Wansley Waters, Cynthia O'Connell, John Miles, Eduardo Balbis, Ron Brise, Julie Brown and Art Graham approved by Senate cmte.

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Seven of Gov. Rick Scott’s nominees for key posts, some of them renominated from former Gov. Charlie Crist’s days, sailed through the Senate Ethics and Elections Subcommittee on Monday, reports the News Service of Florida. Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Waters; Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell; Management Service Secretary John Miles; and PSC Commissioners Eduardo Balbis, Ronald Brise, Julie Brown and Art Graham all gained approval from the commission. Miles faced a couple of questions about how to handle the sale of state assets in the wake of the controversy over Scott’s decision to sell the state’s airplanes, while Graham was forced to explain a conversation he had with a utility lobbyist at a conference in Washington, D.C. Graham said he was waiting for dinner companions when he and an official with Aqua Utilities, which has a pending case before the commission, had a casual conversation in the hotel. “We didn’t talk at all, absolutely at all, about anything that can come before me for a vote,” Graham told the committee. Graham faces an ethics complaint over the meeting. David Bussey, one of Graham’s critics, said the commissioner’s explanation wasn’t convincing, particularly in light of Graham recalling the conversation lasted about 25 or 30 minutes. “How much does it take before any wrongdoing takes place? … Under oath, he admitted to betrying those people he was sworn to protect,” Bussey said. But senators largely took Graham’s side with Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, noting that a law barring ex parte communications has an exemption for conferences. The confirmations now move to the full Senate.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.