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Inquiries no problem, says hopeful

Republican legislative candidate Dean Beagle says he does not think that a series of civil and criminal investigations into his electronics company should affect his campaign for the state House seat now held by Democrat Chuck Smith. Speaking at a news conference in the Hernando County Republican Party headquarters building Tuesday morning, Beagle emphasized that he plans to disassociate his campaign from his work as president of Innovative Technology Inc. "Innovative Technology is not running for this office," Beagle said. "Dean Beagle is running for this office."

Beagle, 60, has worked for Brooksville's Innovative Technology since 1984 and says that he resigned as president of the company in December to run for office.

Beagle has been retained as a consultant for the company, which installs business telephone systems and manufactures a device that is designed to protect electrical appliances from power surges associated with lightning strikes.

Beagle filed prequalifying papers last week with the Florida Secretary of State's Office that announce his intention to seek the District 47 seat. The seat, which represents all of Hernando and parts of Pasco and Sumter counties, has been held by Smith since 1978. Smith has faced re-election opposition only once in 12 years.

Innovative Technology has been investigated by several state and federal agencies for questionable business practices. At least one of the investigations was active as recently as August.

But no charges have been filed in Florida against the company or its principals, Beagle and Dennis Wilfong.

Beagle also said that none of the investigations into the company reached the stage where he would consider them serious.

"If some of us had been subpoenaed and called in and depositions had been taken in regard to lawbreaking, I'd have considered that serious," Beagle said.

Wilfong was charged with selling unregistered securities in Virginia, where he operated a similar company in the late 1970s. He was fined $4,000 and placed on three years' probation before moving to Hernando County in 1980 and founding Innovative Technology.

Beagle's resume lists a doctorate from Pacific Western University in Bellair, Calif. Mary Nelson, registrar at Pacific Western, said Tuesday that Beagle received his doctorate from the university by mail last year. Ms. Nelson described the university as "a non-traditional university."