Forgive me for being unserious at a time when companies like Florida Power & Light (FPL)—the nation’s largest utility—keep racking up scandals, but it’s kind of hard to keep track of the latest outrageous episode because the next one immediately overshadows it. Surely, FPL could take part of its 2022 Q2 net income of $989 million and just put out a greatest hits record of its standout incidents. Perhaps FPL could have a record release party at the company’s exclusive event space, located on the third floor of its downtown Tallahassee offices right near the Florida state Capitol.
This invite-only spot, where FPL wines and dines lawmakers and lobbyists, was uncovered by Politico, which reports that the event space lacks a liquor license and could very well help lawmakers violate the state’s Sunshine Laws. At least, that’s the fear of one of FPL’s most vocal critics, State Rep. Anna Eskamani, who also told Politico that she worries the lounge presents an opportunity for lawmakers to violate the state’s gift ban, too. It’s certainly not something you’d read about in The Capitolist, the outlet FPL infiltrated through operatives for the company that has owned a controlling stake in it since 2019. As the Orlando Sentinel and Floodlight reported last week, FPL’s indirect meddling dates back to at least 2018, and includes influencing editorial coverage and even putting its own spin on story drafts.
The publisher of The Capitolist, former communications director under Rick Scott, Brian Burgess, even pitched to the company working on behalf of FPL to buy up Gannett-owned Florida papers like the Daytona Beach News-Journal and Florida Today to continue pushing its agenda onto other outlets. Naturally, a pitch for those plans ended up in the inbox of FPL CEO Eric Silagy, himself no stranger to email scandals. In 2021, it was revealed that Silagy had used a pseudonymous email account to help orchestrate a dark money plan to funnel donations to FPL-friendly candidates without catching the attention of anyone interested in holding FPL accountable.
Silagy also has a vindictive side. He directed two of his VPs in 2019 to make Sen. José Javier Rodríguez’s “life a living hell” over the lawmaker’s introduction of HB 222, which would incentivize more residential solar development but rob FPL of additional profits. You may have missed that scandal, which only came to light last week thanks to reporting from Floodlight. All of this is a lot to take in and isn’t exactly coming up without consequence for FPL. As Politico notes, FPL’s parent company NextEra (which also has its own history of scandals) has been downgraded from “buy” to “neutral” by investment firm Seaport Global.
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