Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, ex-Senate President Ken Pruitt and Senate budget writer Lisa Carlton are potential witnesses in the House investigation of Rep. Ray Sansom, according to new documents that portend a high profile, politically-charged spectacle.
The names, and many more including top House staffers Mike Hansen and Bob Ward, land on a list presented to Sansom's attorney by House prosecutor Melanie Hines. Sansom lawyer Richard Coates offered his own preliminary witness list that includes developer Jay Odom and former Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg.
The inclusion of Rubio in particular will attract attention as he's running for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination against Gov. Charlie Crist*. Rubio was speaker during the two years that Sansom funneled millions to the college. The Miami Republican has said he delegated responsibility to his top budget chief, and there is no evidence Rubio knew a $6 million airport building could have benefited Odom's corporate jet business.
"The exchange of witness lists is a procedural operation to disclose people who may have information and may be called," said Rep. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican heading the five-member House tribunal. "It does not mean that the names on the list are being called before the committee."
The prosecution witness list is here and the defense list is here.
Carlton could be the most illuminating witness. She worked most closely with Sansom to prepare the budgets in 2007 and 2008. Carlton has already testified before a grand jury, which indicted Sansom on official misconduct and perjury charges.
The House panel meets again Dec. 10 and a hearing is scheduled for late January.
*Crist did not veto the project despite it being labeled a turkey by TaxWatch. But Crist also says he did not know of Odom's interest.