By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
As they sipped their drinks, Jason started talking about his relationship with Crist, which he said had been sexual in nature.
"Charlie Crist? Are you kidding?" the source remembers asking.
They asked Jason about the size of Crist's anatomy. Jason "wouldn't go there," said the source. "He said that he remains friendly with Crist and that he was expecting an appointment when Crist becomes governor."
The source said that after the dinner he struggled for a few weeks with what he'd heard. When the Foley scandal hit the news, he called ABC News, which had broken the congressional page story. He said the network had no interest in the story.
Then he contacted me. I learned that Wetherington, a dark-haired and good-looking former page in the state senate, had been Harris's southeast field director and had left the campaign after the primary to work for Bogdanoff.
Wetherington had also appeared in numerous Sun-Sentinel articles. From them, I learned he was an alum of Fort Lauderdale High School, where he was the student body's vice president and the student advisor to the Broward County School Board.
On August 11, 2002, the newspaper published a feature story about Wetherington under the headline: "Leader by example: The school board's student advisor is a take-charge guy with lofty ideals and goals."
In it, Wetherington was very open about his ambition, telling the newspaper, "I'll make it to Washington, whether in the Senate or the White House." His mother said she was certain she would someday be a "First Mom."
The article also mentioned his role as a leader at First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale. The huge 12,000-member church is one of the more anti-gay institutions in the county and has been aligned with the ultra-conservative Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and its rabidly right-wing minister, D. James Kennedy.
Wetherington appeared to be living a seriously twisted double life. On the one hand, he was a young Christian Republican leader and on the other a cruiser of men in AOL chat rooms.
Two weeks ago, I dropped by Wetherington's apartment complex off Sunrise Boulevard near the Intracoastal. As it happened, he was in his car in the parking lot, about to drive away.
I asked him to roll down his window, introduced myself, and told him what I was doing there. Wetherington confirmed he was gay. I told him what I had learned about the dinner party, which he admitted attending. But he denied that he had ever had sex with Crist.
"The only way I would have said that was if I was really drunk," he told me, adding that he didn't "remember anything" about the party.
I told him that the source told me that they had asked him about Crist's anatomy. Wetherington became more adamant about this detail than anything else during the impromptu interview. He asserted several times that he had never spoken about Crist's anatomy.
I assured him that the source had told me the same thing.
He said that he had met Crist on at least three different occasions, including at his church and at Crist's Republican primary debate with Tom Gallagher in West Palm Beach, but the extent of his contact with the Attorney General was "shaking his hand."
Did he already have a job locked up with the administration if Crist wins the election?
"I sent him a resume," he said. "I want to work for him, but I never said that I had a job with the administration."
I told Wetherington that it must be tough navigating his two conflicting worlds.
"It has been a personal struggle," he told me. "But I have my mother and I have the church "
Wetherington went on to say that he had come out to the church and that his activity there had decreased significantly because of it. He said he needed to go but wanted me to call him so we could meet for a standard interview. He never returned my phone calls.
A week later, I received another e-mail from another source who created the Yahoo name of "EveryOne KnowsAboutCC" to contact me. I spoke with the new source and he told an extremely similar story about Wetherington, only he'd heard it at a different party that took place in Broward County this past August.
This source, unlike the first, has known Wetherington for years. Again, the source supplied his identity which is known in some local political circles but asked that I not reveal it publicly.
The source was credible and possessed knowledge that only a confidante of Wetherington's could possibly have. He said he contacted me because he had learned that I had interviewed Wetherington.
"I am very conflicted about talking yet at the same time with the whole Foley thing, you can imagine how I must feel," he said. " Jason is a very nice kid, but as a gay person, we struggle very hard and, to have somebody [Crist] who sucks up to a party that badmouths us and works against us, is very two-faced."
He said Wetherington told him and several other people at a party that he had sex with the politician in a hotel room in the Tampa-Sarasota area while he was working on the Harris campaign. He said Wetherington recounted that he spoke with Crist about a campaign matter and "one thing led to another and they had sex."