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Rentboys, Cadillacs and scandals, oh my!

Dang! I left for just a few days and missed the news about the "expert" that Attorney General Bill McCollum got the state to pay $120,000 to testify in support of Florida's ban on gay adoption.

McCollum's "expert" was more recently discovered touring Europe with a male companion from the website Rentboy.com, which claims to be "the world's largest gay escort and massage site."

McCollum's expert, George Rekers, explained that he had hired his 20-year-old companion, the wonderfully named Jo-Vanni Roman, only to help him with his luggage.

Jo-Vanni apparently has claimed other things, but really, who among us is interested in those kind of details?

The point is that it took this Rentboy matter to call attention to the real issue, namely, that the elected attorney general of Florida, now seeking to become governor, hired such a fellow and had him paid $120,000 in the first place.

McCollum's initial response was to describe his role simply as "representing the Department of Children and Families." It was that department, McCollum said, that "hired him (Rekers) and paid him and needed expert witnesses, and he was available and credentialed."

But we soon learned that McCollum, in a 2007 letter to DCF, lobbied for Rekers' hiring at $300 an hour.

"Our attorneys handling this case," McCollum wrote, "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."

And there is a good reason.

It is hard to come up with scientific evidence in support of Florida's ban when the actual, you know, science keeps concluding that same-sex couples raise children just as well or better than male-female couples (even those male-female couples who do not lock their children in the bathroom as prisoners). These children are no more likely to "turn gay" (sheesh!) nor to be more troubled.

And so to find an "expert" to say otherwise is no easy matter. Enter the good Dr. Rekers, available at convenient rates to testify that same-sex adoption is, you know, icky.

Never mind that the judge in the Florida case found his testimony to be based on "strong ideological and theological convictions" and not on science, nor that courts in Arkansas had previously described his testimony as "worthless as evidence."

In Florida, it was still worth $120,000.

• • •

When it comes to Rentboy.com vs. a Cadillac Escalade, I'm goin' with Rentboy as the lead story — and yet, who cannot admire the stink surrounding U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the leading Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate?

As our colleagues at the Miami Herald report, Meek went to bat in Congress for the benefit of a Liberty City developer who (1) helped Meek's then-chief of staff buy a house, and (2) hired Meek's mother as a consultant, paying her $90,000 and paying for the aforementioned Escalade.

This developer, Dennis Stackhouse, has since been arrested on charges that he stole nearly $1 million from the failed project. He is awaiting trial. Meek has said he didn't know at the time that his mother was working for Stackhouse, and says that his now-former chief of staff's deal with the developer was "inappropriate."

Good grief!

Rentboys, Cadillacs and scandals, oh my! 05/17/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 17, 2010 10:32pm]
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