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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

E-mail calls state Rep. Ray Sansom 'king pin' of airport deal

Kingpin An e-mail retrieved from ex-college president Bob Richburg's BlackBerry describes Rep. Ray Sansom as the "kingpin" in a plan for a taxpayer-funded building at Destin Aiport.

"Jay is positive and motivated," Richburg wrote to Sansom on July 11, 2007, several months after Sansom put $6 million into the state budget for the facility. "He and I both agree that you are the king pin in this whole operation and that the three of us need to meet and work the plan."

The e-mail, which was just turned over to investigators and includes an oblique reference to Sen. Ken Pruitt, indicates Sansom's reluctance to build Jay Odom's fixed-based operation, a fancy name for a private airport facility. And a subsequent e-mail asserts that position more forcefully but says that Odom could lease part of the Northwest Florida State College building that Sansom funded.

Odom in fact built a terminal building for his Destin Jet, but documents and interviews suggest he was going to use the hangar-like college space to store aircraft. As recently as December 2008, a college architect was writing that, "We have it confirmed by the user of the Staging area that multiple aircraft will be stored, therefore we are required to add floor trench drains, slope the floor, and add a gas intercept in the line by code.” (see that e-mail here)

The BlackBerry messages were requested from an investigator for the Florida Commission on Ethics and then turned over to the State Atttorney's Office.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:50pm]


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