Guv’s utility regulators could be sent homeby Dara Kam | April 20th, 2010
GOP Senate leaders refused to sign off on two of Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointees to the Public Service Commission and the likelihood of the pair getting confirmation from the Senate required for them to stay on the job is dim.
Committee chairman J.D. Alexander, who is also the Senate’s powerful budget chief and has long been at odds with Crist, abruptly called an end to the meeting this morning with three minutes left on the clock as the panel was in the midst of interrogating Commissioner David Klement.
That drew the wrath of Sen. Mike Fasano, a Crist supporter who has been a vocal critic of the PSC but praised Crist’s latest appointees. An irate Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said Alexander was “rude” and “inappropriate” to cut off the meeting before voting on the appointees.
Alexander denied that the failure to confirm Crist’s appointees was political retribution against Crist, who alienated GOP leaders with his veto of SB 6 and increasing speculation that he is going to break away from the Republican Party and run as independent in the U.S. Senate race against primary opponent Marco Rubio.
Alexander’s committee isn’t scheduled to meet again before the session ends on April 30, and the budget chief doesn’t appear interested in keeping Crist’s picks on the panel.
He said that Klement, a former editorial writer, and Benjamin “Steve” Stevens, a Panhandle bar owner and accountant, are unqualified to regulate billions of dollars in utility rate because they lack financial expertise.
The committee unanimously approved nearly four dozen other gubernatorial appointees before taking up the PSC appointments but left Klement and Stevens for last.
“I think we need more time to consider whether these folks are qualified. I don’t think these folks are qualified,” Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said.