Reporters not welcome at Pruitt deposition
Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, will give a sworn deposition Thursday in a defamation suit filed by Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, against political consultant Randy Nielsen and the Florida Home Builders Association, among others.
The lawsuit is based on a mailing that Kreegel said defamed him in his 2004 House race by falsely claiming he had been arrested on a criminal mischief charge. Pruitt and Nielsen are longstanding political allies, but Pruitt has said he has no knowledge of the tactics used against Kreegel.
Kreegel's lawyer, Darol Carr, wants to question Pruitt about the senator's decision to steer a $36,000 donation to a home builders political committee in 2004.
Pruitt's lawyer, Ron Meyer, says he will fight any efforts by newspapers to attend the deposition at a court reporting service in Port St. Lucie. "We're not going to give Rep. Kreegel and his lawyer a forum on which to grandstand," Meyer said.
He cited a 1987 Florida Supreme Court ruling in Palm Beach Newspapers vs. Burke, in which the justices held that a deposition is not a formal judicial proceeding and the media has no constitutional right to attend.
A news reporter who tries to attend Pruitt's deposition is likely to force a postponement, pending a hearing by the judge assigned to the case.