Columbus, OH — In case you missed it, in Ohio Capital Journal today, Mike DeWine continued to stand by disgraced former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo, even after Randazzo is under investigation by the FBI and all but confirmed to have taken a $4.3 million bribe from FirstEnergy. DeWine appointed Randazzo to serve as Chair of PUCO despite several warnings — even from fellow Republicans — about Randazzo’s ties to the energy industry.
“But even with the admissions from a utility that said it was coming clean and paying $230 million in fines, DeWine Press Secretary Dan Tierney wouldn’t say that the governor regretted hiring Randazzo as PUCO chairman,” writes Marty Schladen for Ohio Capital Journal.
It’s just the latest example of DeWine standing by Randazzo and the rest of his team with ties to the largest public corruption scandal in Ohio history. Immediately following Randazzo’s resignation, DeWine said Randazzo did “very, very good work as chair” and called him “a good person.” DeWine has also refused to fire Laurel Dawson, who knew about the payment to Randazzo, and Dan McCarthy, who founded a dark-money group that FirstEnergy funneled money through as part of the scandal.
“While Ohioans wait for answers, Mike DeWine continues to hide behind his staff and refuse to hold anyone in his orbit accountable for the largest public corruption scandal in state history. Ohioans deserve accountability and they deserve transparency. It’s far past time for Mike DeWine to tell us what he knew and when,” said Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.
Read more from Ohio Capital Journal HERE and below:
- A huge Ohio utility paid Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s pick to be the state’s top utility regulator millions and the regulator, Sam Randazzo, proceeded to do favors for the utility that were worth at least hundreds of millions, the utility and federal prosecutors have said.
- But more than a year into one of the biggest public-corruption scandals in Ohio history, the governor’s staff won’t say that DeWine regrets hiring Randazzo in the first place.
- When the scandal broke last July, then-House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford and four associates were charged in what prosecutors said was “likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme ever in the state of Ohio.”
- It said that Randazzo was paid $22 million over the years under a consulting agreement with FirstEnergy — including $4.3 million just weeks before DeWine appointed him as chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Ohio. The agreement also quoted from text messages in which former FirstEnergy executives discuss the payment with Randazzo and in which Randazzo tells them, “you guys are welcome anytime and any whereI [sic] can open the door.”
- Despite the fact that Randazzo was supposed to be a neutral regulator, the deferred prosecution agreement said he helped write a provision in the bailout legislation that was worth $102 million a year for FirstEnergy and he helped delay a 2024 rate review so that the subsidy would remain in place after that.
- But even with the admissions from a utility that said it was coming clean and paying $230 million in fines, DeWine Press Secretary Dan Tierney wouldn’t say that the governor regretted hiring Randazzo as PUCO chairman.
- The governor has also been reluctant to criticize others in his orbit who figure in the bailout scandal.
- Randazzo has said Laurel Dawson helped recruit him to be a PUCO commissioner. Later, as DeWine’s chief of staff, she learned of the $4.3 million payment by FirstEnergy to Randazzo last October. But she didn’t tell DeWine for two-and-a-half weeks and only then after the FBI had raided Randazzo’s condo, according to the administration.
- The governor also has confidence in Dan McCarthy, who as a FirstEnergy lobbyist founded Partners for Progress, a dark money group that Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel said was essential to carrying out the bailout conspiracy.