Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rep. Ray Sansom's House disciplinary hearing on track to start Monday

TALLAHASSEE — Unable to reach a deal to avert a spectacle that could embarrass some of the state's top politicians, the Florida House plans to begin its disciplinary hearing of Rep. Ray Sansom next week.

A five-member panel agreed Thursday to begin the tribunal at 10 a.m. Monday and has left the week open for testimony, if needed.

A settlement could be reached over the weekend, but both sides say they are ready to proceed.

"Those type of negotiations probably will continue … but there's a lot of work that has to be done for these parties to be ready for trial," said Rep. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican who chairs the panel.

Sansom, R-Destin, is accused of violating House ethics rules in his dealings with Northwest Florida State College, where he took a six-figure job after funneling the school $35 million in taxpayer money. He has denied wrongdoing, but an independent investigator hired by the House found probable cause that he broke rules.

The Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct met briefly Thursday afternoon to set the schedule for the hearing. Galvano said he was withdrawing subpoenas for two men whom Sansom allegedly conspired with to get money for a $6 million airplane hangar in Destin.

Developer Jay Odom and former college president Bob Richburg have said they will invoke their constitutional right not to testify because they are the subjects of a criminal case into similar issues. Sansom is also expected to take the Fifth Amendment, though he will attend the hearing.

Still, there could be plenty of drama.

Sansom has scheduled as witnesses several current and former lawmakers, including former House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, and future Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melboune.

Both men, and others, say they will testify if needed. But the mere fact of being put under oath in a messy ethics investigation could prove uncomfortable, particularly for Rubio, who is surging in his U.S. Senate race against Gov. Charlie Crist.

Among the potential witnesses for House prosecutor Melanie Hines is former Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey, who worked closely with Sansom in putting together the state budgets in 2007 and 2008. Carlton has told investigators that had she known the $6 million could have benefited Odom's corporate jet business, she would not have signed off on it. Sansom has said the money was solely for an emergency management and training center at the airport.

Though a disciplinary hearing is like a court trial, the threshold for proving misconduct is not as rigid. The committee will make a recommendation on any disciplinary action, which could include censure or removal from office. It could also make recommendations on how to improve the budget process.

"There's a lot of politics involved," Galvano said. "At the end of the day, it's 120 members who are making a decision in this case."

Rep. Ray Sansom's House disciplinary hearing on track to start Monday 02/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 9:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police take boy out of home where sister was shot

    News

    TAMPA — Lizette Hernandez watched a Tampa police officer remove her 19-month-old son from her in-laws' house, the same home where earlier this month her 4-year-old daughter was shot to death.

    Nelly Zoller snuggles with her grandfather's dog, Venus. Her father says she went looking for candy in her grandmother's purse and found a gun instead. [Facebook]
  2. Rick Scott announces support for new legislation, $50 million to fight opioid crisis

    State Roundup

    Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he is calling for a series of new proposals to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, including $50 million in new funding.

    Gov. Rick Scott announced on Sept. 26, 2017, that he is calling for a series of new proposals to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, including $50 million in new funding. [Associated Press file photo]
  3. Republicans to unveil broad tax cuts Wednesday, put off tough decisions

    Business

    President Donald Trump and top Republicans will promise a package of sweeping tax cuts for companies and individuals, the Washington Post reports, but the GOP leaders will stop short of labeling many of the tax breaks they hope to strip away, putting off controversial decisions that threaten to sink the party's tax …

    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  4. Double your fun: Twitter's testing a 280-character limit for tweets

    News

    Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey last year made a definitive announcement about the company's famous 140-character count amid rumors that the firm would substantially relax the limit. "It's staying," Dorsey told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. "It's a good constraint for us."

    In this 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. [AP photo]
  5. Dead woman with sun tattoo found near elementary school

    News

    TAMPA --- She had a tattoo of a sun on her abdomen, with the words "The World is Mine."