January 11, 2009

Sansom watch, January 11 edition

With Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom's resignation Monday from his job at Northwest Florida State College, I wondered whether the story would disappear. Not by a longshot. Editorial boards of the St. Petersburg Times and Bradenton Herald as well as former friend and fellow Republican Joe Scarborough continued to savage Sansom. Investigative reporter Alex Leary discovered that Sansom met with key players in early December in what Destin's mayor called "CYA time."  The Leon County prosecutor referred the case to a grand jury for an initial inquiry. And in its coverage of the grand jury referral, the Times reported that another Florida citizen filed an ethics complaint.

Sansom's colleagues in the Florida House of Representatives who were relieved on Monday may well find themselves squirming by the start of the general session. Sansom's defensive speech on Monday and a television interview this week will not help, especially when the spotlight shifts to other legislators who have public jobs and who either acquired them in a backroom fashion after their election or received suspiciously high raises.

In March, if Sansom continues to refuse interviews with most reporters, those reporters will turn to other legislators and ask them questions both about the legislative session and the speaker's position. And other reporters may do what the Times has done and requested copies of constituent correspondence about Sansom from House leaders. Usually the House and Senate are coequal in the annual tug-of-war we call the regular session of the legislature. But with a tacit Speaker, the lower chamber may find itself in a much weaker position vis-a-vis the Senate.

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Tags: Florida legislature, higher education, Ray Sansom, scandal
Posted in Higher education on January 11, 2009 11:50 AM |