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Sansom Indicted

April 17th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

A Leon County Grand Jury today indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom on charges he misused his official position to benefit a developer who contributed a million dollars to the Republican Party, Sansom’s campaign, and a leadership fund. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, Sansom steered six million dollars to the Northwest Florida State College to build an aircraft hanger 15 miles from the college campus.

Ray Sansom’s troubles began the day he became House Speaker…and on the same day accepted an unadvertised six figure job with his hometown college after steering 30 million dollars to the school.

The Grand Jury investigation focused on six million dollars earmarked for classrooms at the college. The indictment says Sansom and College president Bob Richburg falsified the appropriations act by concealing that the classroom space was really an airport hanger designed to benefit Developer Jay Odom. The grand jury found Odom was a frequent GOP contributor.

“Representative Sansom solely, by himself inserted 6 million dollars into the PECO funding, and it was to be built by a design put forward by Jay Odom, his friend,” state attorney Willie Meggs said.

Sansom wasted no time turning himself in on the felony charge.

The rules of the House are murky. A member who has been indicted on a felony, can ask the speaker to be suspended without pay and only in the case of a conviction can the speaker suspend.

Governor Charlie Crist was sympathetic.

“Obviously that’s distressing to hear,” Crist said. “Our system of criminal justice has a presumption of innocence in it. We ought to all be respectful of that.”

The Grand Jury also asked lawmakers to change the practice of allowing top lawmakers to spend taxpayer money at will.

Richburg, the college president, was also indicted for lying to the grand jury about the airport hanger.

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