Public Service Commission Ethics

Four of the five members of the Florida Public Service Commission are accused of accepting free meals and drinks from some of the phone companies they regulate.

The Commissioners are under fire for schmoozing with telephone company lobbyists at a utility conference in Miami two years ago.

Mike Twomey represents the citizens group known as " Florida Utility Watch" "As we know this came in advance of the largest rate increase in the history of the state. I'm not going to suggest that the Public Service Commissioners were influenced by lunches and dinners and socializing to increase these rates but the public has to wonder and have a perception, and the perception is that the activity has to stop really."

The Florida Ethics Commission has already concluded there's enough evidence of legal violations to order a trial.

But an attorney represeting the four PSC members in hot water says they've done nothing wrong.

Mark Herron is their attorney. "Well yeah the Commissioners are actually looking forward to establishing and re-establishing the confidence of the people in the state of Florida with respect to this matter. A number of them have recognized because they did not know at the time that these matters were sponsored by regulated industries, they appreciate the appearance of the problem, and they want to resolve those issues as quickly as possible."

If and when the case does actually go to trial, the four commissioners face the possibility of a ten thousand dollar fine for each ethical violation.