APRIL 17, 2009
A high-ranking Florida lawmaker recently forced by a corruption scandal to resign as House speaker has been indicted by a grand jury for creating fake budget documents to get a college a multi million-dollar aircraft hanger sought by a political donor.
Republican Ray Sansom, who is still a state representative, altered documents to suggest that an airport building for the public northwest Florida school was a multi-use educational facility when in fact it was an aircraft hanger sought by a wealthy developer and major Republican contributor.
In its indictment, a Leon County grand jury finds Sansom and the college president who collaborated with him guilty of felony misconduct. The investigation was initially launched because, during two years as appropriations chairman, Sansom steered a disproportionate amount of state funds to the junior college.
Late last year he was rewarded with a lucrative $110,000-a-year job at the school (Northwest Florida State College), which caught the attention of the state’s ethics commission since Sansom had steered $35 million to the campus in two years. Sansom subsequently resigned as House speaker but maintains his innocence and refuses to leave public office.
His defense will inevitably be helped by a lack of evidence. Because lawmakers have fewer restrictions on preserving records, Sansom and his staff regularly delete electronic mail about his business dealings every month. This routine file cleansing conveniently includes correspondence regarding the shady college deal.
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