Despite multiple attempts to reach the City Manager of Lauderhill and its mayor, both have refused to acknowledge SFGN’s request for comment over the city’s decision to hire a known anti-LGBT attorney.
In order to target an adult entertainment club in the city, Lauderhill has relied on an infamous attorney with a well known anti-LGBT record to litigate its case.
According to a public records request obtained by SFGN, the city has already paid $81,788 to the Law Office of Scott D. Bergthold since 2016. He’s been hired to go after Vegas Cabaret, located at 5428 N University Drive.
Bergthold once claimed that AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases are the results of “America’s moral decay.”
SFGN reached out to Charles Faranda, City Manager of Lauderhill, via voicemail and email, as well as to Mayor Ken Thurston, directly via email, and twice through his aide Khya Lawrence-Cummings.
Neither have acknowledged SFGN’s requests for comment.
SFGN also reached out to the rest of city’s commission including Vice Mayor Margaret Bates, and commissioners Howard Berger, Richard Campbell and Denise Grant.
Only Bates responded.
“Mr. Parsley: the City of Lauderhill hired a licensed attorney to handle our issue,” Bates wrote.
The short response did not address Bergthold’s anti-gay record.
The City of Atlanta also recently hired Bergthold to go after one of their clubs, Tokyo Valentino Erotique. But after Bergthold’s anti-LGBT record came to light, the City Commission fired him.
“There are a lot of attorneys in the world. And our city governments should not be spending tens of thousands of dollars with firms with notorious anti-LGBT records like this one,” said Stratton Politzer, deputy director of Equality Florida. “We urge Lauderhill to follow lead of Atlanta and others and dump him.”
Project Q, an LGBT publication in Atlanta, was the first outlet in the city to report on Bergthold’s past conduct, revealing his long history of anti-gay activism.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution also picked up the story. They wrote “Bergthold, a 1997 grad of evangelist Pat Robertson’s Regent University School of Law, has worked for years in conjunction with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the de facto legal squad for the religious right.”
According to Project Q, ADF gave more than $213,000 in grants to Bergthold’s law office between 2010 and 2016. The media outlet also reported Bergthold’s many donations supporting measures to ban same-sex marriage in California.
Project Q revealed that Bergthold, whose law practice is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, had supported city ordinances banning transgender people from using bathrooms associated with their gender.
According to Project Q, Bergthold also once claimed that AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases are the results of “America’s moral decay.”
Michael Rajner, a well known LGBT rights activist in Broward, to take a closer look at how they’re engaging with the LGBT community.
“I feel strongly the commission needs to engage in a dialogue to review this matter and also review their own standing with the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index,” Rajner said. “After a brief review of the commission’s ordinances, I was unable to identity one mention of sexual orientation or gender identity in the city’s ordinances.”
Just this month Manatee County on the West coast of Florida hired Bergthold as well.
“Bergthold recently lost an appeal for Atlanta and was let go by the city for his anti-LGBTQ work,” Paul Finer, an attorney who is running as a Republican for an at-large sea told the Herald Tribune. ”… Now Manatee County is about to begin a new crusade with Bergthold against the spas. Will the next Manatee County Bergthold crusade be against the LGBTQ community?”
According to the newspaper Bergthold has also provided legal advice to Sarasota County in its litigation against a strip club.