Four years after the state Senate rejected two of former Gov. Charlie Crist's appointees to the Public Service Commission because they had no industry experience, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed state Rep. Jimmy Patronis to the same board, even though he has had no industry experience.
The difference: Patronis is a Panama City Republican who announced last year he will step aside as a candidate in 2016 for the state Senate seat held by Senate President Don Gaetz, making room for Gaetz's son, Matt Gaetz, to be the heir apparent. Patronis was also an early support of Scott's against former Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Scott also reappointed, as expected, Tampa lawyer Julie Brown based on a list of six candidates, sent to him by the legislatively-controlled PSC Nominating Council.
Balbis got the job after legislators sided with electric companies in 2010 to oust Crist appointees David Klement and Benjamin “Steve” Stevens who rejected controversial rate increases sought by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, now known as Duke Energy Florida.
On Thursday, Scott also announced the reappointment of Tampa lawyer Julie Brown, 39, from a list of six candidates sent to him by the legislatively-controlled PSC Nominating Council. She has been on the commission since 2011.
Commissioners are paid an annual salary of $131,036 and the appointments are subject to Senate approval.
Patronis is the vice president of Captain Anderson’s Restaurant in Panama City Beach and listed no utility experience on his application for the job. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and was an early and avid supporter of Scott's first campaign for governor in 2010.
Scott held a rally last Friday at Patronis’ Panhandle restaurant with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Patronis is also a member of the panel evaluating the finalists for the FSU presidency.
Brown, 39, of Tampa, has been a PSC member since 2011 and is a University of Florida graduate. The two four-year terms begin Jan. 2, 2015, and end Jan. 1, 2019.
Among the candidates Scott rejected was former state Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola, and Patrick Sheehan, director of the Office of Energy in the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Scott's appointment of Patronis shows how far he has shifted from the outsider in 2010 who said in his Republican primary victory speech that "the deal-makers are crying in their cocktails." The Patronis pick is an obvious reward for an early and loyal Scott supporter. Patronis' wife Katie has donated $500 to Scott's re-election.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Representative Jimmy Patronis and reappointment of Julie Brown to the Florida Public Service Commission.
Patronis, 42, of Panama City, is the vice president of Captain Anderson’s Restaurant. He serves as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing District 6 since 2006. Patronis received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. He succeeds Eduardo Balbis and is appointed for a term beginning January 2, 2015, and ending January 1, 2019.
Governor Scott said, “Representative Patronis has faithfully served Florida families during his years of service in the Florida House of Representatives. I am confident that Jimmy will make an excellent addition to the Public Service Commission as he continues to put Florida families first.”
Brown, 39, of Tampa, has served as a commissioner of the Florida Public Service Commission since 2011. Brown received her bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Florida. She is reappointed for a term beginning January 2, 2015, and ending January 1, 2019.
Governor Scott said, “Julie has done an excellent job during her time on the Public Service Commission, and I am confident that she will continue serving Florida families with honesty and integrity. I look forward to continuing to work with her, and the rest of the PSC, to keep the cost of living low in the Sunshine State.”
The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.