A serial campaigner running for Congress in Arkansas is under investigation in Alaska for fraud, after allegedly pocketing money from a fundraiser for a wounded veteran.
Drew Pritt announced on Thursday that he is running for Congress in Arkansas’ 2nd District, the seat held by Republican Tim Griffin. Pritt, a Democrat whose website expired last week, in 2006 said he was running for Lt. Governor of Arkansas, but never filed the paperwork. He also lost a campaign for the Little Rock School Board.
But Pritt has something of a checkered past outside of his failed runs for office, which have become something of a joke in Arkansas. The LGBT blog Bent Alaska reports that Pritt has several aliases, and recently went by “Caleb Pritt” in Alaska, as well as several variations of his drag name “Diedra.”
In August, Pritt held a drag show and auction in Anchorage that purported to be raising money for the group Homes For Our Troops, a Massachusetts-based group that builds homes for disabled soldiers, the Anchorage Daily News reports. In particular, the fundraiser was meant to raise money for the son former lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Diane Benson, who lost his legs in 2005. Pritt, who had worked for Benson as a campaign manager, offered to host the fundraiser.
But, the ADN reports, Homes For Our Troops didn’t know about the fundraiser until a staffer pointed out a Facebook page advertising it — and the group never received any of the $3000-plus that was reportedly raised. “The reality is, if the Facebook page hadn’t been brought to our attention, I don’t know if we would have been made aware of it or not,” the marketing director said. “And this one was a drag show, I mean it was a little more unusual, just like, ‘That’s kind of neat, that’s different. It’s not a car wash.’”
From the ADN:
Benson had trouble getting Pritt to tell her exactly how much money had actually been raised, she said. He later said in a press release — a copy of which is posted at BentAlaska.com, along with other details about Pritt’s alleged theft — saying they’d raised more than $3,000.
Benson later found out Pritt had convinced at least one person to write two fundraising checks directly to Pritt, and that he’d talked the Imperial Court of All Alaska — the provider of a credit card reader for the auction — to also write him a check for credit card proceeds. Benson said she still isn’t sure what happened to the cash taken at the door for the $10 per head cover charge.
Sgt. Lawrence Rhodes of the financial crimes division in the Anchorage PD, confirmed to the Arkansas News Bureau that Pritt is a suspect in the investigation into the missing funds. “It’s still under investigation,” Rhodes said. “There is an investigation, but it’s not done.”
Pritt denied that he pocketed the funds. “Yes, I performed and hosted an event … but I never had control of the money,” he told the ANB. “The simple fact of the matter is, there is no warrant out there for me, there is no evidence to substantiate that. I actually had to borrow money from my mother to move home. It was a bad situation that happened.”
“I’m sorry that it happened, but the issues in this congressional race are not dealing with things in my personal life,” he added.
Bent Alaska also points out that in 1999, Pritt worked for Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R), and was slapped with a Class C felony for writing unauthorized checks. He paid $1,617 in restitution and the charges were dropped in 2003.