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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Crist enters Sansom courtroom, will be allowed to testify



img_0891.jpgUPDATE: Judge Terry Lewis says he'll allow Crist to testify. Former Sen. Lisa Carlton will also testify but hers will be limited to describing the appropriations process and not what she would have done had she had more information. (see below for her answer.)

Former Gov. Charlie Crist just entered the courthouse in Tallahassee, where he'll testify in the Ray Sansom trial. But the jury is not in yet. Crist is being "proffered" because the defense has objected to his testimony.

Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs asked Crist if he would have vetoed the $6 million airport building at the heart of the grand theft charges against Sansom, had Crist known a private developer would have used the building.

"Yes, I would have," Crist said. (video here)

Defense attorney Jimmy Judkins asked Crist where he got his facts about the case and the former governor said the newspaper. He's also questioning the origin of budget documents that Crist reviewed, suggesting he did not have firsthand knowledge of the circumstances.

Judkins said whether Crist would have vetoed something later is speculation and that Crist could have undue weight with the jury. "You've got a very well spoken, formerly the highest placed person in the state of Florida, and these jurors know that."

Sansom attorney Steve Dobson reminded the judge that Crist used the Sansom issue in his U.S. Senate battle with Marco Rubio, with ads suggesting Rubio was aligned with Sansom.

But Meggs said it's no different than someone who bought a house then found out it was infested with termites. After learning of the termites, the person would take action.

Meggs also asked Crist about political contributions and whether a high ranking lawmaker like Sansom used to be would have any control over such funds. Crist said he believed that was the case. The defense again objected.

Former Senate budget chief Lisa Carlton, Sansom's counterpart in the 2007 session that the airport money was inserted in the budget, is also being proffered. She told Meggs that the project would have raised "red flags" had it not been adequately described.

Photo courtesy of Bill Cotterell, Tallahassee Democrat.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:25am]


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