Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Industry group leader, lawmaker seek inquiry into Argenziano

TALLAHASSEE — Days after Tallahassee's top prosecutor said his investigation into the state's utilities regulator was turning up no "skullduggery," a powerful lawmaker and an important business lobby are calling for additional inquiries into the Public Service Commission.

Associated Industries of Florida, which has sided with Florida Power & Light in its request to raise rates $1.3 billion, called for the PSC's inspector general to investigate Commissioner Nancy Argenziano's BlackBerry messages to her former aide, saying they raised questions about her impartiality.

And Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera, a Miami Republican who sits on the PSC nominating council, echoed Associated Industries president and chief executive officer Barney Bishop's call for an investigation of Argenziano, but said it should also include Commissioner Lisa Edgar, who exchanged BlackBerry messages with an FPL lobbyist, Jorge Chamizo.

The PSC has come under fire since the Times/Herald and other newspapers disclosed that commissioners and some PSC staff members socialized, sent text messages and were in frequent phone contact with officials from the utilities they regulate.

The revelations prompted a joint investigation by Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into criminal wrongdoing. Meggs said this week that the inquiry has not been completed, but had appeared to reach a dead end.

Argenziano said the calls for an investigation are baseless and malicious, and an attempt "to remove me from the rate case."

She defended the messages, saying she had nothing to hide and relied on messages to communicate with her aide when she was out of town or recovering from a broken leg.

Bishop said he singled out Argenziano because she was the only commissioner to hold herself to a higher standard when, last month, she urged Meggs to investigate the PSC.

"I'm blaming Nancy Argenziano for being self-righteous," Bishop said. "Nobody else is self-righteous. Please make that a quote."

Argenziano, who has come under fire for her financial dealings and has drawn two ethics complaints, said "there is a concerted effort to try to intimidate me."

If tradition holds, Argenziano is expected to become the new PSC chairwoman in January, with control over case assignments and schedules.

Consumer groups came to Argenziano's defense Thursday.

"It's not surprising to us that one of the largest industry lobbyist groups in Florida would find reason to attack her integrity and credibility," said Brad Ashwell of the Florida Public Interest Research Group.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com.

Industry group leader, lawmaker seek inquiry into Argenziano 10/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2009 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Nation

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  2. June 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter series.
  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Philando Castile family reaches $3 million settlement in death

    Crime

    MINNEAPOLIS — The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

    A handout dashboard camera image of Officer Jeronimo Yanez firing at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., July 6, 2016. [Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension via The New York Times]
  5. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.