Rekers’ taxpayer-financed payday(s)

REKERS’ TAXPAYER-FINANCED PAYDAY(S)…. The controversy surrounding George Alan Rekers keeps getting more interesting. We’re well past bizarre personal hypocrisy and moving into questionable use of taxpayer funds.

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.

We talked over the weekend about the $60,900 Rekers received to bash gays in court, at the behest of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R), currently a leading gubernatorial candidate. As it turns out, that was just the retainer.

The state of Florida paid George Rekers — the anti-gay leader recently caught with a male escort — $120,000 to testify against allowing gay couples to adopt children, testimony that was deemed not credible by the judge.

Rekers was paid a $60,900 retainer. 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.

Keep in mind, McCollum used taxpayer money to have Rekers characterize gays as being incapable of providing a home for children, testimony so ridiculous that the judge chose to dismiss it out of hand. Floridians didn’t exactly get much bang for the buck.

Indeed, the heart of the controversy here is McCollum’s bizarre judgment and questionable use of taxpayer money. Rekers was, in effect, part of a sad, right-wing scheme — collecting big checks to say crazy things in court. But the real question is why McCollum personally intervened to deliver Rekers a lucrative, publicly-financed, intolerant payday.

It seems like the kind of revelation that could have political reverberations. Bill McCollum used $120,000 in taxpayer money — far 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 in Florida’s gubernatorial campaign, but this one should leave a mark.

Postscript: Reader V.S. reminded me that Rekers worked with other state governments to defend anti-gay laws, too. An enterprising researcher with time on his/her hands might be able to track down just how lucrative Rekers’ racket was.