Scott Pulls Back Crist Picks for PSC, Other Boards

By: Keith Laing, The News Service of Florida Email
By: Keith Laing, The News Service of Florida Email

Tallahassee, FL - Gov. Rick Scott late Wednesday withdrew a host of appointments made by former Gov. Charlie Crist but still awaiting Senate confirmation, including Crist’s final four choices for the Florida Public Service Commission.

PSC Commissioners Ronald Brisé, Eduardo Balbis, Julie Brown and Chairman Art Graham, who were all appointed to the utility regulation panel last year, were among 168 Crist appointees withdrawn by Scott in a letter to Senate President Mike Haridopolos. The quartet was appointed by Crist last summer and fall after lawmakers voted down two other appointees.

Scott’s move Wednesday mirrored Crist’s first days as governor in 2007, when he recalled appointments made by former Gov. Jeb Bush. Then, Crist replaced Bush's final two picks for the PSC with Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop, who themselves were replaced by Brown and Balbis.

During his transition, Scott did not comment specifically on the PSC, but campaign officials foreshadowed Wednesday’s decision last fall, saying that he would review all appointments.

Mindful of the fact that their futures on the PSC were dependent on Scott, Commissioners Balbis and Brown have tried to keep a low profile on the PSC. And the pair have not had to weigh in on any particularly high-profile cases in the beginning of their PSC tenure.

That wasn’t the case for two other recent short-term commissioners, David Klement and Benjamin “Steve” Stevens, who both voted against a record rate increase for the state’s largest power company, Florida Power & Light, within a month of the beginning of their four-year terms. The following spring, neither survived a confirmation fight.

Graham, who was elected PSC chair in the fall, has told lawmakers that he wanted to follow the Legislature’s wishes. "I'm going to try not to let you down and I'm going to try to lead you into the path that our friends over in the House and the Senate want us to go," Graham said moments after assuming the chairmanship.

In addition to the PSC, Scott withdrew appointments to several other boards and commissions, including the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, the Citrus Commission, the Energy & Climate Commission, the Housing Finance Corporation, the Real Estate Appraisal Board and the state Boxing Commission.

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