January 4, 2009

Sansom watch, January 4 edition

Recent items in the news on Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom and his position at Northwest Florida State College:

  • On January 1, the Miami Herald's editorial board wrote that other legislators' silence was as damaging as Sansom's actions: "When the principal figure in the House is himself accused of wrongdoing and followers in his own party can't seem to bring themselves to confront it, the people of Florida have to wonder about the quality of their leaders."
  • Also on January 1, the St. Pete Times's Donna Winchester profiled David Plyer, who filed the ethics complaint in December against Sansom: "'Whether this fellow is guilty or innocent is not for me to decide,' Plyer said. 'But we need to know the facts before we can go anywhere, and the facts seem to be hard to come by.'"
  • On January 2, the Panama City News Herald editorial board wrote about the Speaker's fatal wounds: "Sansom showed appalling judgment getting so deeply involved in [Northwest Florida State College President Bob] Richburg's plotting, especially after he'd been tapped to become speaker. He has a higher duty than to be some college president's legislative flunky.... Sansom does not have the standing to continue as speaker."
  • January 2, the Tallahassee Democrat mentioned Sansom's office's deletion of e-mails in an editorial on public records: "It's troubling, however, that the Legislature itself, which makes the laws, has exempted itself from an array of Government in the Sunshine provisions that other agencies and levels of government must follow. Just this week, for example, when information regarding e-mails to and from House Speaker Ray Sansom's office were sought, it was revealed that his e-mails are purged every 30 days, rather than archived, ostensibly to free up server space."
  • In the same issue in the Democrat, Ray Bellamy called for Sansom to resign: "The Republican Party's failure to address Sansom's apparent violation of ethical standards and conservative principles is disheartening and downright disgusting. As a registered Republican, I call on the party leadership to act now to restore integrity to the party and respect for the legislative budgetary process."
  • In the St Pete Times January 2, Dan Ruth proclaimed Sansom "a walking Blue Light Special of political opportunism, who has managed to set himself up as more ethically challenged than Snidely Whiplash before he has even gaveled his first session of the lower body to order." In the same issue, the Times editorial board said legislators should be prohibited from benefitting from dubious insider hires: "Florida's universities and community colleges, like all of state government, need to hire the best people. Only open and transparent job searches assure that's happening."
  • On January 3, Northwest Florida Daily News staffer Pat Rice referred to reporting on the Sansom scandal when making the case that journalists are essential government watchdogs.
  • Also yesterday, the Treasure Coast Palm editorial board gave a thumbs down to the e-mail erasures in Sansom's office. 
  • This morning, the Daytona Beach News-Journal's Mark Lane ripped Sansom in a column, Speaker at work: "House Speaker Ray Sansom's doing something I hadn't thought possible -- he's making fellow legislators squirm in quiet ethical embarrassment."
  • The Bradenton Herald's editorial board is the latest to write, [The] Speaker should go: "This avalanche of ethics lapses imperil Sansom's leadership role in the House. He has violated the public trust."
  • The Tampa Tribune editorial board used Sansom as the object lesson in its editorial today, arguing that the state should combine better pay for legislators with a stricter set of ethics rules to prevent conflicts of interest.
  • And about 90 minutes ago, the St Pete Times education blog reported state Senator Charlie Justice's comments about public agencies who hire legislators: "I think the broadest line should be drawn between those of us ... who were working for the university prior to getting elected. If you get elected and you're a chairman of a committee that funnels money and then you get hired, certainly that doesn't look as good."

This issue isn't going away until Sansom leaves one of his jobs.

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Tags: Bob Richburg, Florida legislature, higher education, Ray Sansom, scandal
Posted in Higher education on January 4, 2009 10:33 AM |