Regulators Want Pruitt to Explain Campaign Spending - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Regulators Want Pruitt to Explain Campaign Spending

(Story created: 8/9/06)

State regulators voted to ask Rep. Mary Pruitt about whether she illegally pocketed money from her campaign. This follows questions first raised by a NewsChannel 5 investigation.

That investigation revealed that the East Nashville Democrat pocketed thousands of dollars -- money that she says was to rent this house from herself as a campaign office.

Yet, our investigation discovered there was no electricity running into that house for months.

A month ago, a couple of members of board that regulates campaign spending suggested they really weren't that interested in investigating the questions uncovered by our exclusive investigation.

But that has now changed.

Wednesday, the state Registry of Election Finance took up the matter as a result of a complaint filed by Pruitt's Republican opponent, Jim Boyd.

This time, there was little debate about whether the agency ought to ask Pruitt to explain how she spent her campaign money.\

"The fact that she's paying herself rent doesn't mean that she's done something wrong, but it raises a question," Registry member Marian Ott said.

Boyd applauded the board's decision to issue Pruitt a "show-cause" order.

"They are asking her to come and give her side. And in our democracy, both sides should be heard," he added.

But the board only voted to ask about expenditures going back to last year, saying that they would need evidence of fraud to go back any farther.

Even though the house is owned by Pruitt personally, she reported two years ago that the money went to something called "MNP & Associates," leaving off her name.

Boyd says that's something that may look suspicious.

The Registry will take up these questions at its meeting next month.

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