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    Bradley named to utilities board

    Gov. Jeb Bush says the former St. Petersburg legislator is the best for the job. Critics call it a campaign debt repaid.

    By JULIE HAUSERMAN

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published November 3, 2001


    TALLAHASSEE -- Former Tampa Bay lawmaker Rudy Bradley -- who angered fellow Democrats when he switched to the GOP in 1999 -- won a prime political appointment from Gov. Jeb Bush Friday.

    Bush appointed Bradley to the five-member Public Service Commission, the government panel that oversees utilities. Bradley will make $123,000 in his new job.

    He will leave his current post in the Bush administration, as director of alternative education for the Department of Education, to start at the PSC on Jan. 2. His PSC appointment runs through 2006.

    In a news release, Bush praised Bradley's "broad experience and knowledge" of the state's utility issues.

    "Rudy is a friend and I trust him to be a good hardworking public servant," Bush said Friday. "He was actively involved in the regulated industry committee and his views in a very general way I was most comfortable with."

    Bradley did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment on his new post. He replaces Leon Jacobs, who was appointed by former Gov. Lawton Chiles.

    During his six years in the Legislature, Bradley served as vice chairman of the telecommunications and utilities committee and chaired the utilities deregulation committee.

    A former Pinellas County schools recruiter and and social worker, Bradley was elected as a Democratic state representative from St. Petersburg in 1994. In 1998, he supported then-candidate Jeb Bush over Democrat Buddy McKay. A year later, he switched to the GOP.

    The move cost him in his home district. In 2000, Democrat Les Miller of Tampa beat him in an election for state Senate.

    Tony Welch, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, called Bradley's PSC appointment a "political payback" from Bush.

    "Rudy Bradley switched parties and was promptly voted out of office," Welch said Friday. "Jeb couldn't put Rudy back in office, but he paid back an old campaign debt today."

    Bradley was chosen over five other applicants: Angel Alonso, a Miami businessman; Hamilton Oven, a Department of Environmental Protection administrator in Tallahassee; Alan Gibbs, a telecommunications executive in Jacksonville; William Dunn, a Miami consultant; and Leon Jacobs, Jr., who is on the PSC now.

    On Friday, Bush also reappointed Braulio Baez, a Tallahassee attorney, for another term on the PSC.

    - Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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