By ANDREW DeMILLO, Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A member of a Los Angeles temple apologized Thursday for offering an internship in a U.S. senator's office as part of a charity auction that the founder of "Girls Gone Wild" says he won.
Chad Brownstein said he didn't get Sen. Mark Pryor's permission to list the internship and didn't think it would be posted online before he had a chance to check with the office. He apologized to Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, in a letter Brownstein provided to The Associated Press.
A day earlier, Pryor asked the FBI to investigate who offered his internship in the auction benefiting the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
"Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis says he won the internship in the auction and planned to include it in a prize package for his TV contest, "The Search for the Hottest Girl in America." The temple has returned his money and he's no longer listing the internship as part of the prize package.
On Wednesday, Pryor's spokeswoman called the internship listing "a hoax" and alleged that the perpetrator was "fraudulently impersonating a U.S. senator."
"This proves this was not a hoax and I think the senator owes me an apology," Francis told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday.
Pryor released a statement reiterating that he has "never sold, auctioned or donated internships."
"I am glad the responsible party has come forward to clear up the matter," Pryor said. "I had already referred the case to the FBI, and it is now up to them to determine whether a crime has been committed."
Brownstein wrote that the temple had asked him if he could identify an internship that could be included in the auction. Brownstein said he had suggested the internship, but said he hadn't checked with Pryor's office beforehand.
"I didn't realize that the item would be posted before I had a chance to check with your office," Brownstein wrote. "Nor did I realize that it would be posted without the caveat that the person would have to be approved. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication."
Brownstein, a private investor, donated $2,000 to Pryor's 2002 Senate bid and arranged a 2008 tour Pryor took of the Los Angeles temple. Brownstein confirmed to The Associated Press that he sent the letter, but declined further comment.
"I wish there were something else I could say other than I am sorry," Brownstein wrote in the letter. "All I can add is I realize the error in my judgment and will certainly never make this mistake again."
In the letter, Brownstein also denied a claim Francis made earlier Thursday that the internship was arranged by the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm. Norman Brownstein, Chad's father, is chairman of the law firm's board. The firm also issued a separate statement Thursday that it had nothing to do with the auction or the internship offered.
Carol Bovill, the temple's director of early childhood centers, said she did not know anything else about the auction and hung up on an Associated Press reporter when contacted Thursday afternoon. Bovill had said the auction was arranged as part of a private party to benefit the centers.
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.
Andrew DeMillo can be reached at www.twitter.com/ademillo
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