McCollum Misleads Florida about Hiring of Anti-Gay Activist, Expert Witness, and Male Escort Employe
NEWS FROM THE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
For Immediate Release: May 11, 2010
McCollum Misleads Florida about Hiring of Anti-Gay Activist, Expert Witness, and Male Escort Employer George Rekers
As soon as the story broke that Bill McCollum's expert witness for Florida's gay adoption trial was photographed traveling with a male escort from RentBoy.com, McCollum began distancing himself from Reverend George Rekers with a series of misleading statements in an effort to spread the blame.
But revealing letters from 2007 surfacing today between McCollum and then Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Bob Butterworth show that while DCF initially declined to engage Rekers' services and expressed concern with his outrageous fees, McCollum personally and aggressively pushed Rekers as a witness.
In one letter, McCollum even wrote, "I believe that this expert and his testimony are necessary to ensure a successful result in this case." McCollum also rejected DCF's plan to spend taxpayer money on only one expert witness. Amazingly, Rekers was paid over $120,000 by McCollum's Department of Legal Affairs in two separate payments in 2007 and 2009, even though DCF only agreed to pay $60,900.
"This story keeps unraveling, and Bill McCollum is the one standing in the middle of it," said Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, about McCollum's hiring of the discredited anti-gay witness. "When news first broke about Rekers' hiring of a male escort, McCollum blamed DCF for hiring him, and mislead Floridians about his personal plea for Rekers to be hired. But these letters clearly show that Rekers was Bill McCollum's handpicked witness, and he urged that taxpayer dollars be spent on Rekers over the initial protest of the DCF Secretary."
To sort out the facts from the fiction, we have compared McCollum's current statements with his 2007 words below:
BLAME GAME: Miami Herald Reported That McCollum "Steered The Blame Toward The Department Of Children And Families. McCollum "defended his agency's handling of the case, and steered the blame toward the Department of Children and Families, which he said hired him. 'I think our team's done what it should do,' he said. 'We've been defending the Constitution of the state and we've been representing the Department of Children and Families, who hired him and paid him and needed expert witnesses and he was available and credentialed.'" [Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times, 5/10/10]
- FACT: Attorney General Bill McCollum Personally Urged That The State Hire George Rekers. "Attorney General Bill McCollum personally urged that the state hire George Rekers, the anti-gay psychologist whose recent European trip with a gay male escort has exploded into a furious media frenzy since it was first reported last week." [Florida Tribune, 5/11/10]
BLAME GAME: McCollum Implied DCF To Blame In Statement to Press. The Orlando Sentinel reported that McCollum's office stated: "The contract was executed at the direction of the Department of Children and Families" without any mention of the 2007 disagreement. [Orlando Sentinel, 5/7/10]
- FACT: DCF Said They Were Concerned About Cost Of Rekers. The Department of Children and Families said they were concerned about the potential costs of Rekers' testimony. In a July 2007, letter, DCF's chief wrote to McCollum: "Due to declining state revenues, this department is under a mandate to reduce its budget by a minimum of $72 million this year. As such I am reluctant to an open-ended contract which could, as you point out, result in an obligation" over $60,900. [Bill McCollum Letter to DCF's Robert Butterworth, 7/27/07 and DCF's Robert Butterworth Letter to Bill McCollum, 7/30/07]
- FACT: DCF Agreed To McCollum's Team Hiring Rekers As Long As The Cost Was Limited To $60,900-Rekers Was Eventually Paid Twice That. "Butterworth wrote a letter back to McCollum three days later saying that he gave "great weight to the analysis and recommendation of your staff' and authorized the hiring of Rekers as long as the state's obligation did not exceed $60,900 for services through the trial. The state eventually paid twice that much over a two-year period." [Florida Tribune, 5/11/10]
BLAME GAME: In 2008 McCollum's Office Blamed DCF For Finding Rekers Which "Infuriated A DCF Official". "Rekers was so embarrassing, even back in 2008, that McCollum's office blamed DCF for finding him. That infuriated a DCF official, who said the Attorney General's Office found him, which McCollum now confirms," according to the Orlando Sentinel. [Orlando Sentinel, 5/9/10]
- FACT: The Department Of Children And Families Initially Refused To Hire Rekers But McCollum Pushed For Him In July 2007 Letter. "McCollum in his letter noted that initially DCF refused to hire Rekers, due primarily to the potential cost of his fees. Instead the child welfare agency wanted to only hire Walter Schumm, a professor of family studies at Kansas State University. 'Dr. Schumm is a good expert, but his areas of expertise are different from Dr. Rekers,' wrote McCollum." [Florida Tribune, 5/11/10]
Link to copy of 2007 letters: http://findout.typepad.com/files/rekers-letters.pdf
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