Indictments pile up against Sansom; House colleagues react
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05/29/09 Seán Kinane
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State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota)


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

This week, ousted Speaker of the Florida House Ray Sansom had more charges added to his indictment. A grand jury charged Sansom and his developer friend Jay Odom with perjury.

The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald reported on emails between Odom, Sansom, and the president of Northwest Florida State College about using state funding to construct an aircraft hanger. On the day he became House Speaker, Sansom took a position with the College, whose president, Bob Richburg, was also indicted for felony misconduct. In one email, Richburg wrote to Odom, “we are committed to the idea of leasing unused space back to you.”

Yesterday, WMNF spoke with several of Ray Sansom’s colleagues in the House of Representatives about the new charges. Rep. Rich Glorioso, a Republican from Plant City, says he prays that Sansom will be found not guilty.

“It’s hard to comment on that because I don’t have all the facts. … I think Ray [Sansom] will be found innocent.”

Democratic House member Michael Scionti represents parts of Tampa: “It’s an unfortunate situation for all parties involved. I think that our criminal justice system will work through this issue.”

Sarasota-area Legislator, Keith Fitzgerald, a Democrat, says that he doesn’t want to form an opinion about the case because he may be asked to judge Sansom’s actions in the state House of Representatives.

“I’m a big believer in the presumption of innocence. … It’s possible under House rules that you may impanel a group of members to see if there were ethical violations.”

Representative Bill Heller, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, says that when he first joined the Legislature, Sansom was one of the first Representatives to show him the ropes.

“I really do care because I’m a people person and I really care about his family.”

Sansom was first indicted in April for felony misconduct because of six million dollars in state appropriations for the building that is alleged to be available as an airplane hanger for Odom.

The grand jury also criticized the Legislature’s budgeting process, which Representative Heller said did not become more transparent during the most recent session.

“No, I don’t think it happened. … There’s a lot of room for improvement in our process.”

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