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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hangar isn't Ray Sansom's only problem

3

August

Winning the support of state Rep. Ray Sansom to use more than $8 million in taxpayer money on a "leadership institute" at his hometown college took only 22 minutes.

The formal proposal arrived in his e-mail box at 10:33 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2007, and after trading e-mails with college president Bob Richburg, Sansom pledged at 10:55 to "get to work on funds." Sansom quietly delivered for his future boss at Northwest Florida State College.

Tuesday, a five-member legislative panel will begin to investigate Sansom's dealings with the small Panhandle college and whether he damaged public "faith and confidence in the integrity of the Florida House of Representatives." Over two years before he became speaker, Sansom directed $35 million in extra or accelerated funding for the school.

Funding for the leadership institute has been largely overshadowed by money Sansom secured for a different college project: $6 million for an airport building that, according to records and interviews, a developer and Sansom friend planned to use for his corporate jet business. (story here. Plus, Amy Mercado, a Democratic challenger to Rep. Dean Cannon issues a news release today calling on the Republican leader to push for Sansom's ouster.)

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 4:55pm]

    

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