Sure, its scandalous when an anti-gay charlatan employs a male escort to lift his sack and rub his back. But the larger story is that Florida’s Attorney General, Bill McCollum, hired now disgraced professor George Rekers for $120,000 to testify as an “expert” witness in favor of the state’s ban on allowing gay people to adopt. He did so knowing that Rekers testimony had already been debunked and lacked credibility.
While the handsome Jo-Vanni Roman was a bargain for Rekers at $75 per night, “Big Spending Bill” bilked taxpayers for a handsome sum of money to defend his bible-based bigotry. As the rent boy hoopla begins to subside, people should begin to focus on the far more dangerous rent-a-quack industry, where puritanical politicians funnel public money to fellow fundamentalists who twists facts in the name of faith
“Rekers is part of a small cadre of homophobes-for-hire that charge top dollar for their bogus’expert’ witness testimony despite the fact that they’ve been discredited over and over again,” Nadine Smith, Executive Executive Director of Equality Florida, told me during an interview. “McCollum knew this guy was a fraud but he paid him anyway to burnish his conservative credentials. While thousands of children languish in the foster care system and hundreds age out of the system never having been adopted, Rekers is an ideological hired gun who will distort the truth for pay in defense of this law that dehumanizes gay people and denies children in need the stability and permanency that only adoption can bring.”
Rekers was paid a $60,900 retainer in Florida. He also received a $59,793 payment for hourly billing, according to the Department of Children and Families, for 402 hours at about $150 per hour. The payments were made by the office of the Florida attorney general, Bill McCollum, which was defending the DCF’s policy in court.
Rekers, an officer of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, testified in 2008 that LGBT people have a higher likelihood of depression, drug addiction and failed relationships. He claimed these ailments made them unfit parents who could not provide stable homes for children. Of course now we all know that Rekers thinks its okay to rent boys, not raise them.
What McCollum got for the loot was pure lies at the expense of tax payers. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman found that Rekers testimony was “motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.”
Of course, McCollum, a Republican who is now running for Florida governor as a “fiscal conservative” had to have known that he was wasting public money. Rekers had already testified in Arizona against gay foster parents. But the judge called his testimony “extremely suspect and of little, if any, assistance to the court.”
Rekers also testified on behalf of the state of Arkansas. A two-year legal battle followed after Rekers billed the state for $165,000, more than the state wanted to pay. The case concluded with Rekers receiving a $60,000 settlement, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
In an Orlando Sentinel article, “Big Spending Bill” admitted that he hired Rekers because he could not find a credible mental health expert to testify in favor of the ban.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of choice,” said McCollum.
Well, there was a choice. McCollum could have decided to save the peoples’ money and not place a disreputable witness on the stand that he knew was pushing junk science. That is what a man of good character and strong morality would have done. Clearly, McCollum has no problem abandoning the facts in the service of justifying his faith.
McCollum’s actions were a clear violation of the public trust and he has a duty to return the money to the state he was elected to represent. It would be nothing less than disgraceful if he did not pay restitution for the political prostitution that happened on his watch.
As for George Rekers, he should return the dough he has not yet squandered on rent boys to Florida, Arizona and Arkansas. He bamboozled taxpayers and should not get away with it. Of course, now we all know why he needed a strapping young man to lift his baggage. They could possibly have been filled with dirty money from his anti-gay money-grab in Florida.
It seems that Jo-Vanni Roman’sbiggest mistake was that he was in the wrong business. The quickest way to make a buck is to buck reality and provide propaganda for ambitiouss politicians such as Bill McCollum.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”