Argenziano: AIF accusations “baseless” and “stupid”by Dara Kam | October 15th, 2009
Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano dismissed a business-backed group’s demand for an investigation into her BlackBerry messages with her former aide as ridiculous and an attempt to intimidate her.
“It’s highly suspicious and rather stinky at this point,” Argenziano said.
Associated Industries of Florida President Barney Bishop today asked for a PSC inspector general investigation into thousands of messages exchanged between Argenziano and Larry Williams, a former aide whom Argenziano fired for giving his secret BlackBerry personal identification number to a Florida Power & Light Co. attorney.
Bishop accuses Argenziano of showing bias in the messages. AIF is an intervenor in support of FPL’s current request for a $1.3 billion rate hike now being considered by the panel.
Argenziano, an outspoken critic of the PSC, asked State Attorney Willie Meggs to convene a grand jury to look into possible Sunshine Law violations and other allegations of wrongdoing at the regulatory agency. Meggs recently said he has not found any evidence of crimes thus far.
She has also challenged FPL to reveal the salaries of its highest-paid employees not only to the PSC but to the public in general. The Juno Beach-based utility is fighting that in court.
State law prohibits commissioners from talking about current cases with the parties involved but does not bar regulators from communicating with their employees.
Argenziano called Bishop’s allegations ridiculous.
“I think what they really would like is for me to lose my cool. That’s not going to happen.
These people are trying to intimidate me,” said Argenziano, a former state senator appointed to the PSC by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007. “The people need to know that their commissioner is being intimidated for doing my job. I think it’s hysterical that they would come after me for talking to my aide.”