In Tampa, if people want to find a prostitute, they usually make their way over to Nebraska Avenue. In Orlando, one could head to certain sections of Orange Blossom Trail. In Brevard Country, one doesn’t have to look any further than a local park.
State Representative Bob Allen, R-Merritt Island, was arrested on July 11 for a second-degree misdemeanor. According to Florida Today, “Police staked out a Titusville park, looking for burglars … when they noticed Allen loitering in the area of the men’s room and entering the building. An officer who entered the room said Allen offered $20 to perform oral sex on the officer.”
I have always believed that the government – local, state and national – is not perfect because it is made up of people. If people are not perfect, then an organization or legislative body composed of people cannot be perfect. The story of Allen’s actions shocked me, but only for a few moments. I quickly remembered that prostitutes are people too – therefore, the government is bound to have a few on staff.Allen has chosen to plead not guilty to the charges against him of solicitation of prostitution. In an article from the St. Petersburg Times, Allen said, “The worst thing in the world is what’s happened to our family … But I’m holding my head high, because I am not guilty.” Allen has a wife and a teenage daughter who is preparing for college.
I understand that “not guilty” is a legitimate defense in our legal system. What I fail to understand is what would motivate the police of Brevard County to lie. The plea of not guilty gives the prosecution the burden of proving guilt. Yet doesn’t the plea “not guilty” insinuate that Allen did not solicit himself and therefore the police are lying? Is Allen calling the police a bunch of liars?
One can hope that this is not the case, as there is always a possibility that the police got something wrong. The police force is also made up of imperfect people, who are bound to make mistakes. According to the Times, “Steve Webster of Citizens for Florida Waterways called Allen ‘a good guy with an outstanding sense of humor, and I can’t help but hope that’s what got him in this situation.'”
This could be the case. Allen could have been joking around with someone he thought was a fellow pedestrian, taking a stroll in the park. If so, he was unfortunately wrong.
Regardless of whether this story is true, this prostitution joke isn’t very funny. Also, the way Allen is handling the situation is very unbecoming of a human being, much less a servant of the public.
He is dragging his wife and daughter into the situation to gain publicity. Not only has he allegedly prostituted himself, he is dealing the same fate to his wife and daughter – shoving them in front of the camera and proclaiming that this is an unfortunate situation not just for him, but for his whole family.
“My family is the one that’s taken the biggest hit in this,” Allen said in Florida Today.
Well, Rep. Allen, if you did not force your family in front of the cameras, maybe they wouldn’t have suffered such a blow from your mistake. Then again, I’m not a public relations major, so maybe exploiting family members to improve one’s image has merits I am unaware of.
If guilty, Allen is accusing the Brevard police of being a bunch of liars, while he himself is lying to the entire state of Florida. Even if innocent, he is wrongly using his family to capitalize on the publicity of the situation. Also, even as a joke, a state representative shouldn’t go around offering sex acts for money. A state representative should be aware that such behavior reflects poorly on both himself and his constituents, and conduct himself accordingly.
Surely that isn’t too much for voters to ask.
Amy Mariani is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.