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As the Republican primary inches closer, the three Republican candidates running for attorney general -- Holly Benson, Pam Bondi and Jeff Kottkamp -- are trying to establish themselves as the conservative candidate of choice.
One big question keeps coming up in forum after forum -- where does each candidate stand on Florida’s gay-adoption ban?
So far, all the candidates say that they would follow through on a lawsuit filed by current Attorney General Bill McCollum defending the state’s gay adoption ban.
The state’s challenge comes after a Miami judge in 2008 ruled the state’s law unconstitutional, following a lawsuit by a North Miami man who wanted to adopt two foster children cared for by him and his partner.
While all the candidates have voiced their opposition to gay adoption, social conservative John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, is not convinced that Bondi, a former prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, has established a strong enough stance in favor of the adoption ban.
On Aug. 8, 2010, Stemberger dispatched an endorsement letter supporting Kottkamp, stating that Bondi "refuses to take a position on the gay adoption ban."
We decided to check out Stemberger’s claim.
Going straight to the source, we asked Bondi her position on the issue and she responded with an e-mail stating: "As Florida’s next attorney general, I will vigorously defend Florida’s law banning gay adoption in our state. As a veteran prosecutor who has spent her entire career upholding the laws of this state, I have the training and experience necessary to successfully defend our laws in a courtroom."
Checking back on newspaper reports of earlier candidate forums and events featuring Bondi, it’s worth noting that earlier in her campaign, she was vague in outright declaring a position.
During a June 4 forum in St. Petersburg, when asked about upholding McCollum’s challenge, both Benson and Kottkamp said they would. Bondi said, "Our judiciary will make a fair and just decision regarding that case."
Earlier, at a May 18 appearance in Miami Lakes, Bondi was quoted by the St. Petersburg Times as mentioning two gay friends and noting that the adoption process needed reform. "I have friends in Tampa who are in law enforcement who have adopted from overseas, who are in a loving, committed same-sex relationship." Still, calling for an overhaul of the adoption process and clearly specifying whether or not gays should be entitled to adoption are two different things.
Bondi, a legal analyst for Fox News, began to clarify her support for the gay adoption ban in subsequent forums and newspaper interviews.
When asked by the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald in a June 5 interview whether she would follow through on McCollum’s appeal, she responded: "I will continue with General McCollum’s appeal. If [the Supreme Court] can legally hear it, yes, I will appeal."
At an Aug. 7 forum sponsored by the Christian Family Coalition, Bondi pledged to oppose gay adoption.
Bondi campaign spokesman Kim Kirtley also pointed to interviews with the editorial boards of the St. Petersburg Times on July 14 and the Sun-Sentinel on Aug. 10 where she was asked about her position on gay adoption and she stated her support for the ban. Both papers have handed Bondi an endorsement.
So back to the question. Did Bondi "refuse to take a position on banning gay adoptions"? No. She hedged at first, but she’s made it clear since then that she will pursue the appeal and opposes gay adoption. Therefore we rate his claim False.
St. Petersburg Times, "The Buzz" political blog, "Pam Bondi won’t take position on gay adoption" June 3, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "GOP candidates for Florida attorney general disagree on gay adoption ban" , June 4, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "The Buzz" political blog, "Is John Stemberger's attack on Pam Bondi good or bad for Jeff Kottamp," August 8, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "Next AG could tilt key issues," June 5, 2010, acquired through Nexis
Associated Press, "Attorney General hopefuls tout conservative views," Aug. 7, 2010, acquired through Nexis
Florida Family Policy Council website, profile John Stemberger, Aug. 16, 2010
Pam Bondi, response to PolitiFact Florida questions via e-mail, Aug. 16, 2010
Sun-Sentinel, Editorial : "Gelber, Bondi best choice for Attorney General", Aug. 13, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, Editorial "Pam Bondi for Attorney General for Republicans," Aug. 3, 2010
Kim Kirtley, campaign spokesperson for Pam Bondi, phone interview, Aug. 16 and 17, 2010
The Miami Herald, "GOP rivals McCollum Scott face-off at Christian Family Coalition forum", Aug. 7, 2010
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