Maybe it takes a shock jock like Bubba the Love Sponge Clem to get Alex Sink to relax.
Typically hypercautious, the prim Democratic candidate for governor joined the infamous Tampa radio host Wednesday for a live chat.
After a few minutes of government-speak about the oil spill, she was led by her host to comment upon something no less grimy but a lot more salacious: the gay escort "rentboy" scandal that has been dogging her Republican rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Sink was on it like spray tan on a prom date.
She accused McCollum of failing to take responsibility for the state spending more than $120,000 to hire George A. Rekers, a psychologist and minister, as an expert witness in a gay adoption case after his testimony had been previously deemed not credible in court.
Earlier this month, the alternative newspaper Miami New Times reported that Rekers, who has crusaded against homosexuality, traveled to Europe in April with a male prostitute whom he apparently met through the website rentboy.com. Rekers said they had "not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever," although the escort recalled giving Rekers nude massages.
"When Attorney General McCollum was asked why he would hire a man like this — who previous courts had said that his testimony had no legitimacy — his response was, 'Well it wasn't me who hired him. It was the Department of Children and Families, they hired the expert witnesses,' " Sink said, noting that it subsequently came out that McCollum had personally pushed to bring in Rekers.
"That sounds to me like a typical politician. He's faced with something, they try to sweep it under the carpet or lay the blame on somebody else, when all along he was the one who agreed to hire this Rekers, whose testimony in previous cases had already been judged to be not relevant and not accurate," said Sink, in her most extensive comments on the controversy to date.
"We don't need people in public service like that."
She drew a fawning reaction from Clem, the sometimes raunchy radio host, whose show recently featured a Tampa porn actor and alleged former mistress of Tiger Woods.
Referring to Sink's current role as state chief financial officer, Clem said: "Ms. Sink, isn't that what you're all about, is being fiscally responsible? That's what you've done is cut corners and pinched pennies and been more financially and fiscally responsible."
McCollum's campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell dismissed Sink's attacks.
"Alex Sink continues to overreach in her desperate attacks against Attorney General McCollum. Attorney General McCollum has been clear regarding the issues surrounding this case," she said. "Under the leadership of Alex Sink, the Department of Financial Services has specialized in public relations stunts and questionable and wasteful spending."
Adam C. Smith can be reached at [email protected]