ICYMI: ‘A giant lobbying firm that runs a utility’: FirstEnergy’s involvement in Ohio politics dates back decades
Wadsworth, OH – A sweeping report from the Columbus Dispatch details the HB6 pay-for-play scandal embroiling Mike DeWine, his associates, and FirstEnergy. To this day, DeWine has refused to come clean about how much dirty money he has received from FirstEnergy, and rejected calls for him to credit these funds back to the people of Ohio, who are the victims of the pay-for-play scheme.
Read excerpts from the report below:
FirstEnergy paid more than $22 million between 2010 and January 2019 to attorney Sam Randazzo and his companies, including $4.33 million sent Jan. 2, 2019, according to federal investigators. A month later, Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Randazzo chairman of the PUCO.
Randazzo proved to be a valuable FirstEnergy ally. He pressured public officials to support the bailout bill and in November 2019, the PUCO, under Randazzo's leadership, got rid of a requirement that FirstEnergy file a distribution rate case in 2024, federal prosecutors allege. Randazzo has not been charged with any crime and says he did nothing wrong.
The utility and its former subsidiary also backed DeWine, through contributions to the Republican Governors Association and to groups supporting his campaign and that of his daughter, Alice, who ran for Greene County prosecutor in 2020. Neither Alice DeWine nor Mike DeWine has been identified as a target of the federal investigation.
FirstEnergy also had ties inside DeWine's cabinet. Dan McCarthy, who lobbied for FirstEnergy for more than a decade and led FirstEnergy's dark money group Partners for Progress, served as DeWine's chief lobbyist until September. Laurel Dawson, whose husband had consulted for FirstEnergy, served as DeWine's chief of staff.
Current Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a former House speaker; Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, were among FirstEnergy's top individual recipients, according to a review of PAC donations.
But not all of FirstEnergy's giving is easily found.
Between 2017 and 2019, FirstEnergy pumped $25 million into dark money group Partners for Progress, which was formed in the state of Delaware to evade detection, according to details in the company's deferred prosecution agreement.
Partners for Progress donated more than $15 million to Generation Now, Householder's dark money group. The dark money group also gave $300,000 to Securing Ohio's Future, which supported DeWine's bid for governor, and $75,000 to Protecting Ohio, a dark money group that backed Alice DeWine's failed GOP primary bid for Greene County prosecutor, according to 2019 tax forms.