It seems that our lovely Speaker of the House, Ray “Criminole” Sansom, decided he needed to defend himself and so wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the Northwest Florida Daily News today. Unfortunately, he neglected to mention a few salient facts in his defense of himself. Not to worry though, the St. Pete Times (which originally broke this whole story) has busted him again.
“It’s true that earlier this year I supported the college’s successful efforts to obtain accelerated funding for construction projects. The money for those projects came from a fund that, by law, can be used only for school construction funding. In other words, there was no choice to be made between the college’s projects and, for example, K-12 classrooms, law enforcement or health care for the poor.”
St. Pete Times:
Sansom uses the word “accelerated” but fails to explain that the Department of Education had recommended $1-million for the project and that he increased it to $25.5-million — the single largest award for a college in 2008.
He also fails to note that $7.5-million of the $25.5-million was not included in the DOE recommendations — a fact illustrated in this memo obtained by the Times/Herald.
The $7.5 million is going to build a “leadership institute” at the college.
Sansom does not say that he inserted $750,000 in start-up money for the leadership institute, a maneuver that irritated then-Speaker Marco Rubio because he was not aware it had been done until too late. Sansom was the budget chairman for the 2007 and 2008 sessions — at which time the small college in Niceville got about $35-million in new or accelerated funding.
What’s more, Sansom does not address the $6-million he inserted into the budget in 2007 for a project at Destin Airport that is remarkably similar to a $6-million airport hangar once sought by his friend Jay Odom.
That, too, was not on the DOE list for public education capital outlay funding, state officials have confirmed for the Times/Herald.
As Scott Maxwell said in his column in the Orlando Sentinel earlier this week:
You quit the wrong job, Mr. Speaker.
Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jay Odom, Northwest Florida State College, Ray Sansom, Scott Maxwell, Speaker of the House