REKERS GOT TAXPAYER MONEY FROM FLORIDA’S MCCOLLUM…. At first blush, the controversy surrounding George Alan Rekers is just another embarrassment for the religious right movement, and another example of bizarre personal hypocrisy on the far-right. But the story might turn out to be more politically relevant than first believed.

If you’re just joining us, Rekers, a Baptist minister who worked with James Dobson to create the right-wing Family Research Council, has long been a virulently anti-gay crusader. It was interesting, then, when we learned this week that Rekers hired a young, male prostitute to join him on a European vacation last month. Rekers met his travel companion on a website devoted to connecting gay escorts with clients.

Though Rekers later said he merely counseled his companion on how to stop being gay, the escort later said the two were physically intimate.

Yesterday, however, the larger story took on a new angle. Rachel Slajda reports that Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R), currently a leading gubernatorial candidate, used taxpayer money to pay Rekers to bash gays.

[McCollum] paid George Rekers at least $60,900 to be an expert witness in 2008 while defending Florida’s ban against gay couple adopting children. When a judge called Rekers’ testimony neither “credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy,” McCollum explicitly defended him in following briefs.

Rekers is currently embroiled in a scandal for hiring a male escort to accompany him on a trip to Europe. But he’s also a leader in the ex-gay movement. He co-founded the Family Research Council and sits on the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. He has, by all accounts, dedicated his life to protecting children from the “harmful” influence of gay people.

In his testimony for the state of Florida, Rekers testified that homosexual people have a higher incidence of depression, substance abuse and break-ups than heterosexual people. This, he testified, made homosexual partners incapable of “providing a safe and secure and emotionally stable environment for the child.”

Rekers’ anti-gay testimony was ridiculous, and the judge in the case rejected his remarks, noting that his conclusions are “motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science.”

But this certainly seems like an area that warrants some follow-up. Bill McCollum used at least $60,900 in taxpayer money — more than most Americans earn in a year — to pay Rekers to make ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims against gay people? And then we find out that Rekers also gallivanted through Europe with a male prostitute?

McCollum has been leading in most statewide polls, but this one might leave a mark.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.