The House committee probing ousted Speaker Ray Sansom's conduct voted Friday to honor the Destin lawmaker's request and delayed its work for one final time to give Sansom time to hire a new lawyer. But the panel, headed by Rep,. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, voted to move forward and act on pending matters at its next meeting on Feb. 2, whether or not Sansom finds a lawyer by then.
"I just want to make sure that we have a fair hearing," Galvano told reporters. "We need to get these issues addressed. That's why we have a firm date on Feb. 2. But we need to move forward." Asked if it's common for someone to need weeks to find legal representation, Galvano said: "That's such an open-ended question. It depends on the case ... I think we're being fair by giving (him) the additional time to find counsel."
Sansom did not attend Friday's brief hearing in the Capitol. In a Jan. 19 letter, he had asked for a delay, saying: "The resolution of this complaont is important to me personally and to the entire Florida House. As soon as I have retained an attorney, I will notify Rep. Galvano and his staff."
If the committee agrees to try Sansom on possible violations of House rules, it will take place the week of Feb. 22. The five-member Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct includes Republican Reps. Faye Culp of Tampa and Rich Glorioso of Plant City, and Democratic Reps. Joe Gibbons of Hallandale Beach and Ari Porth of Coral Springs.The committee hopes to finish its work in time to recommend action in the Sansom case to the full House by the March 2 start of the session.
-- Steve Bousquet