ICYMI: Cleveland.com: Governor DeWine’s Schedule is Also The People’s Schedule – and Needs to Be Treated As Such
May 13, 2022
For Immediate Release:
Friday, May 13, 2022
“The DeWine administration should produce the requested information because, yes, Ohioans have an unquestionable right to know how their state does business in their names.”
Columbus, OH — In case you missed it, Cleveland.com’s Editorial Board is pushing for transparency and accountability from Mike DeWine after Ohio Democrats sued for answers in the largest public corruption scandal in state history. Ohio Democrats, on behalf of Ohio voters, are trying to find out what DeWine knew and when about the bribery scandal.
“One conceivable aim of DeWine’s administration: To conceal, in his daily calendar, what was discussed in certain meetings. One is a 2019 meeting with a FirstEnergy Corp. official before DeWine signed a $1 billion bailout – to be paid by Ohio electricity customers – of money-losing nuclear power plants then owned by a subsidiary of the Akron electric utility,” writes the Cleveland.com Editorial Board.
Since October, Ohio Democrats have been working on getting answers to who knew what and when about the FirstEnergy scandal – which Ohioans continue to pay $287,000 every single day for – but have been stonewalled at every turn by the DeWine administration. The lack of accountability from DeWine is leading Ohioans in all corners of the state to wonder what he’s hiding and why.
Read more from the Editorial column here and below:
- Once again, hair-splitting by state officials is getting in the way of the public’s right to know about public business conducted by public officials, in this case Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. The Ohio Democratic Party is suing the governor because it wants to see details of the governor’s official schedule but, the party alleges, DeWine’s office is misusing certain Open Records Act exemptions to mask them.
- One conceivable aim of DeWine’s administration: To conceal, in his daily calendar, what was discussed in certain meetings. One is a 2019 meeting with a FirstEnergy Corp. official before DeWine signed a $1 billion bailout – to be paid by Ohio electricity customers – of money-losing nuclear power plants then owned by a subsidiary of the Akron electric utility.
- DeWine signed the bailout, House Bill 6, on July 23, 2019. Six weeks earlier, on June 10, DeWine had met with Michael Dowling, then a FirstEnergy senior vice president.
- On March 31, 2021, DeWine quietly signed into law legislation repealing HB 6′s nuclear bailout and a “decoupling” provision that had also been inserted into the law that guaranteed FirstEnergy’s annual ratepayer revenue at 2018 levels, a notably high electricity-use year.
- Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer reported that Democrats’ lawsuit over DeWine’s schedule, filed May 5 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, challenges DeWine aides’ redacting of (editing and/or blacking out) parts of some entries in DeWine’s schedule from when he took office in January 2019 onward, including the entry for the meeting with Dowling.
- What the edited schedule does show, Pelzer reported, is that DeWine met with Dowling at the Governor’s Mansion, in suburban Bexley, for a half hour. But the schedule doesn’t reveal what the meeting’s purpose was.
- House Bill 6 and the alleged legislative corruption that would have forced consumers to pay for FirstEnergy’s mistakes is a matter of great public importance, as is Ohio’s cozy regulation of public utilities.
- Citing assorted exceptions to the Open Records Act to shield details of the governor’s schedule really amounts to denying voters and taxpayers information they need – and information they pay for in the form of salaries granted to public officials and employees entrusted with state business.
- It’s preposterous to apply the frequently misused “trade secrets” exemption to gubernatorial discussions. What’s in question aren’t chemical formulas or algorithms, but the public interest.
- In that connection, it’s important to recall what the Ohio Supreme Court decreed nearly 62 years ago in State ex rel. Patterson v. Ayers: “The rule in Ohio is that public records are the people’s records, and that the officials in whose custody they happen to be are merely trustees for the people; therefore anyone may inspect such records at any time, subject only to the limitation that such inspection does not endanger the safety of the record, or unreasonably interfere with the discharge of the duties of the officer having custody of the same.”
- Neither of those limitations applies to DeWine’s schedule: The people pay him to follow it; they pay someone to compile it; they have an irrefutable right to see what’s in it. The DeWine administration should produce the requested information because, yes, Ohioans have an unquestionable right to know how their state does business in their names.