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‘Fitness’ of PSC applicants to be considered

State Sen. Kelli Stargel wants “fitness” for office to be considered as background checks are conducted on 18 people, including some current and former lawmakers, who will be interviewed for an open seat on the Florida Public Service Commission.

A Lakeland Republican and chairwoman of the Public Service Commission Nominating Council, Stargel said investigations into the qualifications of each applicant must use “all the sources reasonably available within the time permitted by law to make sure we vet these candidates going forward.”

The council is looking to find a replacement for former state Rep. Ritch Workman, a Melbourne Republican who had been scheduled to join the Public Service Commission this month. Workman, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, had to withdraw before being seated because Senate Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican, accused him of sexual harassment. Benacquisto said she would not hold a confirmation hearing for Workman, who said he did not recall any impropriety.

That led to reopening the application process for the Public Service Commission seat, with the nominating council receiving 22 applications for the $132,000-a-year utility regulator job.

After eliminating a handful of the applicants Thursday, the council will conduct interviews Jan. 25 at the Capitol.

Among those who will be interviewed are state Rep. Kathleen Peters, a Republican from Treasure Island, former Republican House members Rich Glorioso, Ken Littlefield, Janet Adkins and Ray Pilon, State Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James and Baldwyn English, who served as chief adviser to former Public Service Commission member Ronald Brise.

Also up for the appointment is current PSC member Gary Clark, who was appointed to the panel by Scott to complete the term of Jimmy Patronis, who was named state chief financial officer. Clark’s term ends in January 2019.

In a cover letter, Clark called it an “honor” to have been appointed by Scott, and “I wish to be clear that I am not, at this time, resigning my recent appointment.” In applying for the open seat, Clark is seeking a term that would expire in January 2022.

Council members Thursday didn’t discuss the individual applicants, while indicating whether they supported or opposed granting interviews to the candidates.

The council is expected to forward several names to Scott, who will then make the appointment.

Among the applicants slated for interviews:

Baldwyn English, who served as the chief adviser to former Public Service Commission member Ronald Brise.

Robert Bennett, of Pensacola, a former chairman and chief executive officer with the U.S. Green Energy Corp.

– Former state Rep. Rich Glorioso, a Plant City Republican.

Erik Sayler, an associate public counsel with the state Office of Public Counsel.

Eric Seidel, managing partner with the Tampa law firm Mclntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito.

– Former state Rep. Ray Pilon, a Republican from Sarasota.

– Former Pasco County Commission Chairman Ted Schrader.

William Conrad, a former mayor of Newberry and chairman of the Florida Municipal Power Agency.

– Former state Rep. Ken Littlefield, a Wesley Chapel Republican.

– Okaloosa County Judge T. Patt Maney.

Brandon J. Patty, former aide to Gov. Jeb Bush who worked for campaigns for Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

– State Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James.

Andrew G. Fay, a chief deputy in the state attorney general’s office.

– Public Service Commission member Gary F. Clark.

Ashley Mason, southeastern regional director for the Christian Coalition of America.

– State Rep. Kathleen Peters, in Treasure Island Republican.

– Former state Rep. Janet Adkins, a Republican from Fernandina Beach.

– Pasco County Commissioner John “Jack” Mariano.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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