Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Federal investigators circling Ray Sansom

Federal authorities are closing in on their investigation of former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom, requiring the House to provide by Thursday records related to his travel and that of several aides.

A former Sansom staffer has also been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Pensacola on June 21.

The FBI and IRS have long been looking at aspects of Sansom's political life, which crashed just as he was taking the reins as speaker in 2008. Sansom had taken an unadvertised $110,000 job at a Panhandle college, exposing questions about millions of dollars he inserted into the budget for the school. He faced state charges for a $6 million appropriation that a developer friend wanted to use for his private jet business. The case was dropped midtrial in March, with the prosecutor saying he could not proceed due to a judge limiting key witness testimony. Sansom insisted he did nothing wrong.

As part of the investigation, records showed that Sansom used a Republican Party of Florida-issued American Express card for more than $170,000 in expenses, including taking his family to Europe as part of a trade mission with Gov. Charlie Crist. A state Republican Party audit concluded that not all of Sansom's charges were for party business, raising possible tax questions.

3 justices in the crosshairs

Using a decision that kept a vote on health care reform off the 2010 ballot as a rallying point, a conservative group is launching a campaign to unseat three Florida Supreme Court justices.

Jesse Phillips, a founder of the group Citizen2Citizen, has started the "Restore Justice 2012" campaign.

For now, the group has its sights on Supreme Court Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and Fred Lewis. The three are up for a merit retention vote in 2012. They were part of a 5-2 majority of justices that ruled a proposed constitutional amendment crafted by state lawmakers to target federal health care reform was too vague and struck it from the 2010 ballot.

Phillips describes the ruling as inappropriate "judicial activism."

"When a super-majority of our elected representatives vote to ask citizens a ballot question, the citizens should be asked that question," Phillips said. "They shouldn't only be asked questions the court likes."

Mayanne Downs, president of the Florida Bar Association, said the judges should be evaluated on much more than one decision, and questioned the use of "judicial activism."

"As so often is the case in political matters, it has become a buzzword. It has become a phrase that describes a ruling they don't like," she said. "Judges are supposed to follow the law. They're not supposed to make up law, and they don't. They follow the law. Where the law is unclear, they clarify it. That has to be done."

Legislators this spring approved the constitutional amendment for the 2012 ballot, this time without the language the court found problematic. If 60 percent of voters approve the measure, it will prohibit laws similar to the "individual mandate," a key component of federal health care reform that requires people to buy insurance.

Putnam endorses Haridopolos

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos had already won the endorsement of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and was so pleased with House Speaker Dean Cannon's endorsement that he announced it twice. Now Haridopolos is touting support of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. "Commissioner Putnam told me that he was endorsing me for U.S. Senate because 'Mike is a true leader who has proven he will take on the tough issues that face our nation and is the conservative who can win this race.' "

Times staff writers Janet Zink and Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Federal investigators circling Ray Sansom 06/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 9:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  2. Rays Kevin Cash: "We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence"

    Blogs

    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to turn it around,'' Cash said. "You can only delay it for so long and …

  3. Should kindergartners be encouraged to conform to peer pressure? One Pasco school suggests so

    Blogs

    A Pasco County elementary school came under fire on social media Thursday for its new behavior expectation charts that suggest conforming to peer pressure is positive, and that running in school is anarchy.

    Deer Park Elementary School has posted this chart of student expectations. Some parents have complained about its terms, such as the suggestion that conforming to peer pressure is positive.
  4. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  5. Lightning wing J.T. Brown on why he donated to remove Confederate statue

    Blogs

    Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.

    J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.