Commissioner Nathan A. Skop issued the following statement today regarding a report issued by the Inspector General of the Florida Public Service Commission. The report reviewed the facts and circumstances surrounding the attendance of the Director of Strategic Analysis and Governmental Affairs (SGA) at a party held at the home of an FPL executive in Palm Beach Gardens while multiple FPL cases were pending before the Commission. The SGA director has direct supervisory oversight of staff recommendations relating to these FPL cases.
“The Inspector General has conducted the requested investigation and issued his report. Based upon these findings, the inexcusable conduct of this employee undermines the public trust and confidence in the regulatory process and impugns the integrity of this Commission. This is a clear cut ethics problem and perception issue. Clearly the Florida Public Service Commission cannot condone such conduct as it sends the wrong message to the people of the State of Florida and Commission employees.
Additionally, I am deeply concerned with the demonstrated lack of candor by the employee regarding this matter and the veracity of his statements. It suffices to say that the resultant cover story does not comport with the employee’s prior statements and is not persuasive. To this point, I would also note that the Executive Director previously spent thousands of taxpayer dollars to hire an ethics consultant to provide ethics training to Commission employees. The SGA director received this training. Furthermore, although standard Commission practice, the record clearly reflects the fact that the SGA director did not request or receive a written ethics opinion from the General Counsel prior to attending the party. Adding insult to injury, the Executive Director has taken no action to date to place the employee on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Based upon the report findings, and the additional concerns which I have outlined above, it is my intent to demand the immediate dismissal of the SGA director for conduct unbecoming of the Commission. Such decisive action, while unfortunate, is necessary to restore the public trust and confidence in the regulatory process.
Finally, as an attorney and appointed state official, I had both an ethical and legal obligation to disclose actual knowledge adverse to cases pending before the Commission, and to implement the necessary corrective action, absent such action being immediately taken by the employee or Executive Director. Although unfortunate and embarrassing to the Commission such disclosure was proper and necessary to protect the integrity of cases pending before the Commission.
In closing, exercising strong leadership in the face of adversity is not always popular, but consistent with the duty owed to the people of the State of Florida as an appointed state official. I am honored and privileged to serve our state as a Florida Public Service Commissioner and make no apologies for my no nonsense approach to regulation and the performance of my duties.”
Nathan A. Skop, Esq.
Florida Public Service Commission