At the turn of this century (almost a decade ago), Attorney Generals from around the country were using the bully pulpit of their offices to make some major changes and reforms throughout the states.
I'm talking about Eliot Spitzer in New York, Michael Moore in Mississippi, Bill Lockyer in California, and our own Bob Butterworth in the Sunshine State. Of course, Butterworth had been at it a bit longer than most of those gents, having first been elected in 1986, and serving the state until 2002.
He's always maintained his reputation as a crusader fighting for the rights of Floridians.
Which is why it's a bit of a head scratcher to learn that Butterworth has been hired by Florida Power & Light for his "advise and consent" on the company's bid for a $1.3 billion rate increase.
The former longtime Attorney General told the Miami Herald:
"My whole role is to advise Florida Power & Light as to how they messed up the communications on this issue,'' Butterworth said. He added that his job does not involve helping the company win approval for higher rates, a decision the PSC has delayed until January when the two new commissioners take office.
New Port Richey state Senator Mike Fasano, told the Herald it looked like FPL is trying to buy off the negative implications of their request for a 30% rate hike.
``You can't buy your way out of how people perceive you,'' Fasano said. ``If Florida Power & Light wants to change the way people perceive them, they should stop asking for outrageous price increases their customers cannot afford.''
I've reached out this morning to the Florida Consumer Action Network's head, Bill Newton, to get his response to Butterworth's new financial arrangement with the power utility.
One last thing on the role of the AG's office. Charlie Crist took over for Butterworth in 2002, and surprised a lot of folks by being a consumer advocate very much in the manner of Butterworth. But some say that's no longer the case with the current AG, Bill McCollum, who has focused relentlessly on online sex crimes.