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The lawmaker insists he's innocent, but fellow Republicans want him to quit.
By STEVE BOUSQUET and ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
Published November 10, 2007
A jury convicted state Rep. Bob Allen on Friday of soliciting a sex act from an undercover male police officer, and fellow Republicans immediately pressured him to resign to spare the Legislature political damage.
Six jurors deliberated for three hours and 20 minutes before convicting Allen, who was accused of offering to pay $20 to perform oral sex on a Titusville police officer.
Allen, 49, of Merritt Island was convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor and faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Sentencing is set for Thursday.
"We're going to continue to seek justice," the seven-year lawmaker said after the verdict was read in Viera. "I am innocent. I've done nothing wrong."
Allen said he would not discuss his political future beforeThursday.
A half-hour after the verdict, House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, signaled possible formal House action and said Allen's conviction hurts the reputation of the Legislature.
"This conviction makes it impossible for Rep. Allen to represent responsibly the citizens of his district," Rubio's statement said. "Furthermore, it is my personal belief that it harms the reputation of the Florida House of Representatives. We will now take appropriate steps."
House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, went further.
"If he doesn't do the right thing and resign immediately, then we will be forced to begin the process of seeking his removal from office," Hasner said.
House rules mandate the removal of a member only upon a felony conviction.
"He needs to resign," Republican Party chairman Jim Greer said in an interview. "He can't effectively serve his citizens with this type of conviction."
If Allen does not vacate his office, the House could form a select committee to review the case and make a recommendation to the House, said Jill Chamberlin, a spokeswoman for Rubio.
Removing Allen from office requires a vote of two-thirds of the members. Republicans hold 77 seats and Democrats 42, with one vacancy.
Allen's case has been a festering source of embarrassment to House leaders for months.
Rubio stripped Allen of his chairmanship of the House Energy Committee and all other committees in August and banished him to a less prestigious row surrounded by Democrats.
The highly publicized case drew national attention not only for its tawdriness, but because Allen briefly held an honorary title in Sen. John McCain's Florida campaign for president. He resigned after the arrest.
Allen was arrested July 11 and accused of peering over a men's room stall in a public park.
Officer Daniel Kavanaugh said Allen asked to go someplace private, then testified telling the lawmaker: "I'm looking to get some money. Can you hook me up with $20?"
"Sure, I can do that. But this place is too public," Allen said.
Allen stopped as he and Kavanaugh left the restroom and asked if he was a police officer, then motioned to follow, the prosecutor said.
"If I was a cop, why would I be hanging around here?" Kavanaugh testified saying. "Well they come here too sometimes," he said Allen responded.
As they neared the car, Kavanaugh said he asked what Allen wanted him to do. According to Kavanaugh's testimony, the discourse went as follows:
"I don't know what you're into," Allen said.
Kavanaugh asked if Allen wanted oral sex.
"I was thinking you would want one," Allen said.
"But you'll still give me the $20 for that, right?" Kavanaugh said.
"I would not argue with that," Allen answered.
Once the arrest became public, Allen claimed he was afraid he was going to be robbed by a "stocky black man," who turned out to be Kavanaugh,
Though that statement was excluded from trial, it was like catnip for late night talk show hosts and political cartoonists.
Allen was elected in 2000 inHouse District 32 in parts of Brevard and Orange counties.
He filed a bill in the 2007 session that would have increased lewd and lascivious acts in public such as in or near a park, from a misdemeanor to a felony. The bill (HB 1475) did not pass.
Allen also was named Legislator of the Year for 2007 by the Florida Police Benevolent Association for his support of law enforcement.
The last time a sitting House member was convicted of a crime was nine years ago, when Rep. Randy Mackey, a Lake City Democrat, was convicted of tax fraud. He resigned three months later.
Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Last modified November 9, 2007, 23:44:06]