Britney Spears Case Spurs Bipartisan Bill Against Conservatorship Abuse
Britney Spears’ anti-conservatorship crusade led two U.S. House lawmakers to unveil a new bipartisan bill this week aimed at protecting people in legal guardianships.
Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida and Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina introduced their new Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act at a virtual press conference, repeatedly invoking the pop star’s controversial case.
The proposed bill, dubbed the FREE Act, would offer an “escape hatch out of abusive guardianships” by allowing subjects to have their private guardian, called a conservator in some states, replaced with an independent public guardian without having to prove misconduct or abuse.
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In the case of Spears, she’s asking a Los Angeles judge to remove her dad from his position as conservator of her $60 million estate, a position he’s been reluctant to give up despite public calls from his daughter to resign.
“Under the FREE Act, we would Free Britney along with the countless number of seniors and persons with disabilities being abused and exploited by the broken system,” Crist said in a statement.
“(The) Britney Spears conservatorship is a nightmare. If it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone,” Mace said in a statement.
“Conservatorships undoubtedly protect countless vulnerable Americans from abuse, but the case of Britney Spears reveals a darker side to a system meant to protect people,” Mace said.
“In some cases, conservatorships can rob capable and innocent Americans of their money, careers and even basic human rights, like the right to reproduce in Spears’ case. To see a woman like Britney Spears have her most basic human rights permanently stripped away from her under the guise of ‘protection’ should be illegal.”
The bill also would assign conservatees their own independent case workers, enforce financial disclosures to safeguard against conflicts of interest and require states to provide a real-time database of the number of people under court-ordered guardianships.
Spears, 39, has been under a court-ordered conservatorship since 2008 after she was involuntarily hospitalized for mental health concerns amid a child custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
Her professional care manager, Jodi Montgomery, is the temporary conservator of her person, meaning she’s the fiduciary in charge of the “Toxic” singer’s personal security and medical care.
Dad Jamie Spears controls his daughter’s purse strings, leading to finger-pointing between Jamie Spears and Montgomery over who’s to blame for the complaints Britney Spears voiced during an explosive address to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny last month.
During her jaw-dropping June 23 statement, Britney said that under her conservatorship, she was forced into labor, placed on lithium against her will, denied the right to remove her IUD to try for another baby and confined against her will.
“I just want my life back,” Britney Spears said last month.
“It’s been 13 years and it’s enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money, and it’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end without being tested.”
She scored a victory last week when Judge Penny allowed her to hire new lawyer Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, to replace her court-appointed lawyer Samuel Ingham, who resigned.
Speaking outside a follow-up hearing Monday, Rosengart said Jamie Spears’ time is running out to voluntarily step down.
“My firm and I are moving aggressively and expeditiously to file a petition to remove Jamie Spears unless he resigns first,” Rosengart said.
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