Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Alvin McEwen Headshot

Will Rekers escort scandal sink McCollum's gubernatorial bid?

Posted: Updated:

The George Rekers escort scandal seems to have tendrils which reach way beyond destroying the effectiveness of religious right "experts" to speak against lgbt issues in court.

It has the potential of sinking the gubernatorial bid of Florida's attorney general, Bill McCollum.

According to the Miami Herald, McCollum specifically requested the services of Rekers:

Attorney General Bill McCollum personally requested that the state's Department of Children & Families hire antigay psychologist George Rekers at $300 an hour as an expert witness to defend Florida's ban on gay people adopting, records show.

``Our attorneys handling this case have searched long and hard for other expert witnesses with comparable expertise to Dr. Rekers and have been unable to identify any who would be available for this case,'' McCollum wrote in 2007 to then-DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth.

. . . Florida paid Rekers $60,900 in 2007 and $59,793 in 2009 for his testimony in the case of Frank Gill, a gay foster parent seeking to adopt two young brothers. Florida is the only state that bans all gay people from adopting.

When the scandal broke, the attorney general's office issued a statement:

As hired counsel for the Florida Department of Children and Families, our office is committed to providing our client with the best possible legal representation in this matter. Dr. Rekers, a professor emeritus from University of South Carolina and a neuropsychologist with a degree from UCLA, came to our attention by recommendation from another academic after an exhaustive search for potential expert witnesses who were willing to testify. Dr. Rekers had exceptional credentials and he had provided testimony in similar cases on two separate occasions, one of which was a Florida case in Federal Court. The contract was executed at the direction of the Department of Children and Families, and the ACLU did not object to his position as an expert at the hearing. He has completed his testimony and is no longer involved in this case

Also, Sandi Copes, communications director for the attorney general's office, said the attorney general's office will not engage or recommend Dr. Rekers in the future.

This, however, isn't enough for many people who feel that McCollum should do more than simply issue a statement.

Equality Florida, a group in the state which works for lgbt equality, is circulating a petition demanding that McCollum apologize for hiring Rekers. The petition reads as follows:

I'm writing to demand you apologize for wasting tax-dollars on the bigoted testimony of George Rekers. Once again, your decision to defend Florida's shameful adoption ban has become a national disgrace.

George Rekers was a fraud long before this scandal and you owe our state an apology. If the Arkansas Supreme Court couldn't trust him, why did you?

The petition is referencing the fact that three years before Florida hired Rekers, his testimony in an almost similar case in Arkansas (that state had a ban against gays being foster parents) was ruled as biased and worthless.

Ironically, the judge who ruled against Florida's gay adoption ban, Cindy Lederman, also deemed Rekers's testimony as untrustworthy.

Since the scandal broke, Rekers has offered several explanations for hiring the escort, but says nothing sexual took place. The escort, "Lucien," disputes this, saying that he gave Rekers several sexual massages while Rekers was in the nude.

Rekers has since resigned from the board of NARTH ( the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), an organization which pushes the inaccurate belief that gays "need to be cured" and McCollum is facing somewhat of a backlash as evidenced by the comments on his gubernatorial campaign page on Facebook attacking him for hiring Rekers.

The comments seem to be scrubbed off the page on a daily basis. But as fast as they are eliminated, new ones pop up.