Fla. House Democrats Want Answers from Sansom

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --

Minority leader Franklin Sands of Weston said legislators will be working under a pall until the leader of the majority Republicans in the House answers questions about his post at a college in the Panhandle.

Sansom took a $110,000 job with Northwest Florida State College on the same day he became speaker last month. Sansom's office did not immediately respond to Sands' request.

"The sooner the public hears straightforward answers, the sooner we can focus on the people's priorities," Sands said in a statement released by the House Democratic office. "By providing answers to the public, Speaker Sansom can avoid creating an impression that leadership is about using power to seed the state budget with favors for personal friends or political donors."

As head of the House Budget and Policy Council, Sansom put $25.5 million into last year's state budget for the Niceville college where he later took the six-figure job.

"Our caucus members are troubled by news accounts that suggest the normal and open budget procedures may not have been followed in some circumstances in the last two years," Sands said in reference to the school's funding, by far the most received by any of the state's community colleges.

Sansom has yet to respond to media questions on how he managed to get the $25.5 million into the budget.

Lawmakers are expected to be called into a special session next month because of the state's budget woes. The annual session begins in early March.

Gov. Charlie Crist, who is honeymooning in southwest Florida, has stood by the speaker so far.

Sansom, a 46-year-old Republican from Destin, has been under intense scrutiny from almost the moment he took over as speaker last month. He was also criticized after taking newly elected legislators to the swank WaterColor Resort near Seagrove for a three-day retreat when Florida faces a $2.1 billion budget deficit and its highest unemployment in more than 15 years.

Sansom has served in the Legislature since 2002.


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