Ray Sansom worked harder to become the state House speaker than he did for his cushy state college job. To win the speakership, the Destin Republican outmaneuvered other contenders more than three years ago and won the support of dozens of his colleagues. His $110,000-a-year job at Northwest Florida State College was not advertised, offered only to him and approved by the college's trustees on the same day last month that Sansom finally became speaker. What a coincidence.
The crime here is not that Sansom steered millions to the college this spring in a very tight budget year and then was handed an administrative job with a six-figure salary. The crime is this is not plainly illegal and that Sansom sees nothing wrong with it. He says it is a citizen Legislature and every lawmaker has another job. But most of their jobs were not gift-wrapped by public colleges grateful for the public money showered upon them.
Sansom's other defenses ring just as hollow. If he is as well qualified for the college job as he contends, he should have insisted on an open application process. If his maneuvering to send millions to the college was as transparent as he insists, why did it take months to become public and why aren't other Republican legislators rushing to his defense?
To regain any credibility as the state faces a budget crisis, Sansom should resign from the college job. He says he plans to keep it and hopes to stay at the college "for the rest of my professional career.'' If that's his top priority, then he should cut short his public career.