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Health secretary: Help 'elect godly and moral people'

By JULIE HAUSERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 24, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- In a luncheon address to the Christian Coalition of Florida on Thursday, Florida Health Secretary Bob Brooks urged the crowd to keep trying to get more Christians in political posts, so that good can triumph over evil.

He told the audience that they should be "helping elect godly and moral people" to office.

As Brooks began to describe his plans for the state Department of Health, two members of the Christian Coalition told a Times reporter to get out of the room immediately because they considered it a private meeting.

Brooks, a physician who is opposed to abortion and served as a Republican state representative from Winter Park, has downplayed his role as a leader of the conservative Christian political movement since Gov. Jeb Bush tapped him to head the Health Department last year.

When Brooks was appointed, abortion rights supporters said they were worried that he would use his post as the state's top health officer to restrict abortion in Florida.

Later Thursday, Health Department spokesman Frank Penela said Brooks' keynote speech for the Christian Coalition was merely a chance for the secretary to "talk about health initiatives," such as efforts to reduce tobacco use and provide more health care for minorities in Florida.

"As a former politician, he also mentioned that they should get out and vote," Penela said.

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