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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sansom: I'm innocent



Rep. Ray Sansom denies all the allegations facing him in a House investigation and wants his peers to delay the hearings until after his criminal trial.

In a letter delivered today to select committee chairman Bill Galvano, Sansom's attorney Richard Coates said the ousted House speaker has not violated legislative rules against misusing a public position.

The response comes a month after investigator Steve Kahn found there was probable cause Sansom damaged "faith and confidence" in the Florida House through his dealings with Northwest Florida State College. The small panhandle school hired Sansom to a six-figure job on the same day last November he was sworn in as speaker.

"Representative Sansom denies all of the probable cause allegations presented in the Report of Special Investigator," Coates wrote. He added that Sansom "looks forward to cooperating," but that most of the documents and witnesses that might be presented are part of the criminal case, tentatively set to go to trial Sept. 29.

In the two years Sansom controlled the House budget, he steered about $35 million in extra or accelerated construction money to the college, including $6 million for a building at Destin Airport that Kahn and a grand jury said was going to be used by developer and major GOP donor Jay Odom.

Kahn went further and found other alleged misdeeds, including a secretive meeting Sansom and college president Bob Richburg set up. (background here)

Galvano said the House panel, which includes three Republicans and two Democrats, will still meet Aug. 4 to discuss the proceedings. But it is likely a delay will be granted.

"In order to really do our business, we have to hear from Rep. Sansom as well as Mr. Richburg," Galvano said. "We'll see how it goes."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:53pm]


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