Bill McCollum

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Bill McCollum
Bill McCollum.jpg
Florida Attorney General
Former officeholder
In office
2006-2010
PartyRepublican
Education
High schoolHernando High School
Bachelor'sUniversity of Florida (1965)
J.D.University of Florida (1968)
Websites
Office website
Ira William "Bill" McCollum, Jr. (born July 12, 1944, in Brooksville, Florida) is a former Attorney General of Florida, serving from 2006 to 2010. On May 18, 2009, he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the race for Governor of Florida. [1] Following a highly intense primary campaign, McCollum lost the party nomination to millionaire Rick Scott on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 after receiving slightly over forty-three percent of the vote. [2]

Biography

Education

  • Graduated from Hernando High School
  • Bachelor's degree, University of Florida (1965)
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of Florida (1968)

Professional experience

Shortly after graduating from law school, McCollum joined the United States Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps., remaining within active duty from 1969 until 1972. After serving twenty-three years as an officer, he retired from the United States Naval Reserve as a Commander (O-5) in the United States JAG Corps. in 1992.

Political career

Florida House of Representatives (1980-2001)

McCollum was first elected to serve as a member of the Florida State House of Representatives in 1980. It was during his twenty year tenure that McCollum founded the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, chairing the committee for six years. Also at this time he served three terms on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, two of which as Chairman of its Subcommittee on Human Intelligence, Analysis, and Counterintelligence, in addition to vice chairmanship of the House Banking Committee. McCollum garnered national attention when he was selected as one of fifteen members to serve on the House Committee investigating the Iran-Contra Affair and one of the House Managers at President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial in 1998.

In the years after retiring from the State Legislature in 2001, McCollum launched two unsuccessful bids for the Republican nomination in races for the United States Senate. The first, campaigning to fill the seat left vacant by retiring Republican Senator Connie Mack, saw him lose the party nomination to former Congressman Bill Nelson. The second, in 2004, was a three way primary race between McCollum, former-Bush Administration official Mel Martinez, and businessman Doug Gallagher. Despite being considered one of the most conservative members of Congress for many years in the State Legislature, Martinez went to capture the nomination.

Florida Attorney General (2006-2010)

He ran for Attorney General of the State of Florida, defeating State Senator Skip Campbell in the general election. McCollum ran on the message of "making Florida a safer place to live, work, and raise a family."

2010 gubernatorial campaign

See also: Florida gubernatorial election, 2010
Bill McCollum for Florida Governor Campaign logo

McCollum announced his candidacy in the state's gubernatorial election on May 18, 2009. [1] He faced off against seven other challengers for the Republican nomination, among them State Senator Paula Dockery. A survey conducted by Atlanta-based Strategic Vision LLC and published shortly after McCollum made his entry into the campaign official showed the state attorney general holding a substantial lead of 44 - 28 percent over his primary opponent. [3]

A Rasmussen poll published in mid-February 2010 showed that in a head-to-head matchup between McCollum and the likely Democratic nominee, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the state's top law enforcer holds a comfortable margin of victory of 48 - 35 percent over his general election challenger. [4]

However, four months later, after Rick Scott, former CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, had officially launched his gubernatorial campaign, the latest survey conducted by Quinnipiac University shows McCollum down a startling thirteen points to political newcomer Scott. [5] Analysts argue that the shift in public sentiment against McCollum is not a reflection of their views about him. [6]

Controversies

Gay adoption witness

McCollum in December 2009 was criticized for using $120,000 in state funds to hire psychologist George Rekers as a star expert witness to testify in defense of Florida's ban on homosexual couple adopting children. Rekers, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former officer/scientific advisor for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), was severely condemned for comments made during his court testimony, which some deemed to be particularly bigoted. He remarked that homosexual couples were as undesirable as parents as "fifteen-year-old couples, 90-year-old couples, Thai-language-only speaking couples, blind and deaf parents, households with a pedophilic-behaving adult, households with practicing criminals, households with drug dealers and drug abusers, households with unemployed adults, households that advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government, households with an active terrorist, households with sexually promiscuous unmarried men and women co-habitating and households with homosexually behaving adults all have either inherent instability or inherent disadvantage, stress, and potential harm to placed children.” [7]

Rekers's testimony was cited as the primary reason why the Honorable Cindy Lederman, judge for Florida's Eleventh Circuit Court, shot down the measure. She argued that his testimony “was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence,” and that “Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions. … The court cannot consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.” [7]

State plane usage

Florida's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D) and Attorney General Bill McCollum (R), both leading candidates in each of their respective party's primary race for the state's governor's office, have each been hit up with ethnic complaints from constituents over their ambiguous use of state owned planes. These come in the wake of a June 2009 article published in the Miami Herald/Times detailing how a number of state officials, chief among them McCollum and Sink, "had racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in flights, including questionable use of planes by family members and use of the planes to commute to work from their homes in other parts of the state." It was revealed that even though Sink's flights charged more to the Florida taxpayers then McCollum's ($414,000 compared to $280,000), the State AG used the state plane far more "for one-way trips that resulted in an empty plane flying to or from Tallahassee to an airport near his suburban Orlando home." [8]

Since the Miami Herald/Tribune article was published, personal use of the state plane has been far less frequent. McCollum was shown to have only used it twice from July to October 2009, a significant decline from the twenty-five times he used it during that same period of time the year before. This resulted in savings of $53,000 for Florida taxpayers.

Political issues

Healthcare reform

See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

In the wake of the historic passage of President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation on Christmas Eve in 2009, McCollum joined fourteen other state attorneys general in questioning not only the constitutionality of a specific controversial provision within the Senate version of the bill, but also exploring potential legal challenges to the measure as well. The stipulation in question was the back room deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to recruit him as the 60th vote needed to pass the measure, an arrangement "dubbed the "Nebraska Compromise" or the "Cornhusker Kickback" by Republican critics." The agreement gives Nebraska exemption from its share of the Medicaid expansion, "a carve out that is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years." [9] [10]

In a letter written to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in late-January 2010, McCollum argued that the "health care individual mandate provisions as currently drafted violate constitutional principles and lack constitutional authority for Congress to enact." [11] He warned that the constitutionality of the law was questionable considering that Congress had never before compelled citizens of this country, under threat of economic force, to purchase unwanted products or services simply as a condition of existence.

HealthCare
Health-care.jpg

The morning after the United States House of Representatives narrowly passed the Senate reconciliation bill on health care reform, McCollum announced that he would be joining with South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster in challenging the "unconstitutional" health care legislation on the grounds that the measure "clearly violates the U.S. Constitution and infringes on each state's sovereignty." [12] [13]

Initially, Governor Charlie Crist was quite supportive of McCollum's legal challenge against the federal health care law, chastising Democrats for refusing "to pass meaningful, bipartisan health care legislation with real solutions, and instead passed a bill that includes an extensive government overreach and intrusion into our citizens’ personal freedoms." [14] However, after it became apparent he would not win the Republican nomination in the race for the United States Senate and he switched his party affiliation to that of an independent, Crist essentially went back on this statement when, during an interview, he stated that if he had been in the Senate, he would have voted in favor of the health care reform legislation. [15]

Liberal political activists calling themselves "Not in Our Name, Not on Our Dime" convened on Tallahassee to deliver what they claim was a "60-foot petition signed by more than 7,300 Floridians opposed to the use of taxpayer dollars to be used in the lawsuit that Attorney General Bill McCollum is leading to try to stop the new federal health care reform legislation." [16] At around the same time, Quinnipiac University released data from a survey showing a majority of state residents interviewed, nearly fifty-four percent, opposed McCollum's legal action against the federal health care reform measure. [17]

On Friday, October 15th, 2010, a Federal Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida located in Pensacola ruled that the legal challenge of the federal health care reform measure filed by the twenty-plus state attorneys general, including McCollum, could move forward. [18]

Two weeks after clinching the statewide position in the general election, Pam Bondi, a former state prosecutor, brought McCollum aboard as a chair of her transitional team. [19] The next day, she and McCollum sent a letter to thirteen other states including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma, each of which were Republican pick-ups in the midterm election, requesting they join the twenty states that had already jointly filed suit against the federal government. [20]

While Federal Judge Clyde Roger Vinson expressed skepticism over the states' argument "that the law forces states into a costly expansion of their Medicaid insurance programs for the poor," he was quite sympathetic to that claim that the mandate forcing all American citizens to purchase health insurance violates the Constitution. [21] Vinson remarked that "the individual mandate [would be] “a great leap” on the notion of economic activity that falls within the Commerce Clause’s parameters" should the Supreme Court adopt that as a constitutional basis for the law. [22] [23]

Illegal immigration

Nearly two weeks after the United States Justice Department filed suit against the state of Arizona over its anti-illegal immigration law, Senate Bill 1070 - The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070), contending that it "interferes with federal immigration responsibilities," McCollum joined eight other Republican state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the measure. [24] [25] The Florida Attorney General, who initially opposed the legislation "before it was revised to try to eliminate racial profiling," remarked that "the real issue here is the states have the right to enforce the laws, federal or state, and there's no right for the federal government to try and pre-empt that." [26]

Other roles

  • Chair, Seminole County Republican Executive Committee (1976-1980)
  • President/Chairman, Healthy Florida Foundation (2002-present)
  • Member/Board of Governors, State University System (2005-2006)
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, American Legion
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Security Council
  • Member, Florida Bar Association
  • Member, Florida Blue Key
  • Member/Board of Directors, James Madison Institute
  • Member, Orange County Bar Association
  • Member, Reserve Officers Association
  • Member, Florida Domestic Security Advisory Panel

Campaign contributions

2006

2006 Race for Attorney General - Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $4,180,288
Total Raised by Primary Opponent N/A
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $2,098,361
Top 5 Contributors Florida Republican Party $911,401 (21.80% of Total)
Public Fund $897,104 (21.46%)
Bill McCollum $9,540 (0.23%)
Manatee County Republican Executive Committee $5,000 (0.12%)
Bankers Insurance Group $4,000 (0.10%)
Individuals v. Institutions $1,425,240 (34.1%)
$883,479 (21.1%)
In v. Outside State $4,027,958 (97.2%)
$114,407 (2.8%)

Elections

2006

  • 2006 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
  • Bill McCollum ran unopposed in this contest
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election [27]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Bill McCollum 52.7%
     Democratic Party Walter Campbell 47.2%
     Write-In 0.1%
Total Votes 4,645,967

2010

See also: Florida gubernatorial election, 2010
2010 Race for Governor - Republican Primary [28]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Rick Scott 46.3%
     Republican Party Bill McCollum 43.5%
     Republican Party Mike McAllister 10.1%
Total Votes 1,294,438

Personal

McCollum currently resides in Longwood, Florida with his wife, Ingrid Seebohm. The couple has had three sons together - Andrew, Douglas, and Justin. He is also a practicing Episcopalian.

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Palm Beach Post "Republican McCollum announces campaign for governor" 18 May, 2009
  2. Miami Herald "Bill McCollum concedes GOP governor's race but doesn't endorse Rick Scott" 25 Aug. 2010
  3. Orlando Sentinel "New poll: Crist is cruising; McCollum not so much" 5 June, 2009
  4. Rasmussen Reports "Florida Governor: McCollum 48%, Sink 35%" 23 Feb. 2010
  5. Quinnipiac University Polling Institute "Scott Tops Mccollum In Florida GOP Gov Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Dem Senate Primary Race Too Close To Call" 10 June, 2010
  6. Hot Air "Scott takes 13-point lead over McCollum in FL GOP gubernatorial primary poll" 10 June, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Orlando Weekly "Florida's Case Against Gay Adoption" 18 Dec. 2008
  8. Miami Herald "State planes used less in '09" 17 Nov. 2009
  9. Politico "GOP AGs may sue over health bill" 24 Dec. 2009
  10. Creative Loafing "McCollum joins other AG’s in protesting Ben Nelson & Nebraska’s health care deal" 31 Dec. 2009
  11. Legal Newsline "McCollum: Health care bill is unconstitutional" 20 Jan. 2010
  12. ABC Action News "McCollum to file lawsuit against health care bill" 22 March, 2010
  13. Hillsborough County Elections 2010 Examiner "Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum says health care bill is unconstitutional , will sue" 22 March, 2010
  14. Hillsborough County Elections 2010 Examiner "Charlie Crist backs Bill McCollum's health care lawsuit, releases statement (video)" 23 March, 2010
  15. TPM "In One Afternoon, Charlie Crist Flip-Flop-Flips On Health Care Reform" 27 Aug. 2010
  16. Creative Loafing "Activists to Bill McCollum: Shut down your health care lawsuit" 20 April, 2010
  17. Quinnipiac University "McCollum Leads Tight Florida Governor's Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Obama Approval Up As Voters Back Offshore Drilling" 19 April, 2010
  18. Central Florida News 13 "Bill McCollum’s health care overhaul lawsuit can proceed, judge rules" 15 Oct. 2010
  19. The Palm Beach Post "AG-elect Bondi taps bipartisan AG primary losers for transition team" 17 Nov. 2010
  20. Sunshine State News "20 States Up for Health-Care Challenge, but Bill McCollum, Pam Bondi Look to Get More" 19 Nov. 2010
  21. Wall Street Journal "Judge Leery of Health Mandate" 17 Dec. 2010
  22. St. Petersburg Times "McCollum's lawsuit against Obamacare raises legitimate questions" 16 Dec. 2010
  23. Hot Air "Judge in 20-state ObamaCare case expresses skepticism over mandate" 17 Dec. 2010
  24. FOX News "Justice Department Files Suit Against Arizona Immigration Law" 6 July, 2010
  25. Orlando Sentinel "McCollum joins in legal fight over Arizona immigration law" 14 July, 2010
  26. Miami Herald "McCollum files brief supporting Ariz. immigration" 14 July, 2010
  27. Florida Department of State - 2006 General Election Results
  28. Florida Department of State - 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Primary Election Results


Political offices
Preceded by
Charlie Crist
Florida Attorney General
2006–2010
Succeeded by
Pam Bondi (R)
Preceded by
Bill Young
Florida House of Representatives - District 8
1993–2001
Succeeded by
Ric Keller
Preceded by
Richard Kelly
Florida House of Representatives - District 5
1981–1993
Succeeded by
Karen Thurman