Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More On Ethics Complaint Against Ray Sansom

Susan Smith filed an ethics complaint against Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom. The complaint charges Sansom with damaging the integrity and conduct befitting of his office.

Sansom’s Violations of House Rules 15.1 and 15.2

Speaker Ray Sansom's relationship with Northwest Florida State College and the official actions he took on behalf of the College before being given a $110,000 part-time job with the school have clearly damaged the integrity of the Florida House and “the honor of the lawmaking body.” Personally, my respect for the Florida House has been greatly diminished by Speaker Sansom’s actions. At least 18 newspapers across Florida, including every major newspaper, have criticized or outright called on Sansom to resign. Based on these facts, Sansom has allegedly violated House Rules 15.1 and 15.2. Included with this complaint is a list of the relevant newspaper editorials and columns.

House Rules:

15.1—Legislative Ethics and Official Conduct Legislative office is a trust to be performed with integrity in the public interest. A member is respectful of the confidence placed in the member by the other members and by the people. By personal example and by admonition to colleagues whose behavior may threaten the honor of the lawmaking body, the member shall watchfully guard the responsibility of office and the responsibilities and duties placed on the member by the House. To this end, each member shall be accountable to the House for violations of this rule or any provision of the House Code of Conduct contained in Rules 15.1–15.7.

15.2—The Integrity of the House
A member shall respect and comply with the law and shall perform at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and independence of the House and of the Legislature. Each member shall perform at all times in a manner that promotes a professional environment in the House, which shall be free from unlawful employment discrimination.

In the complaint, Sansom is charge with using his position of influence peddling and his employment with Northwest State College influencing his legislative decision-making. Sanson is also charged with using his elected power in a corrupt manner.

Sansom’s Violations of House Rules 15.3(a), 15.4 and 15.5

In taking the $110,000 part-time job at Northwest Florida State College, Speaker Ray Sansom not only damaged the honor of the Florida House, but also created the appearance of improper influence by the College over the budget process. As reported by the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau, Sansom delivered more than $34 million to the College in previous years, including over $25 million when Sansom was responsible for writing the budget. Shortly after delivering this money to the school, Sansom was offered this unadvertised job. Additionally, Sansom allegedly funneled more than $6million to build an airplane hangar for his friend and donor Jay Odom. In emails obtained by the Times/Herald between College President Bob Richburg and Sansom, Richburg asked Sansom to thank officials at the college for "taking responsibility" for the airport building. These facts demand that the Florida House investigate Sansom's relationship with the College, which seems to violate House Rules 15.3(a) and 15.4. Adding to the appearance of impropriety, according to the Palm Beach Post, Sansom used official resources in applying for the job, faxing his application from the Speaker's Office in violation of rule 15.5. A copy of that application is included with this complaint. Additionally, below is a list of the relevant newspaper articles that detail the allegedly improper relationship between Sansom and Northwest Florida State College.

House Rules:

15.3—Improper Influence; Solicitation of Campaign Contributions
(a) A member may not accept anything that reasonably may be construed to improperly influence the member's official act, decision, or vote

15.4—Ethics; Conflicting Employment
A member shall: (a) Scrupulously comply with the requirements of all laws related to the ethics of public officers. (b) Not allow personal employment to impair the member's independence of judgment in the exercise of official duties. (c) Not directly or indirectly receive or agree to receive any compensation for any services rendered or to be rendered either by the member or any other person when such activity is in substantial conflict with the duties of a member of the House.

15.5—Use of Official Position
A member may not corruptly use or attempt to use the member's official position in a manner contrary to the trust or authority placed in the member, either by the public or by other members, for the purpose of securing a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for the member or for others.

Smith was interviewed by The Buzz.

"He has embarrassed the Florida Legislature," Smith said an interview. She alleges Sansom violated, among other things, a House ethic rules that states legislative office, "is a trust to be performed with integrity in the public interest."

The complaint will go to the Rules & Calendar Council. Where it will most likely die. The Chair Bill Galvano and Vice Chair Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff are bothe Republicans. Neither want to get on Sanson's bad side.

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