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McCain campaign official denies soliciting for prostitution

  • Story Highlights
  • Florida campaign co-chairman allegedly offered undercover cop $20 for sex
  • State Rep. Bob Allen says he is innocent, will not resign from office
  • Allen says he was merely looking around park he helped build
  • Four top strategists resigned from McCain campaign a day earlier
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(CNN) -- A day after four of Sen. John McCain's top political strategists stepped down, the co-chairman of his Florida campaign was arrested Wednesday for allegedly offering an undercover police officer money for a sex act, Titusville police said.

Florida state Rep. Bob Allen faces charges of solicitation for prostitution after he was arrested in a Titusville city park that had been under surveillance, police said.

He allegedly offered an undercover police officer $20 for the unspecified act. His attorney, Philip Lupo of Titusville, said the charge was a second-degree misdemeanor.

Allen told CNN affiliate WFTV the incident was "a very big misunderstanding."

"This is a very gross mistake, a very big mistake," he said, adding that this is what the judicial system is for.

Allen said he helped build the park, and was there looking around.

At a late-afternoon press conference Thursday, Allen made a statement but took no questions.

"I am filing a not guilty plea. I am vigorously going to fight this," he said. "I am not resigning my office, because the people elected me [and] want me to do a good job and I am going to do a good job for them in finishing this term. ...

"This is an ugly and unpleasant situation that has been thrust upon me and my family that is not true, it is inaccurate and it is therefore not guilty."

There was no initial comment from the McCain campaign.

In March, the McCain campaign issued a news release on its Florida leadership team, saying, "Allen will serve as a House co-chair for Sen. McCain's campaign."

Allen was elected to the Florida House in 2000.

His arrest comes a day after McCain's campaign manager, Terry Nelson, and chief strategist, John Weaver, announced their departures in joint statements released by the campaign. McCain's deputy campaign manager and political director also resigned this week.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, the Southern regional chairman for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign, was linked to the so-called D.C. Madam's escort service.

Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, said, "This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and from my wife in confession and marriage counseling."

It was the second blow for Giuliani's campaign. Last month, South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, the state chairman for Giuliani's campaign, was indicted on federal cocaine charges. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

All About U.S. Republican Party PoliticsJohn McCainRudolph Giuliani

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