Caton Puts Pressure on Florida Senate’s Office by Mitch E. Perry

11/17/06

Fresh off their electoral success regarding regulating Adult Clubs in Hillsborough County last week, David Caton and his Florida Family Association is now taking aim at incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt’s office. Why? Because on a revised questionnaire for potential gubernatorial appointees, one question asks the job applicant if he or she has ever been the subject of a complaint based on discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation.

Caton says such a question could ultimately prevent anyone associated with the Boy Scouts, for example, from being considered for an executive appointment. And he also said the same fate could happen to just elected State Senator Ronda Storms. After Storms opposed a gay themed display in public libraries in Hillsborough County last year, she was sued over the issue(roll tape#1 o.q.�to the bottom of the pile�)

The questionnaire was prepared by The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee over the past few months. The new question is one of 4 revisions made by the staff after doing a lengthy review to make it more up to date. Specifically, Question 14 on the survey asks applicants if they have ever been accused of several forms of "workplace misconduct" -- including sexual harassment or job discrimination based on race, age, gender or sexual orientation.

Kathy Mears is the spokesperson for the Florida Senate. He says the group is not quite fully informed about the questionnaire. She said the entire question is new, not just the inclusion of asking if an applicant has been accused of discriminating against someone because of sexual orientation (roll tape#2 o.q.�recognized discrimination�)

And Mears says as of mid day Friday, her office had been getting a lot of response from members of the Florida Family Association(roll tape#3 o.q.�this questionnaire�)

Brian Winfield is the communications director with Equality Florida. He’s not impressed by the response that David Caton has been able to generate (roll tape#4 “lack of interest�)

And Winfield says they will check the Florida Family Association, and conduct their own campaign to contact incoming Senator President Pruitt’s office (roll tape#5 o.q.�discriminate against people�)

Kathy Mears from the Florida Senate’s office says there’s literally a void in leadership right now, as Tom Lee is no longer Senate President but the incoming leader, Ken Pruitt , has not officially Senate President yet. She says any decision on how to deal with the issue won’t happen until January (roll tape#6 o.q.�when they take office�)

The questionnaire does not disqualify appointees or applicants, but asks them to explain if they have ever been convicted of a serious offense or have been accused of harassment or involved in a civil suit either as a plaintiff or defendant. Traffic fines below $250 do not have to be listed on the questionnaire.

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