Democratic senator discusses Sansom, culture of Tallahassee

02/02/09 Mitch E. Perry
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On Friday, House Speaker Ray Sansom announced he was recusing himself from his authority so he could concentrate on the various investigations ongoing regarding his acceptance of a job at Northwest Florida Juinor College.

But in stepping aside instead of resigning, Sansom cited an obscure House rule allowing him to remain as the speaker but delegate the responsibilities of the position to someone else until he feels he is "fit" to resume.

Dave Aronberg is a Democratic state Senator. He says it appears as if the House Republicans aren’t sure how to move forward – and he questions the legality of Sansom’s move .

For some Democrats and their supporters, Sansom’s move comes much later than it should have. But Aronberg said he’s actually surprised it’s already happened.

The Sansom story regarding the circumstances in getting his job at Northwest Florida Junior College and the decisions he made that help funnel tens of millions of dollars to the school are the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The story was originally reported on by the St. Petersburg Times, and then followed up with stinging editorials across the state, calling for Sansom to step down from either his post as Speaker or his new position at the college.

He left the academic position, but by then, momentum was working against him.

Although many groups – including the Florida Democratic Party - blasted Sansom, individual Democrats, especially in the House, were mostly silent.

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