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Trustees defend Sansom-Richburg meeting

Northwest Florida State College trustees today sent a letter to Attorney General Bill McCollum defending a meeting set up by Ray Sansom and college president Bob Richburg.

State Attorney Willie Meggs is investigating whether the March 24 meeting at the members-only University Club at Florida State University violated the Sunshine Law. The inquiry is part of a broader look at the relationship between the college and Sansom, who recently quit a $110,000 job he took there on the day he was sworn in as speaker.

Sansom denies any wrongdoing and says the millions in construction money he secured for the school over the past two years was part of a transparent budget process.

In the letter, trustee chairman Wesley Wilkerson writes that the college noticed the meeting in the Northwest Florida Daily News "as a matter of course, with the same care and adherence to the Sunshine Law that we follow for all trustee activities."

But no minutes were taken at the meeting and the trustees on Jan. 20 approved a "record" of what took place -- 10 months after the gathering. The meeting was billed as a "legislative briefing" but Sansom was the only lawmaker invited. Open government advocates also point to case law suggesting that holding a meeting 150 miles from the Panhandle campus does not meet the law.

"Our college adheres to public notice and compliance with all sections of the Sunshine Law," Wilkerson writes to McCollum. (He CC'd Meggs). "Please be assured that our Board of Trustees will do all we can to stay in full compliance with the Sunshine Law."