Dems Ask Bill McCollum to Pay Back $120K He Paid to George Rekers
The dominoes continue to fall after New Times exposed anti-gay activist and "researcher" Geroge Rekers's ten-day trip to Europe with a twinky, young male escort he met through RentBoy.com. The blow back has reached Attorney General Bill McCollum's campaign for governor, and now Florida's Democratic Party is demanding that McCollum pay back the $120,000 worth of taxpayer money his office paid Rekers to testify in a case supporting Florida's gay adoption ban.
Back in 2008, Miami judge Cindy Lederman overturned the long-standing ban on gay adoption in the state by allowing an openly gay man to adopt two brothers he had cared for as a foster parent for year. McCollum selected Rekers to represent the state as an "expert" witness.
Not that Rekers's testimony tipped Lederman much, she challenged its credibility and wrote that it was "motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science."
McCollum has since tried to distance himself from Rekers, but both the New York Times and democrats are asking tough questions.
Mr. McCollum has distanced himself from Dr. Rekers. "It is safe to say that if this case moves beyond this stage, Mr. Rekers will have no further involvement in the case," said Ryan Wiggins, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCollum. "We will certainly not be recommending him in the future."
To Professor Gillers, Mr. McCollum is now obligated both as a lawyer and as a public official to alert the appellate court. "It is not enough for the attorney general simply to refrain from relying on the testimony in his brief and argument," he said. "He has an affirmative duty to speak up."
Wiggins said she could not comment further on pending litigation.
And here's Chair of the Florida Democratic Party Karen Thurman's letter asking that the McCollum campaign pay back Rekers' $120,000 fee:
Dear Attorney General McCollum,
Along with millions of other Floridians, I am becoming increasingly concerned over the latest reports of waste and abuse of tax dollars by the Office of the Attorney General. While Florida has undergone severe budget cuts and readjusted priorities, your office has demonstrated a blatant disregard for our tax dollars and other revenue for the state at a time when they must be spent as thoughtfully and frugally as possible. This haphazard spending for your own personal gain or partisan agenda is even more egregious considering Florida's unemployment rate is in double digits and over a million Floridians are out of work.
The latest fact highlighting this issue is that at your personal request, George Rekers was paid over $120,000 for his "expert" testimony in support of Florida's ban on gay adoption. When the Department of Children and Families expressed concern over the high cost of Mr. Rekers's testimony, you personally insisted Mr. Rekers be selected and paid the full amount requested. Mr. Rekers was recently reported to have taken a two week trip to Europe accompanied by a gentleman whose services are advertised on a website called Rentboy.com.
Even more disturbing than the total amount paid to Mr. Rekers is the fact that he was paid almost double what was agreed upon for his discredited testimony. While Mr. Rekers was supposed to receive only $60,900 in taxpayer money, in a glaring case of incompetence, your office neglected to have Mr. Rekers sign a contract capping his fee. This allowed him to bill the State of Florida another $59,793, which your office then approved. Furthermore you personally lobbied for Mr. Rekers to testify even though in 2004 a judge in Arkansas called Mr. Rekers' testimony "extremely suspect". It is troubling that you would allow such incompetence and abuse of our tax dollar, and it calls into serious question whether you are capable of performing the most basic functions of your office, much less that of Governor.
Sadly for Florida, this fiscal recklessness is only the latest disturbing example in a long line of instances where your office wasted state funds to further your political ambitions or partisan ideology. Last year, you spent more than $2.2 million dollars to produce and air campaign style TV ads where you were featured in almost every frame. More recently, your office initiated a frivolous lawsuit challenging needed health care reform, with the state set to spend $50,000 on a no-bid contract to your old lobbying firm and unknown staff costs that are continuing to accumulate.
To show you recognize the egregious nature of your spending, your campaign should reimburse the State of Florida's treasury the full cost of the funds you steered towards George Rekers for his "expert" testimony. Anything less would be an affront to the taxpayers of our state.
Chair, Florida Democratic Party
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.