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Ethics claim against Sen. Pruitt is dismissed

His home discount was valid, the ethics panel rules.

By STEVE BOUSQUET
Published September 13, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - A complaint that accused Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, of violating ethics laws has been dismissed by the Commission on Ethics as legally insufficient.

Pruitt's attorney, Ron Meyer, confirmed the action, which came in a closed-door executive session Friday and is expected to be made public today.

Meyer said the result confirms what he said when the charges were filed in May. "All of this that was alleged against Sen. Pruitt wasn't true," he said Tuesday. "I can only assume there were political motivations in bringing this."

A related complaint against Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, a business associate of Pruitt's, also was dismissed, Bogdanoff said.

The complaints were filed by Richard Cimoch, a Democratic activist in Fort Lauderdale, based in part on news articles in the Palm Beach Post.

Among Cimoch's seven accusations against Pruitt was that Pruitt received a discount on the purchase of a home and failed to disclose it as a reportable gift under the ethics code.

The discount, from builder Wally Sanger, was $8,340.

The investigation found that Pruitt got the discount because he was a Realtor, and that the builder offered similar discounts to two other Realtors who bought homes from him.

Pruitt, 49, has been in the state Senate since 2000, and before that served 10 years in the House.

He is the choice of the Senate Republican caucus to be Senate president for two years, beginning in mid November. The designation must be confirmed at that time by an organizational session of the Legislature.

The investigation included sworn statements from Pruitt and builder Sanger, among others, and resulted in a recommendation from Assistant Attorney General James Peterson III that the complaint be dismissed.

The commission's vote Friday was unanimous, Meyer said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at 850 224-7263 or bousquet@sptimes.com.