Mike DeWine’s Buddy Sam Randazzo Finds Himself at the Center of Another Major Court Case

Columbus, OH — Remember when a bunch of people tried to warn Mike DeWine that Sam Randazzo was too close to Big Energy, but Mike DeWine appointed him to be Ohio’s top energy regulator anyway? Well, this week the Ohio Supreme Court joined the Feds in reminding DeWine why that was a terrible decision after they ruled that Randazzo should not have approved a FirstEnergy affiliate’s ability to help Ohioans shop for utilities, because it was too closely tied to the utility itself. As a note for those of you watching at home, this is AFTER Randazzo took a multi-million dollar bribe from FirstEnergy.

The latest repudiation of Randazzo comes as DeWine faces more and more questions about his ties to FirstEnergy and the largest public corruption scandal in state history. DeWine has continued to defend his selection of Randazzo to serve as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, even after the FBI raided his home. This week’s ruling only further confirms that DeWine’s connections to Randazzo will continue to be a problem.

“It seems like every week, Mike DeWine is further embroiled in another scandal that betrays Ohio voters. This week was no different. DeWine ignored warnings about Randazzo, putting the needs of Big Energy above the interests of Ohioans, leaving Ohio voters to pay the price. Mike DeWine can’t be trusted,” said Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.

Read more below from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

  • In April 2020 the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio led by chairman Sam Randazzo approved FirstEnergy Advisors as a “competitive retail electric service provider” – essentially an energy broker and aggregator that shops for electricity for customers.

  • These brokers are an alternative to purchasing energy directly from a distribution company like FirstEnergy’s Ohio Edison.

  • The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council opposed FirstEnergy Advisors’ application, saying that the applicant shared a parent company, FirstEnergy Corp., and several executives with the distribution companies.

  • A 2018 independent audit raised the same corporate-separation concerns

  • PUCO staff ultimately disagreed with consumer advocates, saying in a two-paragraph finding that FirstEnergy Advisors intended to comply with all commission rules and recommended that it be approved. 

  • On Thursday the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the PUCO should not have approved FirstEnergy Advisors’ application.

  • FirstEnergy has been under scrutiny for connections to its subsidiaries past and present after five were arrested in connection with a nearly $61 million bribery scheme to pass a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear plants then-owned by FirstEnergy Solutions

  • FirstEnergy Corp. admitted to bribing two public officials, including Randazzo, and will pay a $230 million penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.