State Rep. Ray Sansom's lavish use of his Republican Party-issued credit card has triggered a complaint to the IRS.
A complaint was filled out anonymously and a copy was provided to the Times/Herald on Monday, alleging Sansom violated tax law by using party funds for personal items such as plane tickets to Europe for his family and not declaring it as income.
The complaint also alleges political corruption and suggests the Internal Revenue Service investigate other GOP officials who had American Express cards.
An IRS spokesman said the agency does not confirm or deny investigations but said anonymous complaints can be filed using form 3949 A.
"Generally speaking, getting something for nothing could have a tax effect," spokesman Mike Dobzinski said.
The Times/Herald previously reported that the FBI was looking at some aspect of the case and the IRS is generally brought on board in such matters.
Sansom, R-Destin, shows other income on his 2008 tax return, but it is unclear what that represents. His brother Randy, an accountant who prepared his return, has not returned calls seeking comment.
The lawmaker charged more than $170,000 on the card in the two years he oversaw the House election efforts. Some of it can seemingly be explained, but there are also charges for items at Cole Haan, Coach, Kenneth Cole and travel for his family.
The sheer scope of spending, including $839 at Starbucks and nearly $9,000 for flowers, has outraged political donors and sent the Republican Party into damage control over the weekend.
Chairman Jim Greer announced he was taking cards away from all officials and, for effect, cut his own card in front of a crowd Saturday in Orlando. He has refused calls, however, to release statements showing spending by other party officials.
Sansom asserted to his local newspaper, the Northwest Florida Daily News, that his spending was in line with other officials who had cards.
Sansom's credit card statements were released as part of the criminal case against him. He is facing felony charges over securing $6 million in taxpayer money for an airport building that a developer and campaign contributor allegedly wanted to use to store airplanes.
Sansom got the money and millions more for Northwest Florida State College, which hired him to a $110,00-a-year job on the same day last November that he was sworn in as House speaker — a position he was forced out of amid criminal and ethical investigations.
A review of campaign finance data shows Sansom did not reimburse the party for any expenses during the time he held the credit card.
During the same time period Sansom was spending freely, developer Jay Odom was making large contributions to the party. Odom, who has been indicted along with Sansom in the alleged airport scheme, gave $100,000 on Dec. 31, 2007, and $178,950.42 on March 5, 2008, according to the Division of Elections.
Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report. Alex Leary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.