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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Grand jury weighing Sansom inquiry




A grand jury is meeting this morning at the Leon County Courthouse to decide whether to investigate allegations against House Speaker Ray Sansom. About 9:30 a.m., 50 potential jurors were brought into courtroom 3C. It was a diverse group: A woman carrying a Beatles book bag; a man on crutches; a 20-something in camouflage pants; young, old, black and white. A half hour later, a bunch were let go.

"We take all these issues seriously when a citizen complains," State Attorney Willie Meggs said before entering the courtroom. "It's kind of like at the sheriff's office and someone says we've got a problem and a deputy responds. We've got a complaint, and we'll respond seriously. We'll see how it plays out."

He said he could know by noon whether the grand jury wants him to formally investigate.

Meggs is acting on complaints from two citizens who assert that Sansom misused his position by taking an unadvertised $110,000-a-year job at Northwest Florida State College two months ago.

News reports have shown that over the past two years, when he was House budget chairman, the college got about $35-million in extra or accelerated funding. Sansom has said he is only looking out for his district and that some of the money was part of a statewide plan to stimulate the economy.

He says that the process was transparent and that all lawmakers and the governor signed off on the budget.

"I feel confident, very confident, that in the end I will come out of this clean, innocent," Sansom, R-Destin, told reporters last week.


[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:14pm]


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