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FDLE probes Public Service Commission

The state's top law enforcement agency is investigating the Public Service Commission on grounds that commissioners and staff may have had improper relationships with the utilities they regulate.

   Two PSC commissioners and its executive director said Tuesday that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation based on a complaint, and is preparing to conduct interviews of all five commissioners and some of their staff.

   Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs is assisting in the investigation, sources said.

   "I've been advised by our executive director that FDLE will be conducting interviews," said Commissioner Nathan Skop. He would not comment or speculate on the nature of the investigation.

    Commissioner Nancy Argenziano said she was told by PSC Executive Director Mary Andrews Bane that "FDLE was coming to conduct interviews and it was supposed to occur [Tuesday]."

   Argenzino said the interviews were delayed when two staff members, William Garner and Roberta Bass, sought to hire attorneys before the interviews. Garner and Bass could not be reached for comment.

   "It was my understanding that FDLE would be conducting interviews of everybody," she said.

Commissioners Lisa Edgar, Katrina McMurrian and Matthew Carter could not be reached for comment.

   The FDLE probe comes as the PSC, which regulates utilities and their rates, is conducting hearings on a request by Florida Power & Light to raise its base rates 30 percent beginning next year in what would be the largest such increase in 20 years.

    While the complaint is not a public record, one source believes the investigation is a broad probe into the PSC's relationships with utilities. Another source familiar with the investigation indicated it was connected to PSC lobbyist Ryder Rudd.

   On Aug. 24, the first day of the FPL rate hearing, commissioners postponed deliberations and ordered an internal investigation into whether Rudd, the staff's chief lobbyist, had violated PSC ethics rules when he attended a Kentucky Derby Party at the Palm Beach Gardens home of an FPL executive, Ed Tancer.

Rudd denied wrongdoing, but Skop said the meeting was inappropriate and has demanded Rudd's ouster. Rudd was removed from all FPL business, pending the outcome of an internal inquiry.

   PSC rules forbid staffers and commissioners from discussing certain types of commission business with those who appear before the regulatory panel. Under state law, a commissioner who engages in such discussions -- called "ex parte communication'' -- and who fails to report them could face a $5,000 fine and even removal from office. State law says the ethics commission should investigate such cases.

   FPL said through a spokesperson that the utility was unaware of any investigation.

   "We defer to the Commission regarding its employees and their conduct. Under no circumstances does Florida Power & Light attempt to inappropriately influence anyone," FPL said in a written statement.

FDLE said the investigation was prompted by a complaint.

    "At this time it doesn't appear to rise to the level of a criminal issue. We're still seeking information to make a final determination on the next steps to take," Heather Smith, FDLE spokeswoman.

    Asked if the investigation was routine, Smith said the agency always takes a thorough look at "anything and everything'' associated with a complaint.

Bane, executive director of the PSC, said that she was notified of the investigation by the PSC's inspector general.

   "They needed some office space to conduct some interviews," Bane said. "I know absolutely nothing about it."

    An FPL critic, Sen. Mike Fasano, said he had heard of the inquiry, and it troubled him. "Anytime FDLE is investigating a state agency, it concerns me," Fasano said. "A lot of people  are hiring lawyers. That's making the lawyers of Tallahassee happy."

Comments

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Queen Elizabeth

"Bill C" That's as much your name as is Queen Elizabeth is mine.

You are a anonymous blogger. ANONYMOUS. Anyone can put any name they want here.

And it seems that your comments fall into the category of TOTAL GARBAGE. You must be worried about something.

king george

"queen elizabeth" your the one who must be worried. is your boss nancy gonna go down and take you with her? no one at the fpsc operates above board - not even the commissioners who seem like they do.

David Letterman

Hey King George, bring on the evidence of your anonymous blogging. You have none. Period.

That shows me the anonymous bloggers with the empty unverified, unproven, no evidence nervous jibber jabber blogging is simply a effort to try and hide the real verified complaints. You know, the current ethics complaints (Edgar and her aide who hired the attorney), and the proven utility outings lunches (Edgars aide), dinners and Kentucky Derby parties, as well as the so-called utility conventions meetings.

BTW, Im not a staffer at the PSC and I dont make empty unsubstantiated useless blogs.
Let the investigations begin!

Provide evidence or, just consider your worried attempt to divert attention from those who appear to be the real ethically challenged at the PSC, a piece of trash not worth reading.

Go away

oh "david." of course you're not a psc staffer. you're some lobbyist hack who is the one diverting attention from the fact that ALL the commissioners have broken the rules - that includes your heroes nancy and scott!

Me

"Go away" Nope, its not a lobbyist trying to divert the truth. You stole that from DL. Who pretty much already showed who is trying to divert attention away from the real issues at hand. Like the Ethics complaint (Edgar) that also involves her Aide Roberta who text msged her right about a conversation she had, in the middle of the PSC hearing,with a FPL top employee. Also the Same Roberta having luncheons with FPL employees because they are "friends" during time when rate cases for that company are scheduled. And lets not forget, Ryder Rudd, the guy whom Edgar brought over from DEP where she used to work (he is one of many she brought to the PSC) who made the very bad decision to go to the home of a FPL big wig, to join in on a "Kentucky Derby party" Those are the issues that ratepayers are fuming over and have a right to be. You can try to divert, but when it does not pan out, or you cant produce evidence, it then becomes apparent of what you are doing. I can see why you want to divert attention, but its not working.

TP

Governor Crist made a mistake. He re-appointed Edgar instead of selecting Luis Rojas. He re-appointed her at a time when there was a possible ethics violations that was brought forward and has since been submitted to the Ethics Commission.
The Governor promised change at the PSC that most people have to trust in.
There are currently two commission seats up for re-appointment or for totally new comissioners. I hope Governor Crist does more then just say he is opposed to the rate hikes. He has to make the changes to this stale and utility friendly commission. If not, these commissioners will continue to give the utilities what they want, and that is usually less then what they ask for but what they wanted all along, and he will ave to answer to the voters when his election to the US Senate comes along.

Randy Cline

Need a new agency charged with ensuring that consumers are looked out for first,act quickly to protect consumers from practices that abuse,deceive,or take advantage of the consumers they claim to be helping,and end $200-$250.00 deposits,including interest,fees,and any other charges on consumer credit transactions and other kinds of credit,including fees associated with debit accounts

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