New Florida House Speaker: How Conservative Is He?

How conservative is Larry Cretul, the new speaker of the Florida House? So conservative that he once coerced an abortion provider into committing a crime.

It all started back in 1997, when Cretul was a commissioner in Marion County. An abortion doctor, Dr. James Scott Pendergraft, was threatening to open a clinic in Marion County. A real estate consultant named Michael Spielvogel, who was working on the project, suggested that Pendergraft might consider canceling the plans if the price was right.

So Cretul, who's staunchly anti-abortion, gave Pendergraft a call and suggested that the county would buy the property for $1 million -- five times its value.

But the phone call was a trap -- and Pendergraft took the bait.

Cretul had told the FBI he had planned on calling Pendergraft, so the agency recorded the phone call. When Pendergraft agreed to the deal, the FBI busted him for extortion.

In court, Pendergraft's atttorney, Jacob Rose, accused Cretul of coercing his client into cutting the deal.

Pendergraft and Spielvogel were convicted in 2000. But seven months into their prison sentences, a court overturned the verdict for lack of evidence. Pendergraft remains notorious among pro-lifers, as evidenced by this website.

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