Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000, Bob Allen attempted to pay a male undercover police officer twenty dollars to perform oral sex on the officer in a public restroom at a Florida park. The arrest drew national attention for its tawdriness and hypocrisy, and for Allen’s connections to Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Summary of Event

Bob Allen gained national notoriety as one of several socially conservative politicians involved in sex scandals in 2007. Allen was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000. Essentially a professional politician, most of his income came from his government salary, although he also earned $15,000 from his marketing company, the Allen Florida Group. A graduate of Valencia Community College, he lived with his wife and daughter in Merritt Island. [kw]Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer (July 11, 2007) Allen, Bob Allen, Bob [g]United States;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] [c]Prostitution;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] [c]Sex crimes;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] [c]Law and the courts;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] [c]Politics;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] [c]Government;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] [c]Public morals;July 11, 2007: Florida Politician Is Arrested for Soliciting an Undercover Male Police Officer[03800] Kavanaugh, Daniel

Allen spent seven years in the legislature, focusing chiefly on the economic development of the state and gaining a reputation as a confrontational legislator devoid of finesse but with a sense of humor. He did little of lasting impact. Allen joined Enterprise Florida, a part of the legislature, in 2002 to attract businesses to Florida. His district, in a part of Florida known as the space coast, included NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Accordingly, in 2002, Allen received an appointment to serve with the Florida Space Authority (now part of Space Florida), which is responsible for expanding and diversifying the state’s aerospace industry. Allen put $100,000 in the budget for improvements to the Space Walk of Fame at Riverfront Park, but this effort was vetoed by Governor Charlie Crist. In 2007, Allen became chairman of the house energy committee. He also served as a cochairman of U.S. senator John McCain, John McCain’s Florida campaign for U.S. president.

Notably, especially in the light of later developments, Allen sponsored legislation that toughened penalties for lewd or lascivious conduct 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 instrumental in creating a new provision in Florida law that gave some sexual predators life imprisonment for their offenses. Allen had dubbed the bill the sexual predator elimination act. For his record of socially conservative voting, Allen received a 92 percent rating from the Christian Coalition of Florida prior to his 2006 reelection bid. In 2007, about two weeks before his arrest, the Florida Police Benevolent Association named Allen its Legislator of the Year for his support of law enforcement.

On July 11, Allen parked his car and entered the men’s restroom at Titusville’s Space View Park. Titusville police officer Daniel Kavanaugh, who was conducting a plainclothes stakeout of a nearby condominium in the hope of catching a burglar, observed Allen enter the park on foot, walk into the restroom, exit the restroom, and walk toward a park bench. Kavanaugh, concerned about possible countersurveillance, then entered the restroom to adjust his police radio. On his way out of the men’s room, Kavanaugh almost bumped into Allen, who was reentering the room. Allen changed his course of direction and went back toward a park bench. Kavanaugh spoke with two other plainclothes officers sitting on a bench, then entered the restroom and began washing his hands. Allen entered the restroom and went into the first stall. Realizing that there were no paper towels to dry his hands, Kavanaugh walked into the stall marked for the disabled to find paper. As he stood in the stall drying his hands, the police officer observed Allen peering over the door of the stall and attempting to make eye contact. Allen then stepped away, returned to the door of the stall, and again made eye contact. The officer said “hey buddy,” to which Allen replied “hi,” and then stepped back.

According to the officer’s report, about five seconds later, Allen pushed open the door to Kavanaugh’s stall and stepped inside. Kavanaugh was standing against the far wall of the stall and said “what’s up?” Allen said, “hi, this is kind of a public place isn’t it?” Kavanaugh replied, “Do you have somewhere else we can go?” Allen answered, “How about across the bridge? It’s quiet over there.” The two men then had a conversation in which Kavanaugh said, “I’m looking to get some money. Can you hook me up with $20?” Allen agreed to pay $20 to perform oral sex on the officer. Allen stated that he wanted to travel with the officer across the river before performing the act and turning over the money. Before entering Allen’s vehicle, Kavanaugh identified himself as a police officer and arrested Allen. Allen was later released after posting $500 bail.

Allen subsequently explained that he was intimidated by the presence of a “stocky black guy” in the restroom and was worried that other “stocky black guys” in the park might rob him. Although the statement was excluded from his trial, Allen’s statement became fodder for late-night talk-show hosts and political Cartoons cartoonists. The McCain, John McCain campaign forced his resignation.

In the wake of the arrest, Allen held a press conference in which he proclaimed his innocence and warned his constituents to not jump to conclusions. He stated that the incident brought him closer to his wife and teenage daughter, and he described the event as the worst thing that had happened to his family. He also plowed ahead with his campaign for a Brevard County senate seat that was expected to be vacant in 2008. However, Republican leadership in the Florida house immediately stripped Allen of his chairship of the energy committee and began to isolate him.

On November 9, 2007, a jury convicted Allen of soliciting a sex act. He faced up to sixty days in jail and a five-hundred-dollar fine. He became the first sitting house member to be convicted of a crime since 1998, when Lake City Democrat Randy Mackey Mackey, Randy was convicted of tax fraud and resigned three months later. Allen’s fellow Republicans immediately pressured him to resign to spare the legislature from political damage, but Allen proclaimed his innocence and resolved to continue to fight the charge. The house majority leader, Adam Hasner, Hasner, Adam announced plans to force Allen from office. However, house rules mandate the removal of a member only upon a felony conviction. Allen was convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor. To remove him, the house could form a select committee to review the case and make a recommendation to the entire house. Removing him would require a vote of two-thirds of the members at a time when Republicans held seventy-seven seats in the legislature while Democrats held forty-two; one seat remained vacant.

Allen was sentenced on November 15. He received six months probation and a $250 fine. The judge required him to pay $245 in restitution to the Titusville Police Department for the initial investigation, to pay court costs, to attend an awareness class on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and to undergo STD testing. Allen also was banned from returning to Space View Park. On November 16, he resigned from the state legislature, effective February 15, 2008.


The Allen scandal may have had little long-term impact. Sasso, Anthony P. Anthony P. Sasso III, a Cocoa Beach ship inspector and former marine engineer, replaced Allen in a special election. Sasso became the first Democratic legislator to be elected from Brevard County since 1996, defeating Republican rival Sean Campbell despite being heavily outspent. The Democrats did not give Allen credit for Sasso’s victory because voters and campaign workers did not appear to be especially interested in the scandal, regarding it as old news.

However, 2008 was not a good year for Republican candidates across the United States. It is not clear whether Sasso’s election reflected strong support for the candidate, a backlash against the Republican Party for being the party of Allen, or part of a nationwide reaction against the Republicans. Allen, Bob

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Colburn, David R. From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and Its Politics Since 1940. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2007. A good history of state politics in Florida in the modern era.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Williams, Juliet A., and Paul Apostolidis, eds. Public Affairs: Politics in the Age of Sex Scandals. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004. Although the Allen case is not examined in this book, the text does help set the scandal in the context of other sex scandals involving political figures.

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