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IRS was looking at ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom even before AmEx charges surfaced

Irs The IRS was asking questions about Rep. Ray Sansom even before details emerged about his use of a Republican Party-issued American Express card, joining the FBI in some level of investigation into the Destin Republican and his associates, the Times/Herald has learned.

The credit card charges, including plane tickets for his family to Europe and copious cups of Starbucks, were revealed last week as part of the criminal case against Sansom.

That led to an anonymous IRS complaint alleging Sansom violated law by not declaring the income. But the agency was already looking at Sansom, according to a person close to the inquiry. An IRS spokesman would neither confirm nor deny an investigation, as is customary.

In a previous report, we noted that during the time Sansom was spending party money, Jay Odom contributed about $279,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

Turns out, he gave much more than that.

One of Odom's corporations, Anchors Street, gave $100,000 on March 6, 2007 and his Crystal Beach Development gave $10,000 on June 16, 2008, according to Division of Elections records.

Sansom appears to have gotten the card in November 2006, when he took over the House election effort. Prior to that, Anchors Street gave $100,000 in four sums from February 2006 to June 2006. And another $92,500 came in from Crystal Beach Development, Jaco L.C. and 99 Eglin LTD.

State Attorney Willie Meggs, who convened the grand jury that indicted Sansom on official misconduct and perjury charges for getting $6 million in taxpayer money for an airport building Odom would allegedly use, has not said why he subpoenaed the American Express statements. But it's likely he would try to paint a correlation between Sansom's spending and legislative favors.

Sansom's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 29. Several motions to dismiss will be heard next Wednesday in Tallahassee.

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Jose Medina

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars are poured into stadiums, hockey rinks, baseball parks, and other arenas in order to attract and retain professional sports teams in big cities. Often the money is spent by the cities after a team "threatens" to leave the city.

When that happens, of course, the local news media act as the willing accomplices of the billionaires who own the teams. As a practical matter, the news media have no choice. If the news coverage on Channel 37, for example, exposes the local team's economic uselessness to the community, the chances are near zero that the sports anchor from Channel BLA BLA will ever get access to the locker room after a big game.

When city and state governments build facilities for sports organizations which are owned by billionaires, and raise taxes as a result, it is clearly an abuse of power.

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