Republicans Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan try to free Britney Spears
Pop star Britney Spears and her efforts to be free of her father's control of a court-ordered conservatorship of her finances have landed an unlikely supporter in Congress: conservative Congressman Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, who is wondering if Spears is being "overprotected" and whether authority over her finances should be returned to her. Spears would like her father to be replaced as permanent conservator by an adviser who is a fiduciary, specifically, by Jodi Montgomery, who has been installed on a temporary basis.
In a toxic legal battle, Spears' case to wrest control of her finances from her father has sparked the viral hashtag #freebritney and was the subject of a recent documentary. Now, Gaetz and House Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, are calling for a hearing on the conservatorship process.
"The most striking example is perhaps the case of multi-platinum performing artist Britney Spears," Gaetz and Jordan wrote in a letter this week to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York. "Since 2008, Ms. Spears has been under a court-ordered conservatorship. The facts and circumstances giving rise to this arrangement remain in dispute but involve questionable motives and legal tactics by her father and now-conservator, Jamie Spears."
The Judiciary Committee has yet to commit to or decline the hearing request but Nadler isn't exactly saying, "gimme more" on the subject. "The Chairman has received the request," a committee spokesperson told CBS News. "This Congress, the Committee will work to advance critical legislation to protect and strengthen civil rights and civil liberties for all Americans."
Spears landed in conservatorship in 2008 after a period when she struggled with mental health issues after her marriage ended in 2007. Her father argues the court put conservatorship in place because people were taking advantage of his daughter while her life and health were at risk.
"From the beginning, the court has closely monitored Britney's situation, including through annual accountings and in-depth reviews and recommendations from a highly experienced and dedicated court investigator who annually meets at length with Britney and all involved in her conservatorship," Vivian Thoreen, an attorney for Mr. Spears told CBS News. "Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it; she has always had this right but in 13 years has never exercised it. Britney knows that her Daddy loves her, and that he will be there for her whenever and if she needs him, just as he always has been — conservatorship or not."
Gaetz and Jordan want Congress to probe the process of conservatorships over concerns about their use to deprive Americans of personal freedoms by others through the courts, according to their letter. They cite a 2010 GAO report that identified examples of guardians improperly obtaining millions of dollars as well as "hundreds of allegations of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010."
Britney Spears has not responded to a request for comment. Her next court date is set for March 17.
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