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Fired utility reg panel staffer reassigned to general counsel’s office

by Dara Kam | September 17th, 2009

Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano’s former aide Larry Harris is back at work at the utility regulatory agency in the general counsel’s office.

Argenziano fired Harris earlier this month for giving his secret BlackBerry personal identification number (PIN) to Florida Power & Light Co. attorney Natalie Smith.

The PINs allow BlackBerry users to exchange messages that can be impossible to trace.

Two other commissioners – including Chairman Matthew Carter – put their aides, who make at least $84,000 a year, on paid leave until investigations into the messaging mystery are resolved.

Carter also banned the use of the PINs or other types of communication that don’t leave a public record.

Harris was reassigned to the general counsel’s office as a senior attorney where he now earns $60,000 a year. The PSC’s general counsel Booter Imhof resigned Friday. He gave two weeks’ notice and said he is going back to work for the House of Representatives.

The PSC’s lobbyist Ryder Rudd resigned earlier this month after it was revealed that he attended a Kentucky Derby party at the Palm Beach Gardens home of FPL VP Ed Tancer. An internal investigation could not prove whether Rudd, who oversaw staff handling several FPL rate requests, broke state law or rules by going to the fete.

The musical chairs at the PSC takes place during a $1.3 billion proposed FPL rate hike hearing. Progress Energy Florida is also seeking a $500 million rate increase. That case is scheduled to resume next week.

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4 Responses to “Fired utility reg panel staffer reassigned to general counsel’s office”

  1. No Free Passes Says:

    So let me get this right. Argenziano fired her PSC aide for giving out a PIN when she has a business deal and owns property with a municipal electric company lobbyist. I’m glad she is joining the other commissioners in calling for reform at the PSC, but I don’t think she should get a free pass for that. Practice what you preach.

  2. when does Argenziano resign??? Says:

    So Argenziano fired someone for responding to a public records request and giving out public information. PINs are not “secret” but don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story Dara. That’s good journalism.

  3. RT Says:

    Why are the other aides on paid leave? Are their Commissioners not serious about what they did? I guess they get a vacation and then they come back when all the media are gone. Skop is right, the place needs to be overhauled. He has been on the right track all along. I was not sure about him, but he sure is a bright guy that has exposed the evils at the PSC.

  4. whasup Says:

    So Argenziano’s staffer, lawyer, probably followed the public records law and gave out his PIN to the FPL lawyer.

    How screwed up is this place?

    The dude is an incompetent lawyer! He should have assessed the risk and sensitivity of that FPL request and referre the request to the General Counsel for an opinion about whether it was covered by the public records law. Now he’s working as a FPL lawyer. With this guy lawyering for the PSC now, their legal staff just got stooopider. The PSC is obviously incompetent.

    BTW, Dara, one wonders how many reporters also have PINs for PSC staffers and commissioners. The public records law that gives the press such access, gives all such access.

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