UPDATE: Explanation arrives for Pryor intern offer | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 26, 2012

UPDATE: Explanation arrives for Pryor intern offer

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 1:54 PM

THE WINNER: TV show beneficiary of Pryor-producer disagreement.
  • THE WINNER: TV show beneficiary of Pryor-producer disagreement.


BREAKING (if I may further debase an overused word): I now have in hand an explanation from Chad Brownstein of Los Angeles for how an unpaid internship came to be offered on U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's staff, a charity fund-raising deal eagerly snapped up by Girls Gone Wild's Joe Francis, a producer of soft porn TV. He turned it into a massive publicity stunt yesterday by saying he was going to send a hot girl to Washington to be a Pryor intern.

Brownstein said he dreamed up the intern fund-raising idea, but didn't clear it with Pryor first and always assumed it would be subject to clearance on the winner. (Read: certainly not a would-be reality show hottie).

Moments before I heard from Brownstein, a lobbying firm Joe Francis had claimed was behind the deal (it's a firm headed by Brownstein's father) also disavowed any connection.

Chad Brownstein, a financier, had hosted Pryor on a visit to the Wilshire Boulevard Jewish Temple in 2006 and has contributed to Pryor campaigns. This background was noted in yesterday's exhaustive(ing) coverage.

Here's Brownstein's letter. He apologizes to the senator for the mixup.

"I didn't realize that the item would be posted before I had a chance to check with your office. Nor did I realize that it would be posted without the caveat that the person would have to be approved. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication."

Pryor still wants a full FBI review and I can't say as I blame him. His statement:


As previously stated, I have never sold, auctioned or donated internships. I am glad the responsible party has come forward to clear up the matter. I had already referred the case to the FBI, and it is now up to them to determine whether a crime has been committed.

Democrats were quick yesterday to suspect Republican mischief in this stunt yesterday. Now the Republicans are gloating. "Us? Engage in dirty tricks? Us? Never!" Capitalize on them? That's another relevant question. How Francis got enmeshed in this remains an open question.

Now back to what I posted on this earlier today:

I won't try to rehash it all, but the question of whether there was or was not a legitimate charity offer for a chance to be a summer intern for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor doesn't seem likely to go away any time soon.

The old saying about pissing matches with skunks comes to mind.

Pryor finds himself in an offense to the olfactory glands with Girls Gone Wild producer Joe Francis, whose record includes time in criminal and civil court. Early this morning, you'll see in the updated post, Francis escalated the disagreement by, in an e-mail to me, naming a lobbyist who supposedly arranged the deal and saying that it was a purely legit benefit for a Jewish temple's child care program. He says it is being disavowed now by Pryor — who's been a thorn in the side of the porn industry — only because Francis turned up as buyer/charity benefactor. To date, the Pryor side has said repeatedly and unequivocally that Francis is a liar when he claims Pryor's involvement and asked the FBI to investigate.

This much is for sure: It's been a bonanza of national publicity for Francis' titillation fest — "The Hottest Girl in America."

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, the law and lobbying firm mentioned by Joe Francis, is not yet prepared to comment, a spokesman told me this morning.

UPDATE: The firm has now issued this statement:

Sent on behalf of Bruce A. James, Managing Partner:

Neither Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck nor Norman Brownstein personally was in any way involved in the charity online auction offer of a month-long summer internship for a high school student in Senator Pryor’s office.

This appears to directly contradict Joe Francis' earlier statement. Francis says:

I was very happy to be cleared on any wrongdoing whatsoever, and I believe the senator owes me an apology for publicly defaming me and calling this a “HOAX”.

Nice try, Joe. But 1) Pryor still claims it was a bogus offer and 2) You still need to explain how you came to find out about this offer and use it as a publicity tool.

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