State attorney finds nothing criminal at utility reg panel…yetby Dara Kam | October 13th, 2009
State Attorney Willie Meggs says there’s no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at the Public Service Commission but he hasn’t ended his investigation of possible violations of Florida’s broad Sunshine Laws.
His investigators “are about running out of things to do and people to talk to but at this point we have not found anything criminal,” Meggs said.
But he hasn’t yet shut down the investigation, the prosecutor said.
Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007 and slated to become chairwoman of the regulatory panel next year, asked Meggs to conduct an investigation after news reports revealed that some commissioners’ aides had swapped secret BlackBerry messages with utility executives during the run-up to two multi-billion dollar rate hike hearings.
Argenziano “fired” her aide, Larry Williams, for sharing his PIN with FPL attorney Natalie Smith. He was reassigned within the agency to the general counsel’s office as a senior attorney.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has also questioned commissioners and their staff but officials there say they are simply looking into the allegations but are not conducting a full-fledged investigation.
Argenziano wants a grand jury to look into allegations of coziness between the regulators and the utilities they oversee and what she sees as an effort to thwart the state’s broad open government laws.
While Meggs hasn’t ruled out a grand jury, he said he doesn’t have anything to present to them yet.
“The way we do grand juries is generally we investigate the matter first to see if there’s something to present to the grand jury. This may be something that a grand jury would be interested in, just in the procedures that they use. I would not foreclose a grand jury,” Meggs said.
“But I’m really not considering that,” he added.