Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum personally pushed to hire George Rekers to testify in defense of the state’s gay adoption ban in 2008, even when the Department of Children and Families balked at the cost, according to letters obtained by the Florida Tribune.
But with Rekers now embroiled in a scandal involving a gay escort, McCollum said he wouldn’t do it again.
“We’ve been defending the constitutionality of the state law and we’ve been representing the Department of Children and Families, who hired him and paid him and needed expert witnesses and he was available and credentialed,” McCollum told the Tribune. “I wouldn’t do it again if I knew what I knew today but I didn’t know that then and neither did anybody else.”
Rekers recently admitted to hiring a male escort to accompany him on a 10-day vacation to Europe. He denies that anything sexual happened, but the escort says he was paid to give Rekers erotic massages.
The Tribune obtained letters that showed McCollum suggesting Rekers — a co-founder of the Family Research Council and a psychologist at the forefront of the ex-gay movement — to the DCF as an expert when they were sued by a gay couple who wanted to adopt two brothers.
The DCF only wanted to hire one expert, Walter Schumm. McCollum convinced them otherwise.
“Dr. Schumm is a good expert, but his areas of expertise are different from Dr. Rekers,” he wrote. “Our attorneys handling this case 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.”
The head of the DCF agreed, on the condition that the state wouldn’t have to pay Rekers any more than $60,900.
But the state ended up paying him a total of $120,000, according to records provided to TPMmuckraker by the DCF.
In his testimony, Rekers said gay couples are incapable of providing a stable home for children because they have, he said, a higher incidence of depression and substance abuse.
Rekers also testified that he himself had been a foster parent and had adopted one child.
When his testimony was criticized by the trial court judge as not credible and based in ideology, McCollum defended Rekers.
In a statement last week, McCollum’s office pointed out that Rekers is no longer involved in the case, which is ongoing.