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McCollum Doubled Rekers’ Fee For Incompetent Witness Testimony

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2010

Steve Rothous at the Miami Times Herald explains how Florida Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum came to pay disgraced “luggagegate” activist George Rekers more than $120,000:

The 2008 purchase requisition to pay Rekers $60,900. Click to download PDF (1.5 MB/2 pages). Via Miami Herald.

Anti-gay psychologist George Rekers charged Florida $300 an hour to testify as an expert witness in a trial defending Florida’s ban on gay people adopting. The state planned to cap Rekers’ fee at $60,900 — but paid him $120,693 after he exceeded his contracted hours.

“It is not unusual for estimated costs to require adjustment during the course of trial preparation,” said Sandi Copes, communications director for the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Copes said the extra hours were not agreed to in writing, but “merely by discussion.”

…A 2008 Florida purchase requisition states that no payment to Rekers should exceed $60,900.Florida paid Rekers $60,900 in 2007 and $59,793 in 2009 for his testimony in the case of Frank Gill, a gay foster parent seeking to adopt two young brothers. Florida is the only state that bans all gay people from adopting.

Among Rekers’ charges to the state of Florida:

• $27,000 (90 hours) to “evaluate and critique” new research.

• $5,400 (18 hours) to meet with staff at the Attorney General’s Office to prepare for deposition.

• $6,000 (20 hours) to standby at trial and deliver expert academic opinions.

The 2008 purchase requisition is available here (PDF: 1.5MB/2 pages). And what did they get for all that money? Testimony that the judge found Rekers’ testimony was “motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science.” The judge concluded: “Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court cannot consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.”

McCollum personally selected Rekers to be the state’s star expert witness, claiming that “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.” A PDF of McCollum’s recommendation and his original suggestion that Rekers be capped at $100,000 is available here (164KB/2 pages). Given the judge’s evaluation of Rekers’ testimony, the sad fact is that McCollum may well have been right: Rekers probably was the best they could find, which speaks volumes about the so-called “expertise” of these anti-gay activists.

Comments

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Mike A
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

Small nitpick :-)

Steve Rothaus works for The Miami Herald, not the Miami New Times.

justsearching
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

Is this a normal level of payment for expert testimony before a court of law? I mean, I knew supposed experts would be compensated handsomely for their time, but I wouldn’t expect the rates to be quite so high…

One wonders, what on earth did he spend his time doing? How much time does it take to fabricate all the terrible ways that a gay parent will damage a child? I hope this story helps trigger the overturn of Florida’s ban on gay couples adopting.

justsearching
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

Strike the last bit. That happened in 2008.

Timothy Kincaid
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

justsearching:

Actually that happened in 2008 due in part to Rekers’ dismal testimony. The case is under appeal.

A QUESTION TO ALL

Rekers was paid his capped 60,900 in 2007 for his testimony in the case.

The second payment wasn’t until 2009, after the state lost. But the case is under appeal.

I am assuming that the additional payment was for Rekers’ work/testimony for the appeal. Does anyone know if this is correct?

Richard Rush
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

“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.”

If there were some credible science to justify preventing gays from adopting, wouldn’t you expect there to be someone else on earth with “comparable expertise”? And if it was a matter of other “experts” refusing to testify, why would that be? The state was certainly willing to pay plenty.

And if Rekers had such “incomparable expertise” and was witness-ready, then what could he possibly have been doing to earn $120,693? He’s been “researching” this all of his life, so it was not as if he was starting from scratch.

Richard Rush
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

Maybe other potential witnesses with “comparable expertise” to Rekers’ refused to testify because they were smart enough to know that spouting/defending bullshit-science in a courtroom under oath and under scrutiny would pose risks to their fragile careers. And maybe Rekers was the only one greedy enough to do it for the right price. After all, renting boys can get expensive.

And I have to believe that Rekers has been renting boys for years. You just don’t go to rentboy.com for the first time in your life at age 61 and rent a boy for a ten-day trip to Europe. Rekers had to have developed some comfort level via previous experiences.

B John
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

Honestly, given McCollum’s insistence that no one else could do this, then given that fact that, with no additional paperwork (can you say “change order”) he doubled the fees paid to Rekkers, it sound like to me there was a conspiracy to defraud the taxpayers of Florida, and an investigation should ensue.

The fact is, Rekker’s testimony had, in another case prior to this one, been totally dismissed by another judge, so McCollum had every reason to know the guy was no expert.

Maybe he just wanted to funnel some money to an anti-gay friend. I think I’m calling my FL House Representative.

anteros
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

$120,693 at $300 an hour, that’s a lot of hours… especially for a dude who’s supposed to know stuff. i guess taking his sweet time worked to his advantage. maybe they included hours he spent on relevant work before he signed up. all that expertise, all those hours, all that money… and he still couldnt fool the judge into believing that he knew what he was talking about. actually, i dont think he fooled anybody with what he had to say about gay couples adopting kids.

i’d say he’s no expert and he didnt spend all those hours doing what he claimed he did. that’s called fraud.

if Lucien’s story brought this fraud to light, then Lucien deserves more credit – and not just from the LGBT community.

George
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

William Tam wasn’t available?

To what other use might the Florida Department of Children and Families have been able to put $120,000?

And this guy (McCollum) wants to become Governor?!?

Ben in Oakland
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

I just read somewhere– I can’t find it now– that the head of family services in Florida was someone who had helped Rekers found asomething like FOF or NARTH or something.

Tres weird, becuase that very same guy was saying that it was too much money, and the AG forced it on him.

Tres weird. I thought it might have been corruption, but now I realize that it might have been just the opposite– some moral honesty?

Not McGollum, of course.

Money Man
May 12th, 2010 | LINK

How much money would an average college philosopher make?

Lynn David
May 13th, 2010 | LINK

Rekers gets $300 an hour from the state and only paid Lucien $75? a day? Add cheapskate to his crimes.

anteros
May 13th, 2010 | LINK

Lynn David:

that’s messed up.

2.5 rekers hours would pay for 10 lucien days. i bet lucien works much harder for his survival than rekers… and lucien’s line of work is a lot more noble than rekers’. and lucien couldnt ever possibly be half the monster rekers is… he’s probably a nice guy.

it’s all upside down.

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