Florida Democratic Party blasts Ray Sansom again, but party legislators remain silent.

12/11/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Brevard County newspaper Florida Today is the latest in the state to call for House Speaker Ray Sansom to quit either his controversial new college administrative job, or his House speaker position.

Newspaper editorial boards are blasting Sansom after he steered millions of dollars to his alma matter, Okaloosa Walton Community College, now Northwest Florida State College, during the last session of the Florida legislature, while he told other lawmakers there would be no money for other projects because of the budget crises.

But then he received a job at the college, the same day he became House speaker, earning $25,000 more than the person he replaced, for a job that was never advertised.

Gov. Charlie Crist has had little to say about the Sansom issue – just like nearly every member of the state legislature, Republican or Democrat.

But the Florida Democratic Party has not been shy in blasting Sansom, and now Crist.

Eric Jotkoff is a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. He issued a lengthy memo Thursday accusing Gov. Crist and the state Republican Party of numerous ethical problems.

"Clearly, Charlie Crist is letting the Republicans and their corruption fester under his watch," Jotkoff said.

Jotkoff referred to Boca Raton oil executive Harry Sargeant, a Crist friend and GOP fundraiser who is being sued by his former business partner, Mohammed Anwar Farid Al-Saleh, claiming he was defrauded of at least $15 million and possibly more.

Earlier this year, Congressional investigators concluded Sargeant inflated profits on contracts to provide fuel to the military, costing taxpayers as much as $180 million.

Sargeant remains finance chairman of the Florida Republican Party, and a friend of Crist.

After Jotkoff’s blast was sent around the state, the Florida Republican Party blasted the Democrats, saying Chair Karen Thurman didn’t get the message from party standard bearer Barack Obama about there being a change from the hyper-partisan wars of the past.

The response also blasted the Democrats for spending “an unprecedented amount of cash, staff, and resources this election cycle, but they still couldn’t beat one Republican incumbent legislator this year.”

Despite the media’s condemnation of House Speaker Sansome, nary a legislator, Democratic or Republican, has dared say a word about the controversy swirling around him.

When asked why only he or Thurman are saying anything critical of Sansom, Jotkoff said he couldn’t speak for state Democrats. But he did say the state Democratic party will continue to ask Crist to investigate.

The Sansom matter is upsetting a lot of people. A progressive blog, Progress Florida, reports that 51 percent of people who responded to their survey say he should step down as speaker, while 23 percent say he should leave his university administrative job.

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