Group wants RPOF to return Jay Odom's contributions
A liberal advocacy group is calling on the Republican Party of Florida to return "more than $1 million in tainted political contributions" from developer Jay Odom, a key figure in the Ray Sansom grand jury investigation.
But RPOF spokeswoman Katie Gordon said the donations will not be returned because they were "spent in previous election cycles, electing Republicans."
Progress Florida says in an open letter to chairman Jim Greer: "Returning Mr. Odom’s campaign contributions would help restore people’s faith in the integrity of the political process, and make clear that the days of allowing political donors to dictate public policy and abuse taxpayers are over."
The grand jury concluded there was "strong inference of impropriety" surrounding the $1 million Odom contributed and the $6 million Sansom secured for an airport building. Sansom, who said he will be vindicated at trial, has said he got the money for an emergency operations and training center to be built by Northwest Florida State College. He denies knowing about Odom's plans for a taxpayer-funded airplane hangar.
Here is the letter:
April 27, 2009
Dear Chairman Greer,
The trustees of Northwest Florida State College have called an emergency meeting for tomorrow in response to developments surrounding the $6 million of taxpayer funds appropriated for an aircraft hangar at Northwest Florida State College.
Gov. Crist, State Attorney Willie Meggs and others have stated publicly that these funds should be returned to taxpayers. Last week Sen. Don Gaetz indicated that the $6 million had become a “toxic issue” in the legislature, and that lawmakers would take steps seeking return of the funds if the board of trustees doesn’t vote to do so themselves.
We’re writing to find out if you agree with Gov. Crist and others that the aircraft hangar project should be abandoned and the funds returned by the school.
If so, we’d like to know why the money that the Republican Party of Florida received as part of this scandal shouldn’t be given back to contributor Jay Odom, for whom the hangar was allegedly to be built.
Returning Mr. Odom’s campaign contributions would help restore people’s faith in the integrity of the political process, and make clear that the days of allowing political donors to dictate public policy and abuse taxpayers are over.
Progress Florida joins with Gov. Crist, State Attorney Meggs and others in urging the trustees of Northwest Florida State College to return the $6 million so it can be used for more critical needs by the citizens of Florida. In the spirit of good government, we also call on you to return the more than $1 million in tainted political contributions that Jay Odom leveraged through the Republican Party of Florida to help create this debacle.
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director