DeWine Does Damage Control
July 23, 2021
Columbus, OH — While FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million penalty yesterday in connection to the HB 6 scandal, it’s Mike DeWine and Jon Husted paying the price.
DeWine is rushing to play defense as connections further link the scandal to the DeWine/Husted team. Yesterday, DeWine laughingly tried to deny any knowledge of Sam Randazzo’s shady dealings, even after it’s been widely documented that many people –including members of his own party — warned DeWine about Randazzo before he appointed him to chair the Public Utilities Commission. Ohio voters deserve answers, and it’s past time that DeWine and Husted come clean about what they knew and when they knew it.
And the more information that comes out about the case, the more questions that are raised about DeWine and Husted and their deep connections to the scandal.
Read more from Ohio outlets below:
- As part of a deal with prosecutors, FirstEnergy admitted Thursday that it paid $4.3 million to former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo via a company he controlled in exchange for helping the utility pass the scandal-ridden House Bill 6 and other measures that benefited the Akron-based utility.
- The governor has acknowledged that he was warned by consumer and environmental groups about Randazzo’s ties to FirstEnergy prior to appointing him to chair the PUCO in February 2019.
- FirstEnergy said that it negotiated the payment while coordinating its agenda with Randazzo in the days before and after DeWine appointed him chair.
- Randazzo resigned from the PUCO last November after the FBI raided his Columbus home and news of the payment became public.
- Sam Randazzo is believed to be one of two public officials mentioned in court documents who received money from FirstEnergy through a dark money group in exchange for support of House Bill 6, a $1 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants.
- DeWine appointed Randazzo as chairman of PUCO, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, in 2019.
- Randazzo and former House Speaker Larry Householder are believed to be the two people referenced in court documents Thursday. FirstEnergy is cooperating with a Department of Justice investigation and has agreed to pay a $230 million fine.
- DeWine, who appointed Randazzo in February 2019, thanked Randazzo for his service. “He has done very, very good work as chair,” the governor told reporters then.
- Now, new court filings confirm FirstEnergy officials say they paid a $4.3 million bribe to Randazzo in exchange for his help advancing the Akron-based company’s interest while he was serving as the state’s top utilities director.
- Immediately before and after DeWine hired Randazzo as the state’s top utilities regulator, court filings say, Randazzo helped develop strategy and legal language for the House Bill 6 nuclear bailout law, which included a provision guaranteeing the company’s revenues at high 2018 levels, and also pushed to cancel a 2024 rate review case that the company believed would hurt its bottom line by saving consumers money.
- DeWine had disregarded cries of alarm in early 2019 from consumer and environmental advocates, when he was considering Randazzo, the Associated Press reported in December.
- Besides selecting Randazzo, DeWine also signed House Bill 6 into law on the day it hit his desk. The law included a $1 billion bailout for FirstEnergy Solutions’ two nuclear plants in northern Ohio.
- DeWine and his relatives also benefitted from dark money that FirstEnergy spent in recent campaigns. FirstEnergy’s dark money group Partners for Progress donated $300,000 in 2019 to Securing Ohio’s Future, a dark money nonprofit that backed DeWine and Husted’s 2018 gubernatorial bid.
- Protecting Ohio Inc., which backed Alice DeWine’s failed prosecutor bid in Greene County, was funded by two donations in 2019: $100,500 from Securing Ohio’s Future and $75,000 from Partners for Progress.