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DeSantis Picks Daughter Of State Senator Passidomo For $136K PSC Seat

Florida Public Service Commission
The Florida Public Service Commission is pictured. Gabriella Passidomo will be joining the commission after an opening was created when Commissioner Julie Brown (center, seated) left for another state appointment.

Gabriella Passidomo, a daughter of an influential state senator, was appointed Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis to a seat on the Florida Public Service Commission.

Passidomo, who since 2019 has worked as a PSC attorney, will move to a $135,997-a-year position on the five-member commission, which regulates and sets rates for such things as electric, natural gas and water utilities.

A brief news release from the governor’s office said Passidomo --- a daughter of Senate Rules Chairwoman Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples --- is an attorney in the regulatory analysis section of the PSC general counsel’s office and that, as a student, spent time as a legal intern in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Electricity and Fossil Energy. 

Gabriella Passidomo, whose mother is slated to become Senate president after the 2022 elections, also served as a law clerk for the Florida solicitor general in the Office of the Attorney General. 

She is DeSantis’ second appointee to the Public Service Commission. DeSantis last year appointed former Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, to a seat on the panel. 

DeSantis chose Gabriella Passidomo over state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, lobbyist Rosanna Manuela Catalano and Ana Ortega, who has served as chief policy adviser to three members of the commission. The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council last month sent those four names to DeSantis.

Passidomo will fill a seat that became empty when longtime Commissioner Julie Brown was appointed in February by DeSantis as secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

During her April 12 interview with the nominating council, Passidomo said that in her $48,000-a-year legal position she has worked on issues such as water and wastewater rate cases and an 813 area code numbering plan.

She said the commission has opportunities to “grow in the areas of renewable energy and electric vehicles,” along with regulating water quality, while needing to maintain an ability to “communicate decisions to consumers in a way that recognizes that everyone is part of the process.”

She was the only candidate to receive support from all 11 members of the nominating council, which is chaired by Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, and includes Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, Rep. David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores, and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Johns.

No debate was held on the applicants.

In her application for the job, Passidomo noted her responsibilities have included providing analysis and recommendations on a variety of issues, including water and wastewater cases; utility conservation dockets; demand side management issues; competitive market oversight of the telecommunications industry; and legislative bill analysis.

Passidomo graduated from the Washington & Lee University School of Law in 2019. She noted that in her third year at Washington & Lee, she researched the challenges of natural-gas pipeline construction regarding federal certifications under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Through my research compiling this 30-page report, I became very familiar with federal environmental and energy policy, as well as the current case law interpreting these federal statutes,” Passidomo wrote.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida in 2014 and is in the master of business administration program at Florida State University.