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Sansom hearing breaks the 'R.H.I.P.' code

At the first House hearing in the Ray Sansom case Tuesday, special investigator Steve Kahn laid out the case against the Destin Republican, and speculated that Sansom's defense might consist of "R.H.I.P.," or "rank has its privileges."

Kahn's report found probable cause that in three cases, Sansom's actions could reasonably have caused the public "to lose faith and confidence in the integrity" of the House. They involved a job for Sansom at Northwest Florida State College, the construction of an airport hangar with tax dollars, and a college trustees meeting that was held at a private site in Tallahassee, 150 miles from the college.

"Now whether Rep. Sansom will rely on plain old R.H.I.P. or the theory that that's how it's always been done around here for as long as anyone remembers ... I don't know at this point," Kahn told the Select Committee on Standards of Conduct. 

Rep. Faye Culp, R-Tampa, didn't know what R.H.I.P. stood for, but another panel member, Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, was happy to oblige. A retired career Air Force officer, Glorioso looked down the dais at Culp and said, "Rank has its privileges. Military term."

Kahn also painted a devastating picture of Bob Richburg, the college's president, who like Sansom and real estate developer Jay Odom faces criminal charges in the case. Kahn emphasized to the committee that the paper trail of emails between RIchburg and Sansom shows the two men were discussing a job for Sansom at least three months sooner than Richburg acknowledged.

"Discussion of the details of employment began in earnest in the month after the 2008 regular session ended, and not in August or September as I was told by President Richburg," Kahn said.   

-- Steve Bousquet