It has recently come to my attention that an old friend is running for office in the Natural State. And I’d like to object.
Back in 2010, I was an active volunteer on a local gubernatorial campaign. Fresh off of Governor Palin’s bout of office-quitting, the opportunity for a change in the governor’s mansion seemed excitingly attainable. It ended up being anything but. However, that summer was filled with hope and enthusiasm. It was nice.
One of the many people my wife, Heather, and I met over that summer was an energetic, slightly awkward campaign manager with a great sense of humor and zero recognition of personal space. His name was Caleb Pritt. He had just been hired by Lieutenant Governor candidate Dianne Benson, who was a heavy favorite competing in a slightly contested primary for the spot on the Democratic ticket.
I first met Pritt in May of 2010, on the flight from Anchorage to Sitka for the state Democratic Party convention. He really didn’t like to fly. I shared the disdain for being hurled through the air at 40,000 feet. We hit it off.
That summer, we grew close. He helped us move into our first home. We spent many nights in our backyard over a fire, enjoying drinks and laughing about the ridiculousness of Alaska politics. Sometimes he didn’t last too long into those nights.
By the winter, that friendship ended coldly.
Things my wife and I had told Caleb in protected confidence started coming back to us. Nothing too damning – anyone who knows me can tell you I’m fairly outspoken and transparent. But when you tell someone something in confidence, you don’t expect to hear it from strangers the following day.
Friends of ours, including our roommate, let us know that Caleb had borrowed hundreds of dollars, and not bothered to repay a penny.
And then he wrote an editorial for the Anchorage Press about a good friend of mine, named Roger, who had passed away unexpectedly. Caleb barely knew him, and the capacity in which he did know him was primarily one in which he was compensated for, as a campaign manager.
He made up half of the article. He described someone who didn’t exist. I took issue.
When I objected to him, privately, he told me he was assigned the story. I was also writing for that paper at the time, and we shared an editor, so I asked if that was true.
The response: “Nope, he asked me if he could write that.”
When I pressed the issue with Caleb, he told me that my deceased friend would be ashamed of me.
I snowplowed my entire street that day. I’m still pissed off.
Caleb never settled the debts with my friends, who eventually gave up trying to collect. Last I talked to Caleb, he told me he wanted to repay them, but was “financially in a very precarious position[.]”
Apparently, that position got worse.
Six months later, Caleb threw a fundraiser for the son of his previous employer, Dianne Benson. Latseen Benson is a soft spoken Iraq War veteran who lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in 2005.
As Bent Alaska documented at the time:
A fundraiser comprising drag queens and LGBT youth at Mad Myrna’s in Anchorage on Saturday night netted over $3K+ for a severely wounded Alaska veteran to help build him a handi-capable/handi-accessible home.
Event organizer Caleb Pritt was pleased with the result.
A lot of really good people who I’m really proud to know worked tirelessly to make that fundraiser a wild success. But the money never made it to Latseen, and Caleb skipped town, returning to his home state of Arkansas.
Then, last night, I saw this news report:
[Someone] running for political office in central Arkansas has a past some folks from out of state want you to know about. Drew Pritt wants to be the next justice of the peace representing the 9th District of Pulaski County. But… there are some folks in Alaska questioning his integrity.
And there he was, from this obscure news report from Arkansas, three years later, running for office? Drew Pritt (who also has gone by A. Caleb Pritt, Andrew Pritt, Diedra, Diedra Windsor Walker, Diedra Richards, Diedra Richards Ho Jenkins, Diedra Richards Harrison, and – as I knew him – Caleb) looked into the local reporter’s eyes and said: “I didn’t steal money from the veteran, didn’t pocket, didn’t abscond, didn’t take off.”
He says he has no idea what happened to the money. He also somehow forgot the name of Latseen, the son of the candidate he worked for; who was often on the campaign trail cheering his mother on. Pritt referred to him only as “the veteran.”
So, once again…
Please don’t afford this man one single damned vote. He is everything that is wrong with everything, only worse. And then some. Times ten. Turned up to eleven. If you see him, I would ask that you encourage him to come back up north. Police still have questions. I still want answers.