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Sansom case keeps getting better

Think of the ongoing Ray Sansom affair in Tallahassee as a combination of Hee Haw and our own little Watergate.

Not only is it not going away — it keeps getting bigger and better.

For starters, there's the $6 million that Sansom put into the state budget for a building for Northwest Florida State College.

That's the school, you will recall, that then put Sansom on its payroll for an unadvertised, $110,000-a-year job on the same day he became House speaker. This was after he had shoveled $35 million in the school's direction.

And the $6 million building? Just remember, it was NOT an aircraft hangar for Sansom's developer buddy Jay Odom, even though it pretty much matched the building that Odom wanted.

Of course, to believe that, we also have to ignore the flurry of documents and statements that have now come out showing that everybody knew its true purpose from the get-go.

When the grand jury indicted Sansom, several members of the Legislature said it was just "political."

Yet a few days ago, the House's own special investigator found probable cause that Sansom violated House rules.

The investigator, Steve Kahn, is a veteran insider, a former general counsel for the Senate. If he had whitewashed it, everybody in the Legislature would have praised him.

"It is my view," Kahn wrote, "that a reasonable person would conclude that his employment was designed primarily to take advantage of his position as speaker to the benefit of the college and the salary was direct compensation for Representative Sansom's official acts as a member and speaker on behalf of the college and his president."

To which most citizens of Florida, presuming they are not members of the Legislature, would say: duh!

Here was an astonishing side point in Kahn's report: The state Senate refused to cooperate with his work, even blocking senators and the Senate staff from giving him statements.

Just to be clear: The Legislature refused to cooperate with the Legislature's special investigator.

Oh, by the way, the FBI is poking around the whole business now, too.

Well! Not even the House can ignore this any longer, not with its own special investigator's report.

So the House will form a committee to decide what to recommend. The options range from passing an official declaration of "Poor Ray, Hold Out Your Wrist" to throwing him out of the House.

But even in this part of the process, irony abounds. One of the committee members to judge Sansom, Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, had to ask whether he should be disqualified because he got a campaign contribution from Sansom's friend Odom.

Still, Glorioso said, "I think I can be fair and balanced." It was the rest of his "fair and balanced" explanation that was unintentionally hilarious: He didn't even know the check was from Odom because Ray Sansom had given it to him bundled with so many others.

"He gave me a handful of checks. … Ray was going around to all the candidates offering campaign contributions," Glorioso said.

In what universe do people think it is normal to walk around giving each other "handfuls of checks" as part of the public process?

Ray Sansom is a symptom, not the cause.

Sansom case keeps getting better 06/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 10:54am]

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