Sansom is defiant in farewell letter to House

TALLAHASSEE — Former House Speaker Ray Sansom, whose free fall from power ended with his resignation Sunday, vigorously defended himself in a letter to his former colleagues Wednesday and cast himself a victim of partisan politics.

"I lost all faith and confidence in the likelihood that I would receive a fair and just disposition of this matter in front of the House Select Committee," the Destin Republican said in an eight-page letter.

The letter came three days after Sansom quit the House rather than face a panel of his peers. He still faces criminal charges based on his budget dealings with Northwest Florida State College.

Sansom criticized Rep. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican who chaired the House committee that investigated Sansom, for allowing a citizen complaint to move forward, even though the woman lacked personal knowledge of the details.

Galvano also "showed very little concern" with Sansom's ability to get a fair criminal trial by denying Sansom's requests for delays, he wrote. Sansom asked for and was granted several delays.

Galvano defended the process as fair, and the House spent more than $100,000 on a lawyer who conducted an independent review and found probable cause that Sansom's dealings with a Panhandle college broke the rules.

"I know that we went out of our way to make sure we provided a fair and thorough process," Galvano said in an interview. "He's entitled to his interpretation, that's all I can say."

Sansom faulted Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, another member of the panel, for making "statements to the press which demonstrated an inability to remain impartial."

But Sansom did not try to remove another panel member, Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, who received a campaign contribution (hand-delivered by Sansom) from a developer wrapped up in the controversy.

Among other things, Sansom is accused of disguising a $6 million airport hangar for developer Jay Odom as an educational building.

Sansom summarized complainant Susan Smith's deposition in which she says she worked with Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff in preparing her complaint.

The former lawmaker also mentioned the fact that many other legislators also work for colleges and universities.

"I am troubled by the fact that I have been singled out for such harsh treatment when my only failing was the fulfillment of my duty to better serve my district. … I am proud of my efforts on behalf of the college."

Read the letter

Read Ray Sansom's farewell letter to the Florida House at links.tampabay.com.

Sansom is defiant in farewell letter to House 02/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:39pm]

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