn indictmentby Dara Kam | October 2nd, 2009
Former state Senate President Ken Pruitt said this afternoon that he’s not the unnamed former public official who received $87,000 in secret money from Dr. Alan Mendelsohn.
The Daily Pulp blog this morning reported that Pruitt is the unidentified former public official mentioned in the indictment against Mendelsohn, a Broward County eye doctor who is charged with skimming $300,000 in campaign contributions for his own use and illegally using campaign funds to pay for his mistress’ home and car.
Seated behind his desk at the law firm where he works in the Tradition neighborhood of Port St. Lucie, the Port St. Lucie Republican told Palm Beach Post reporter Daphne Duret that he hasn’t been contacted by any law enforcement official about the investigation and rejected The Daily Pulp blog’s allegation that his name surfaced in the investigation.
“It’s a criminal investigation that I am not a part of at all,” he said. “I’m not a part of it, my name, to my knowledge, is not a part of it. I don’t know what else to say.”Pruitt described Mendelsohn as a fund-raiser who ran in both Democrat and Republican political circles. Pruitt said Mendelsohn had been a donor to his campaigns, but he said he believes any money that came to him through Mendelsohn was legal.
Pruitt, who abruptly left office this spring more than a year before his term ended, said Pulp blogger Bob Norman contacted him Friday morning about the allegations, but at the time he told him he could not affirm or deny the allegations and declined to comment further.
“Everyone is going to read into it what they’re going to read into it,” Pruitt said. “All I can say is that I am not a part of any criminal investigation.”
Pruitt said he learned about the allegations against Mendelsohn, 51, through published reports, but declined to give his opinion on the charges. Mendelsohn, a Hollywood opthalmologist, has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges. Among the allegations in the indictment was one that “from at least November 2003 through 2006 Mendelsohn caused approximately $87,000 in payments to a then public official to be made to a third party, who, agreeing to serve as an intermediary, passed the payments on to the then public offical.”
Though he said he was confident he would remain out of the criminal investigation, Pruitt said he worried about the effect that the links between he and Mendelsohn in the media would have on his family and his business.
Pruitt, who is not an attorney, in August joined the governmental affairs firm Weiss, Handler, Angelos & Cornwell, P.A., becoming their Senior Advisor of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy. He said he fears prospective clients will read the blog headlines and view him unfairly.
“When this is over, where do I go to get my name back?” he asked.