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John Thrasher explains subpoena in GOP conference call

Florida GOP leader John Thrasher engaged in damage control Thursday when he hosted a conference call with top Republican Party officials to explain why he didn't promptly inform them of a federal subpoena seeking party financial records.

A number of the executive board members said they were miffed that they first learned about the month-old subpoena in Thursday's editions of The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times.

But, Thrasher said, the subpoena wasn't that big of a deal and the party didn't appear to be the target of the probe.

Instead, he suggested, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office are interested in former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who was indicted in state court for his handling of the state budget.

``The subpoena came from the United States attorney in Fort Walton Beach -- I'll leave it at that,'' Thrasher said, alluding to the fact that the prosecutor's district includes Sansom's hometown of Destin.

``We understood where the emphasis of the subpoena was going,'' said Thrasher, a St. Augustine senator. ``We didn't think the subpoena rose to the level of importance considering everything else that has been requested from this same United States attorney.''

Sansom faces trial on grand theft charges stemming from $6 million he inserted into the 2007 state budget for an emergency operations building at Destin Airport that a developer and political contributor to Sansom wanted to use as an aircraft hangar.

The Sansom case isn't the only criminal probe targeting a former Republican with close ties to former party leaders.

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