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Sansom Takes A Break

The Pensacola News Journal has the story, but blows the headline: Sansom Quits

TALLAHASSEE – Speaker Ray Sansom, a Destin Republican, has stepped down amid ethics and legal charges that he abused his position.

“Effective immediately, I have decided to recuse myself from the exercise of my duties as Speaker of the House of Representatives,” Sansom wrote in a memo to House members. “Ongoing legal proceedings have temporarily created an inability for me to carry out my responsibilities as Speaker. Under the House rules, during this temporary inability, Speaker pro tempore Larry Cretul will exercise all the duties, powers and prerogatives of Speaker.”

He is taking a temporary break from his duties as Speaker. He is still the Speaker, and is still a member of the Florida house. He should quit to preserve any dignity he has left, but he won’t.

Given the ethics rules of the Florida legislature, I have no doubt that he hasn’t actually committed a violation. The rules are so lax I’m not sure if you could violate them if you tried.


1 John B. { 01.31.09 at 4:14 pm }

Everything you say about the legislature’s lax rules is correct. And the ethics commission, shamefully, is little more than a dodge for dodgy politicians.

As for the claimed “temporary” character of Sansom’s resignation/ recusal/ “stepping down” — or whatever neologism one might invent, I think it is probably irrelevant. Samson’s implied claim that he will return as speaker serves only two purposes. First, it allows him to save face right now and, he probably hopes, if any grand jurors are watching it moderates the implication of guilt. Second, it might act as something of a caution for any Republicans eager to replace him, themselves, but who are too frightened of losing and then suffering his wrath.

It’s all irrelevant because whether he’s indicted or not, I do not see him regaining his previous powers or reputation among his own colleagues. Some Republican legislators already are opposing him. Others will in time join their ranks. Too much time will have passed by the time the grand jury and ethics commission finish their work. Samson is bound by then to have lost a great deal of his influence.

So the way I see it, even if Samson actually should somehow avoid an indictment and attempt to regain the speakership, he’ll have to climb over a too-tall pile of power-hungry Republican colleagues. And if he doesn’t avoid indictment, then he’s finished anyway.

2 Bryan { 01.31.09 at 8:01 pm }

In some ways it is easier to get rid of the governor than the speaker, the way the Republicans have written the rules. The two guys he has been associated with should have been indicted multiple times, but they are deeply wired into the local “good ol’ boy” network, so if the Feds don’t do something, nothing will happen. I would love to see all of them hauled of to serve long terms, but they control a lot of political money, so the chances are really slim.

It’s really too bad, because Ray used to be a straight-shooter. Power corrupts.