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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sansom finds RPOF-paid electronics in 'storage'



Gps-unit-lge Ray Sansom, the indicted former speaker of the Florida House whose American Express charges set off the controversy at the Republican Party of Florida, found in "storage" two laptops, DVD players, GPS units, computer accessories and a camera, according to the audit released today.


They were just some of the $10,486 Sansom spent at Best Buy using the party card. His lawyer said that he was asked to use the party card "in order to ensure that such items were not state owned and/or being used for political purposes."

Of the "storage" finds, "He offered to return them to the RPOF," the report states, "but given their age and unknown condition, the RPOF has agreed not to take the items back." (Delmar Johnson gave back a GPS unit and camera but in both cases he returned different, cheaper units than he purchased.)

The audit leaves many questions unanswered, such as when Sansom discovered the items and when he offered to give them back. Also auditors do not say why they flagged scores of expenses "primarily not related to RPOF business."

That includes a $2,112 for an Apple computer purchased in New York City, $320 in Cole Haan luggage, and thousands at Best Buy.

In all, Sansom spent $1,389 on books, newspapers and magazines, including Sports Illustrated and People

"For all of Sansom's charges at Books-A-Million, Barnes & Nobles, Bookland and Borders, he indicated through his counsel that they were for suggested reading for House members, staff and others. Sansom, however, did not provide us with any further information about the charges."

The report also recounts how Sansom took his family with him to London as part of a Republican trip and adds that he brought along Melanie Phister, then an RPOF staffer who helped Sansom with House campaigns.

Phister told auditors that Sansom "insisted that she bring someone with her on the trip because she would have a lot of time alone or with his family. She felt uncomfortable and voiced her opposition to Sansom, however he insisted, so she invited her mother. That charge, as well as those identified below, was put on her RPOF credit card. We take no issue with Ms. Phister and find that she did not want to incur the charge, but we conclude in any event that the charge was primarily not related to RPOF business."

The full audit is here.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:29pm]


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