Mike DeWine Can’t Shake Connections to ‘The Biggest Public Corruption Case in Ohio History’

In Case You Missed It, today Laura Bischoff with the Columbus Dispatch reported that Mike DeWine’s hand-picked utility regulator Sam Randazzo, who had long ties to FirstEnergy and who has been implicated in the HB 6 scandal, is now scrambling to sell off real estate properties for hundreds of thousands of dollars as he’s being investigated by the FBI, moves that don’t exactly scream ‘I’m innocent.’ DeWine rushed through Randazzo’s appointment in 2019 to lead the state’s Public Utilities Commission in Ohio despite his ties to the industry and warnings even within his own party that Rendazzo’s ties FirstEnergy were problematic.

DeWine’s team recruited Randazzo for the job, ignored a dossier sent by fellow Republicans that raised serious concerns with his ties to FirstEnergy and rushed him through the screening process. Randazzo was then implicated in the HB 6 scandal after FirstEnergy revealed it made a $4 million payment to the head of a consulting firm that matched Randazzo’s description. The FBI raided Randazzo’s home in November and Randazzo is now selling off multiple properties for millions of dollars, including a Florida home near HB 6 ringleader Larry Householder and former FirstEnergy Executive Chuck Jones.

Despite Randazzo’s apparent ties to the HB 6 scandal, DeWine remains defiant about his selection of Randazzo, saying that “I think he’s (Randazzo) a good person” and “he has done very, very good work as chair.” As a reminder to Ohio voters who are still paying for the HB 6 bailout, DeWine also said after Randazzo resigned as chair, that “The buck stops with me. I’m the one who ultimately makes those decisions.”

“Mike DeWine ignored warnings even within his own party, rushed the process and appallingly appointed Sam Randazzo — a man with long ties to FirstEnergy — to serve as the energy regulator for the state of Ohio. Now, as it becomes clearer that Randazzo likely played a major role in the HB 6 scandal — which Ohio voters continue to pay for — DeWine’s only response is that Randazzo is ‘a good person.’ While Mike DeWine would love to pretend the HB 6 scandal is behind him, more comes out every day about how deep this crisis goes within his circle of friends and advisors,” said Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.

Read more from Laura Bischoff HERE and below:

  • After FBI agents searched his German Village condo in November, attorney Samuel Randazzo began off loading real estate holdings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • In February, he transferred ownership of a house in the Columbus suburb of Grandview that he bought in 2013 for $346,000 to Samuel Brewster Randazzo for no money. In March, he sold a house in nearby Marble Cliff for $615,950, less than five months after buying it for $600,000.

  • Randazzo is in contract to sell his 2,836-square-foot waterfront condo in Naples for an estimated $3.9 million, according to Redfin

  • Randazzo resigned as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in November, following the FBI raid and a disclosure by FirstEnergy Corp. that it paid $4.3 million in January 2019 to an unnamed individual who subsequently was appointed as a state utility regulator.

  • Randazzo’s condo in Naples is a mile from ocean-front condos owned by the now former chief executive of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp, public records show.

  • Chuck and Kimberly Jones purchased a condo for $6.35 million in September – just a month before FirstEnergy fired Chuck Jones and two senior vice presidents. The company said the three failed to tell the board of directors about the $4.3 million payment. The Joneses also own another condo in the same complex that they bought in 2008, Collier County property records show.

  • Lobbyist Neil Clark owned a condo five miles north of Jones’ properties. Clark sold his place for $750,000 on July 15, just a week before his arrest on federal racketeering charges in the House Bill 6 case. The IRS had placed a lien against the property for unpaid taxes and fees. Clark died by suicide in Florida on March 15.

  • Clark was among five Republicans charged in U.S. District Court in what prosecutors call the biggest public corruption case in Ohio history. FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes and political operator Jeff Longstreth pleaded guilty in October. State Rep. Larry Householder, the former House speaker, and former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges have pleaded not guilty.

  • Householder owns a Naples condo, which records show he purchased in 2009. His place is less than 10 miles from the Randazzo and Jones properties.

  • FirstEnergy disclosed last week that it is in early talks with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio to get a deferred prosecution agreement. In such deals, a party agrees to pay fines, change behaviors and cooperate with prosecutors. In exchange, the government agrees not to pursue a criminal conviction.