ICYMI: Who Was Sam Randazzo Really Working For? Hint: It Wasn’t Hard-Working Ohioans
October 21, 2021
Columbus, OH — In case you missed it, more proof surfaced Wednesday that former PUCO chair Sam Randazzo is in fact crooked. A new Cleveland.com/Plain Dealer report shares newly released text messages showing Mike DeWine’s good buddy overruled others on the utility commission to secure policies that benefited FirstEnergy. Yes, the same FirstEnergy that admitted to bribing Randazzo $4.3 million for friendly administrative rulings.
The new documents from the Ohio Consumers’ Council also show Randazzo successfully “burned” a final PUCO audit into a FirstEnergy customer charge that was so outrageous, it cost Ohioans more than $150 million per year from 2017-2019, until the Ohio Supreme Court ruled it should never have been approved by Randazzo and PUCO in the first place.
“The new details add context to an excerpt of [Chuck] Jones’ text included in FirstEnergy’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities stating that there’s “a lot of talk going on in the halls of PUCO about does (Randazzo) work there or for us,” writes Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer.
“Does Mike DeWine still think that Sam Randazzo did ‘a great job?’” asked Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.
You can read more from Cleveland.com here and below:
- Ex-Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo, whom FirstEnergy Corp. admitted to bribing, overruled other commissioners and staff to secure policies that benefited the Akron-based utility, according to a text message from former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones, obtained by a watchdog group.
- The OCC is now questioning whether that report contained information about whether FirstEnergy was improperly using money collected from customers to help pay a $60 million bribe to secure the passage of House Bill 6, a $1 billion-plus ratepayer bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants operated at the time by a FirstEnergy subsidiary.
- The new details add context to an excerpt of Jones’ text included in FirstEnergy’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities stating that there’s “a lot of talk going on in the halls of PUCO about does (Randazzo) work there or for us?”
- As part of that agreement, FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million fine and admitted to bribing Randazzo and ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, both of whom deny any wrongdoing.
- In the full text, Jones wrote that Randazzo had been “overruling” staff and other commissioners “on decoupling, getting rid of SEET and burning the DMR final report.” Jones also said he stopped by Randazzo’s house during a walk.
- Jones’ text message doesn’t provide more detail about exactly what actions Randazzo took regarding decoupling and the SEET, both of which were significant policy priorities of FirstEnergy.
- Last March, after Randazzo resigned from the PUCO, the commission ordered a new audit into whether money from the distribution modernization rider was misused for HB6-related activities. That audit is still ongoing.
- FirstEnergy Corp. spokeswoman Jennifer Young declined to comment when asked about Jones’ text and Randazzo’s role in decoupling and the SEET test, as well as “burning” the final audit.