The Florida House has spent more than $234,000 on legal fees investigating Rep. Ray Sansom.
The tally includes $132,679 that has been billed so far by Berger Singerman, the law firm of Melanie Hines, a former statewide prosecutor making preparations for a hearing into Sansom's dealings with a Panhandle college.
The House moved to hire Hines in October following a report by lawyer Steve Kahn, who found probable cause that Sansom violated House rules. Kahn spent weeks investigating the allegations and interviewing key witnesses before producing a 75-page report. At $300 per hour, his bill was $101,690.
Sansom, R-Destin, is accused of damaging public faith in the House through is dealings with Northwest Florida State College, a small Panhandle school that received $35 million in extra or accelerated taxpayer money while Sansom controlled the budget.
The Destin Republican took a $110,000 part-time job at the college on the same day in November 2008 that he was sworn in as House speaker.
A five-member panel of his peers is to hear the case beginning Feb. 22, unless the trial is pre-empted by a settlement. Sansom has maintained he did nothing improper and has asked for several delays in the hearing while his criminal case proceeds.