The headline almost looks like a joke but it appears to be for real according to a press release on PR Newswire. (See update below – the press release was real but the internship was not.)
The founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” videos, Joe Francis, has a cable reality show called “The Search for the Hottest Girl in America” (warning – explicit website linked) and is offering the winner of the contest a four-week internship with our very own Sen. Mark Pryor.
Francis purchased the “once-in-a-lifetime four-week internship on Capitol Hill” at a charitable auction and added it as part of the package for the winner of his bikini-clad reality show.
“At this time more than ever, women need strong representation in Washington. Women’s issues and rights have been completely assaulted by the Republican candidates during this year’s Republican primaries.” Francis was quoted as saying. “When this opportunity presented itself, I felt there was no better way to empower women than to send the winner of Girls Gone Wild’s ‘Search for the Hottest Girl in America’ contest to Washington D.C. I truly believe that women, not men, should be making decisions for women in this country.”
Going to be an interesting summer in Pryor’s office.
UPDATE – The AP is reporting that Pryor’s office denies that they have gone wild saying they do not sell or auction its internships.
UPDATE II – It now appears Francis was scammed by a fake auction. TMZ is reporting that Francis insists he believed that he had legitimately purchased an internship opportunity. They also quote an unnamed source from Pryor’s office saying, “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.”
UPDATE III – The plot thickens a bit on this as details emerge. The AP is reporting that Francis bought the item for $2,500 on a charity auction website called BiddingForGood – sort of an Ebay of charity auctions. The charity listed was the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, CA. I have never heard of this organization, but Sen. Pryor has. According to a July 2008 newsletter on his website, Sen. Pryor visited the Temple in June 2008 to learn. From their newsletter…
“In late June, Wilshire Boulevard Temple welcomed a special visitor who came to learn about the Los Angeles Jewish community and our congregation’s special history. U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, who represents the state of Arkansas, was the guest of congregant Chad Brownstein, who arranged the visit for the senator during a recent trip to the West Coast.”
Who is Chad Brownstein? He is a venture capitalist who donated $2,000 to Pryor’s 2002 Senate campaign, and his wife (at the time), Cassandra, donated $1,000 to the 2008 re-election campaign a few months before Pryor’s trip to Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
Now, I am not saying this means Pryor knew about the charity auction. He insists he did not. But this does show a connection to the charity. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.
UPDATE IV - The Associated Press is reporting that Chad Brownstein has admitted he arranged for the auction of the internship without approval from Pryor’s office.
You can read more at this link.