Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor said Wednesday he’s asked the FBI to investigate who set up an online auction for an internship in his Washington office that the founder of “Girls Gone Wild” says he bought for the winner of a reality show.
Pryor denied a claim that the winner of “The Search for the Hottest Girl in America” contest put on by video empire founder Joe Francis will intern in the senator’s office this summer. Pryor called the claim a “hoax” and said his office doesn’t sell, donate or auction off internships.
“We believe someone outside Senator Pryor’s office has broken the law by fraudulently impersonating a U.S. Senator, fraudulently attempting to sell a government position and using the Senate seal without authorization,” Pryor spokeswoman Lisa Ackerman said. “We have asked the FBI to fully investigate who is perpetrating this fraud against the senator and the U.S. Senate.”
An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau does not confirm or deny ongoing investigations or when it’s received a request for an investigation.
Francis, who has made a fortune marketing videotapes featuring young women flashing their breasts, announced the internship would be part of the contest winner’s prize package after bidding on it during an online charity auction for a California temple last weekend. Francis said there was “no better way to empower women” than to award the internship.
BiddingForGood, the Cambridge, Mass.-based site where Francis said he bid on the item, said the internship was put up for auction to benefit a child learning center operated by the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles and was sold for $2,500. The listing for the internship does not say who donated it. BiddingForGood spokeswoman Kaijsa Kurstin said it’s up to charities using the site to vet items they list for auction.
Bruce Berman, the temple’s development director, did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
Pryor, Arkansas’ only Democratic senator, recently announced he planned to seek a third term in 2014. His office suggested the internship auction and subsequent announcement from Francis was an attack aimed at his re-election bid. Pryor, a former state attorney general, has backed legislation aimed at cutting access to porn sites including requiring special Internet domains, age-verification filters and a 25 percent excise tax on transactions over adult sites.
Pryor told reporters he believed the claim was a publicity stunt.
“At first, I think you kind of want to chuckle about something like that but really it’s serious,” Pryor said. “Saying they’re doing all this stuff and that they’re going to be interning on Capitol Hill is just kind of out of left field.”
Francis said Wednesday that his office had not contacted Pryor’s office directly about the internship. Francis told The Associated Press on Wednesday morning he believed the internship was legitimate, but by late Wednesday afternoon his site no longer listed it as part of the prize package for the show.
“I bought what was represented to me as a four week internship on a charity auction site,” he said.
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