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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

Will George LeMieux really want to leave D.C.?

From Steve Bousquet's column (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/senate-seat-may-be-too-comfy-to-just-keep-warm/1035576): Now that Crist has handed a lifetime of privilege to LeMieux, the new senator will find that Washington can be an extremely intoxicating place.

Right about the time LeMieux will feel truly accustomed to his surroundings, he'll be tapped on the shoulder and told to make room for an elected senator.

Will LeMieux be ready to leave gracefully? There's an undeniable power of the place, the political intrigue, the history that seems to lurk around every corner

Posted by Adam Smith at 08:28:37 AM on September 12, 2009

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Meet Alex Sink's new finance director

She is Joanna Belanger, who was Al Franken's deputy finance director. Other clients have included Illinois congressional candidate Tom Geoghegan, Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, and former Florida congressman Tim Mahoney, D-Bluetooth.

Posted by Adam Smith at 08:33:01 AM on September 12, 2009

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Argenziano and Lopez-Cantera exchange heated letters over PSC

PSC Commissioner and former state senator Nancy Argenziano and Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera have traded heated letters this week following a Herald/Times story that noted that Lopez-Cantera was the lone vote on the PSC nominating council against re-nominating Commissioner Matthew Carter.

Lopez-Cantera didn't like that Carter voted to require FPL to disclose their salaries and because he thought Carter lacked strong leadership. Argenziano told us that Cantera's attitude was another example of the kind of legislative intimidation that keeps the PSC too political, and too cozy with the utilities it regulates.

Lopez-Cantera fired back. In a letter to Argenziano, he produced copies of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report that detailed the salaries of several executive officers of FPL who make more than $50,000. The list does not include all 400 employee FPL has who make more than $165,000, which Argenziano and the commission unanimously called for, nor does it include the executive compensation packages which FPL has provided, but kept confidential for each named employee.

Lopez-Cantera said he was critical of Carter and the rest of the commission for a "lack of awareness'' of the federal report, noting it took his office "less than an hour to produce. "The same information would have saved the PSC time and the taxpayer money,'' he wrote. Download Cantera letter to Argenziano (http://miamiherald.typepad.com/files/canter-letter-to-argenziano.tif)

Argenziano shot back with a letter of her own. She wrote that Lopez-Cantera's "gullible acceptance'' of the FERC report was "flabbergasting.'' She said the data "underreports the salaries of the individuals identified" and "totally disregards stock awards, option awards, and bonuses. And 'non equity compensation' - none of which is available on line, as you advise - and was thus of absolutely no value to the Commission." She even suggests he could have "simply attached an abstracted portion of the utility's argument at hearing." Download Cantera from Argenziano (http://miamiherald.typepad.com/files/cantera-from-argenziano)

Lopez-Cantera, by the way, has said he opposes FPL's rate hike.

Meanwhile, here's Argenziano's letter to State Attorney Willie Meggs, outlining why she thinks he should call a grand jury to investigate the PSC and what she believes the Legislature has undue influence over it: Download Argenziano to Meggs (http://blogs.tampabay.com/files/argenziano-to-meggs.docx)

Posted by Mary Ellen Klas at 10:01:45 AM on September 12, 2009

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Sansom wants perjury charge tossed

Ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom has already asked a judge to throw out the official misconduct charge stemming from the $6 million he put in the 2007 for a Destin Airport building. Now he wants the perjury charge dismissed.

His lawyer, Steve Dobson, asserts in a court motion that there are no facts to back up the felony charge. Read the motion here (http://blogs.tampabay.com/files/sansomdismiss2.pdf). Sansom is accused of working with ex-Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg and developer Jay Odom to get money for the building that Odom would partly use for his corporate jet business.

"The defendant's testimony regarding legislative intent cannot form the basis of a prosecution for perjury. The defendant's belief as to the legislative intent behind the appropriation is immaterial. Legislative intent is conveyed through the language of a statute, and when the language is 'plain, definite in meaning without ambiguity ... [then the statute] fixes the legislative intent. ... In this instance, the legislative intent is clear and the appropriation contains no mention of the proposed building being used by a private entity. Thus one must conclude that the legislature did not intend any private use of the facility that was being funded and the defendant's opinion regarding the legislative intent is accurate. Any claim that the legislative intent is contrary to that which is expressed within the appropriation is by its very nature opinion and cannot be offered as a fact."

Posted by Alex Leary at 03:57:15 PM on September 12, 2009

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Winner and loser of the week

Winner of the week: Jeff Atwater. The Republican senate president and chief financial officer rebuffed Gov. Crist's talk of an October special session to hastily ratify the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe and to open up Florida to offshore drilling. Complex issues requiring deliberation, sure. But a cynic might suggest it also leaves issues on the table while campaign contributions continue to flow.

Loser of the week: Cynthia Muir. As if the Public Service Commission couldn't look any worse than it already does, spokeswoman Muir (already in the news for sharing her private BlackBerry messaging codes with utility officials) decides it's a nifty idea to physically restrain a TV reporter who wanted to ask the commission chairman a question. Somebody needs a crash course in PR.

Posted by Adam Smith at 05:38:00 PM on September 12, 2009

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