The HB 6 Heat Turns Up on Mike DeWine and Jon Husted

Columbus, OH — In case you missed it, a Cleveland.com analysis this weekend outlined the various ways the HB 6 scandal will be harmful for Mike DeWine and Jon Husted if they decide to run for reelection. Connections between the largest public corruption scandal in state history and DeWine and Husted only continue to deepen as more information is released about the case. DeWine and Husted have tried to dodge questions about their role in this scandal up until this point, but Ohio voters deserve answers.

“The House Bill 6 corruption scandal already was going to be a campaign issue for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. But new details in the deal FirstEnergy Corp. signed with federal prosecutors last week put the scandal an additional step closer to the governor’s office, posing new complications as DeWine heads into what could be a challenging re-election year,” writes Andrew Tobias in an analysis for Cleveland.com.

“Mike DeWine and Jon Husted have tried to hide for too long, but Ohio voters deserve answers about what they knew and when. Last week only confirmed what so many of us already knew — the connections between the DeWine Administration and the HB 6 scandal run deep. The writing is on the wall, and DeWine and Husted can no longer get away with ‘no commenting’ their way out of this scandal,” said Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.

From ignoring concerns raised by members of their own party about the nomination of Sam Randazzo as PUCO chair, to all of their top-level staff with deep connections to FirstEnergy, to meetings they held with FirstEnergy executives and major campaign donations, Mike DeWine and Jon Husted have a lot to answer for as more information comes out about the case.

Read more from Cleveland.com HERE and below:

  • The House Bill 6 corruption scandal already was going to be a campaign issue for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

  • But new details in the deal FirstEnergy Corp. signed with federal prosecutors last week put the scandal an additional step closer to the governor’s office, posing new complications as DeWine heads into what could be a challenging re-election year.

  • DeWine has faced heat for his closeness with FirstEnergy, which admitted last week to funding a $61 million bribery scheme to pass HB6, a nuclear bailout bill. A close campaign adviser, Josh Rubin, is a former FirstEnergy lobbyist, DeWine’s former Chief of Staff Laurel Dawson is a former business partner of Rubin’s, while Dawson’s husband, Mike Dawson, long has done consulting work for FirstEnergy. And Dan McCarthy, DeWine’s legislative affairs director, is a former FirstEnergy lobbyist, even helping set up a dark-money group that helped funnel money from FirstEnergy to Generation Now, a different dark-money group that was charged in the bribery scheme.

  • In its deal with the feds, FirstEnergy said it paid a $4.3 million bribe to former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo weeks before DeWine hired him as the state’s top utilities regulator.

  • In late January 2019, Jones grew concerned that Randazzo wouldn’t get hired after details about Randazzo’s past business ties to FirstEnergy emerged, documents show. Elements opposed to Randazzo’s nomination, including American Electric Power, pushed them to the governor’s office.

  • But Randazzo cleared the screening process and DeWine picked him for the cabinet-level job.

  • “That bullet grazed the temple,” Michael Dowling, then a top FirstEnergy executive, texted to Jones, who responded: “Forced [State Official 1]/[State Official 2] to perform battlefield triage. It’s a rough game.”

  • Days before FirstEnergy first disclosed the $4.3 million payment in October 2020, the FBI searched Randazzo’s Columbus home. Asked about the search at the time, DeWine chose to defend Randazzo, going as far as to say there was no indication he was under FBI investigation.

  • “We’re waiting for additional information, quite candidly. I hired him. I think he’s a good person. If there’s evidence to the contrary, then we’ll act accordingly. But I’m not going to act without facts,” DeWine said during a televised state briefing.

  • Even without the HB6 scandal, DeWine faces a difficult re-election environment. There’s been Republican backlash nationally toward coronavirus restrictions — like the kind DeWine ordered last year — and DeWine has sparred with GOP state lawmakers who have voted to limit his ability to issue future health orders, overriding a DeWine veto.

  • Last year’s presidential race showed signs that DeWine had fallen out of favor with rank-and-file Republican voters – with DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted getting booed at multiple campaign events.

  • DeWine hasn’t directly fielded questions on the latest developments in the House Bill 6 case. But with the scandal’s closer proximity to his office, and the likelihood that the case won’t be resolved before the May 2022 primary election, he’s likely to face plenty.

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