Former Rep. Robert L.F. Sikes, a 38-year member of Congress who dominated Florida Panhandle politics for nearly 40 years, died Wednesday at 88.
Sikes had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
A Democrat, he was elected to Congress in 1940 and retired in 1978 after being reprimanded for ethics violations.
Among other things, the former newspaper publisher brought to his district jobs and revenue from 14 military bases he helped push through the Defense Department.
He was nicknamed “He coon,” a sort of boss raccoon in Panhandle folklore who looks out for his own.
But critics said he also took care of himself.
The House reprimanded him in 1976 after he was accused of using his influence to benefit his real estate holdings and a defense company in which he owned stock, something he had failed to disclose.
Sikes maintained that he was innocent.
“The press had fun because they love to see blood flow from a conservative, and my blood was flowing,” he said.