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'Minutes' of Florida House speaker's secretive meeting appear

Ten months after Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom helped arrange a secretive meeting of his hometown college's board of trustees, the ''minutes'' of the meeting suddenly emerged this week.

Northwest Florida State College President Bob Richburg sent a document to state Sen. Don Gaetz after a newspaper in Sansom's hometown published an editorial urging Gaetz to demand an investigation into whether the meeting violated the state's Sunshine Law.

'I am enclosing the `Record of Legislative Update Summary, March 24, 2008' that will go before the Board of Trustees on Jan. 20, 2009 for approval,'' Richburg wrote in an e-mail to Gaetz, R-Niceville.

''I find the sudden emergence of these minutes to be curious, at best,'' Gaetz said in an interview Thursday.

The meeting was first reported by the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau as part of an investigation into Sansom's taking an unadvertised job at the college last November that paid $110,000 a year. Sansom has since resigned from that job.

Sansom and Richburg were working on legislation that would allow a handful of schools, including Northwest Florida, to offer an expanded array of bachelor degrees.

A meeting of the trustees must be open to the public, which requires advertising the time and place so the public can attend.

The college did provide public notice, with an ad that was published one week before the meeting in a newspaper 150 miles from where the meeting would take place.

When the Herald/Times requested documents about the meeting from the college in December, all that was provided was proof that a notice of the meeting had been taken out in The Northwest Florida Daily News.

Tuesday, The Daily News published an editorial that suggested Gaetz ask Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum whether the meeting violated the Sunshine Law. On Wednesday, Richburg sent Gaetz an unsolicited e-mail containing the meeting notice and a three paragraph ''record'' of the meeting.

It shows that it was held at Florida State University and was attended by college trustees, Richburg, Sansom and one of Sansom's top legislative staffers, Mike Hansen.

''The content of the legislative briefing included a review of college funding, the status of the state college bill and a review of the college's five-year construction plans,'' the document reads. ``No action was taken by the trustees.''

Richburg did not return a message left on his cellphone Thursday night. Sansom also did not return a message, and has refused to be interviewed by reporters in Tallahassee.

Sansom remains under intense pressure to explain his dealings with Richburg and the college -- pressure that remains despite his recent announcement that he would resign from the job effective Jan. 31.

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