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Probable cause found that Sansom damaged 'faith and integrity' of the Florida House

26

June

Attorney Steve Kahn has found probable cause that Rep. Ray Sansom's dealings with a Panhandle college have damaged the "faith and integrity" of the Florida House.

That includes a $6 million airport building that Kahn agrees was designed to benefit Sansom's friend Jay Odom. And it includes a "leadership institute" that Sansom inserted $7.5 million into the budget for in 2008. As a college employee, Sansom would have had oversight over the program.

The conclusions, technically as a "statement of alleged violation" under House Rule 16.2, set up a formal legislative review of Sansom that could result in sanctions, including dismissal.

House Speaker Larry Cretul announced a panel that will investigate: Reps. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, Chair; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; and Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs.

"This is obviously something that's very painful for the House," said Rep. J.C. Planas, R-Miami. "Ray Sansom is a friend and a colleague. We have to just look at the facts. It stinks, but we have to look at what was done."

Writes Kahn: I find probable cause to believe that the conduct of Representative Ray Sansom, described in the Findings of Fact in Specification I and adopted here in full by reference, regarding his employment as Vice-President of Planning and Development at Northwest Florida State College beginning December 2008, particularly the method he used to create, fund, and plan for construction of a facility to house the Leadership Institute at that college, over which Institute he had and would have had continuing supervisory control and oversight, could reasonably have caused the complainant to lose faith and confidence in the integrity of the Florida House of Representatives more particularly as she alleged it did in her sworn complaint dated Jan. 6, 2009.

SPECIFICATION II: I find probable cause to believe that the conduct of Representative Ray Sansom, described in the Findings of Fact in Specification II and adopted here in full by reference, regarding his knowledge of, participation in, execution of, and his motives behind planning and funding the construction of the Northwest Florida State College's Joint Use Facility to be located at the Destin airport, and the benefit said facility was planned to bring directly to Jay Alan Odom of Destin and to his company, Destin Jet, LLC, and/or to the college, and indirectly to Representative Sansom himself, could reasonably have caused the complainant to lose faith and confidence in the integrity of the Florida House of Representatives, more particularly as she alleged it did in her sworn complaint dated January 6, 2009.

SPECIFICATION III: I find probable cause to believe that the conduct of Representative Ray Sansom described in the Findings of Fact in Specification III and adopted here in full by reference, regarding his knowledge of, participation in, and motives behind the planning for and holding of the "private" legislative briefing meeting of the Board of Trustees of Okaloosa-Walton College in Tallahassee on March 24, 2008, could reasonably have caused the complainant to lose faith and confidence in the integrity of the Florida House of Representatives, more particularly as she alleged it did in her sworn complaint dated January 6, 2009.

Kahn, a former Senate general counsel, was appointed by House Speaker Larry Cretul to investigate an ethics complaint filed against Sansom by was filed by Susan Smith of Odessa. Smith said Sansom violated House rules by taking a $110,0000 job at Northwest Florida State College on the same day he was sworn in as speaker.

His report is here.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 4:49pm]

    

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