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Details emerge over Argenziano's land deal with Pennington

Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, who has criticized state regulators for being too close to the utilities they regulate, owns and works out of a second home in North Carolina purchased with the help of a legislative lobbyist while she was a state senator.

Argenziano said she paid $10,000 for part ownership of seven riverfront lots in 2003 and solicited the help of former Florida Medical Association lobbyist Rockie Pennington to buy the rest. Pennington wrote a check for $150,000 for the remainder of the property and sent it to her without seeing the land. Read more here.

Here's how Pennington recalls being approached by Argenziano about the riverfront lots and dilapidated house she found in North Carolina:

"I was in a bar in Alaska pretty drunk either May or June and I was on a climbing expedition,'' he recalled Thursday. The next morning he and his party were to catch a float plane to taking them skiing and then to climb Mount McKinley.

"She says she found this great deal -- A couple wanted to divorce. He was living upstairs. She was living downstains and they just wanted out -- But she had to move on it now.''

He delayed the flight, write a check on the spot, had it sent overnight mail to Argenziano and closed on the deal.

``I'm not sure I would trust Nancy with a lot of things, but I do trust her sense of a deal,'' he said. ``She is probably one of the most sophisticated investors I've met. It's a steal.''

Argenziano, a former real-estate agent and state senator from Dunnellon, and Pennington, a Florida Medical Association lobbyist in 2003 and Argenziano's campaign consultant for years, disclosed their financial dealings in public reports required for legislators and lobbyists. Both said there is nothing illegal nor unethical about their financial relationship.

``If you find that I'm lying, you slam me, but there's nothing there,'' Argenziano said. ``I have reported everything, and I have nothing to hide.

Between 1996 and 2004, Argenziano paid Pennington nearly $132,000 for campaign consulting and direct-mail work. Pennington continues as a political consultant and now lobbies for the Florida Municpal Electric Association, which the PSC does not regulate.

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