TALLAHASSEE — Public Service Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano resigned from the board Tuesday and endorsed Democrat Alex Sink, saying she had to speak out to prevent the "noxious mix" of a Republican-led Legislature with GOP candidate Rick Scott as governor.
Argenziano, a Republican and former state senator from Crystal River, launched into a tirade against the lawmakers whom she accused of currying favor with the "$43 billion regulated industry."
"I'm terrified if Rick Scott becomes governor of this state because there is no balance," said Argenziano, an outspoken critic of the Legislature's influence on the state's utility board.
Appointed to the PSC by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007, she was scheduled to lose her job in January when the legislatively controlled PSC nominating council refused to consider her for another term.
Argenziano said she had not spoken with Sink or Scott, but Scott's business plan calls for less regulation of electric companies, which means lower rates for commercial businesses and "higher rates for the residential customer."
Argenziano was one of five commissioners who voted against the two largest utility rate increases in state history earlier this year. Four of the five have been rejected by legislators for reappointment, and Argenziano pins the blame on the power of the utility companies.
She commended former Commissioners Benjamin "Steve" Stevens and David Klement for working relentlessly to get up to speed on the rate cases when they were appointed last fall. "And they got jerked around by little pip-squeaks who think they own the Florida Legislature," she said.
During the last year, Argenziano was targeted by Florida Power & Light and its lobbyists, which called her out for writing text messages to her aide about other commissioners during PSC meetings. An ethics complaint against Argenziano was repealed when the woman listed as the person filing it said her name had been forged.
Argenziano accused the PSC of corruption and for operating with a "bought and sold nature." She called the Legislature "clowns, cowboys and crooks," and said that its move to the right under incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos would be a "noxious mix of government" if "Rick, the Fifth Amendment, Scott" were elected. "There is not sufficient resilience in Florida to recover from the pit into which this case of self-indulgent politicians would consign us," she said.
Argenziano said she will forgo her $11,000-a-month salary for the next three months in exchange for having the opportunity to speak out. Commissioners are prohibited from endorsing candidates.
"If I don't say something now, then I'm going to feel like I didn't do my part," she said.
Sink campaign spokesman, Kyra Jennings, welcomed Argenziano's endorsement.
"Alex Sink is proud to receive the endorsement of a proven consumer champion with a record of standing up for Floridians," Jennings said.
Scott's campaign did not respond for a call for comment.
Argenziano said she has not spoken to Sink and has "not been promised one thing."