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Crist takes personal appeal to Senate for PSC picks

Gov. Charlie Crist sat in the front row, next to David Klement, the governor's appointee to the Public Service Commission and waited 30 minutes as Senate committee debated two bills before it began the meeting to confirm Klement and Crist's second appointee, Benjamin "Steve" Stevens, seated a row behind them.

"Both of these men are men of great integrity,'' Crist told the committee when he was finally given a chance to speak. "That's why I chose them from a pool that was given to me from you frankly,'' he said. "I know these men are dedicated to just that."

Sen. Chris Smith asked why he didn't reappoint Matt Carter, the former chairman.

"I felt like we needed some new blood on the commission,'' Crist answered.

Smith: Did you feel that Matt Carter was qualified?

Crist: "I felt that we needed some new blood on the commission." It was an answer he gave two mores times as Smith pressed.

Committee Chairman Alex Diaz de la Portilla interrupted Smith: "This is not a press conference...If you have questions for the govenror, you can ask him privately."

Smith to Crist: "I appreciate your commitment to diversity throughout the state." Crist sat down for another 30 minutes and, when he left, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp took his place in the front row.

Before the vote, Sen. Mike Bennett took a point of personal privilege to lobby the committee on behalf of Klement, a former chairmand of the Bradenton Herald editorial board: "David Klement is always fair. He's also the only editor who actually called me before he wrote articles...If you're going to vote for a PSC commissioner, and you want a fair, unbiased individual as a point of personal privilege. I would hope you appoint David Klement."