Conservative group plays hardball in Orlando

BY Advocate.com Editors

August 30 2002 12:00 AM ET

The Tampa-based Florida Family Association has sent a letter to Orlando city councilman Phil Diamond threatening to publicly accuse Diamond of breaking the law unless the councilman abstains from an upcoming council vote on a gay rights proposal, The Orlando Sentinel reports. According to the FFA, Diamond, who has expressed support for the proposal--which would add sexual orientation to the city's antidiscrimination ordinance--has a conflict of interest because he works for a law firm that could be hired by people who feel they have been discriminated against in violation of the proposed ordinance change. And, as the FFA points out, state law prohibits elected officials from voting on legislation from which they would profit.

"I couldn't believe it," Diamond said after receiving the letter. "At the very least it's inappropriate, and at worst it's an attempt at political blackmail." After receiving the letter, Diamond asked the city attorney's office to determine if he indeed had a conflict of interest with regard to the proposal and was told that he did not. "Any gain or loss to you or the firm resulting from the passage of the Sexual Orientation Ordinance would be far too indirect, speculative, and remote to be said to inure to your special gain," chief assistant city attorney Jean Roush-Burnett wrote to Diamond.

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