Group says FirstEnergy wants return on political investments
Spokeswoman Shari Weir said, "At the national, state and local levels, FirstEnergy is a political heavyweight, aggressively flexing its sizable political muscle built through years of campaign contributions."
The study showed contributions from FirstEnergy Political Action Committees and employees totaled $113,955 from 1997-1998 to Ohio statewide and legislative candidates and Ohio statewide political party committees.
From 1999-2000, FirstEnergy interests contributed a total of $289,291. During 2001-2002, FirstEnergy PACs and employees contributed $315,040. In 2002, FirstEnergy gave $50,000 to the same PAC, now called Ohioans Against Unsafe Drug Laws. FirstEnergy also contributed $25,000 directly to Governor Bob Taft’s issue PAC in 2000 and in 2003 they gave $200,000 to Taft’s Ohioans for the Third Frontier PAC.
On July 14, 2001 FirstEnergy spent $5,000 on a Legislative Day in Put-in-Bay. FirstEnergy also expended $11,000 on a legislative day at Put-in-Bay on August 14,2003. FirstEnergy lobbyists are not required to identify who attended this event because they invited all the members of the Ohio General Assembly. If every member of the legislature attended, FirstEnergy would have spent approximately $82 per legislator.
On the federal level, FirstEnergy PACs and employees contributed over $2.1 million during the 1998, 2000 and 2002 election cycles.
In a statement, Weir said: "The contributions are, in effect, an 'investment' that delivers regular and often huge rewards for the company."
On November 25, the Public Utilities Commmission of Ohio extended the case for two months, but it is still a rush-job, skipping the normal 275-day Commission review in rate cases, and shielding the plan from careful scrutiny. The Commission could and should order a typical, thorough rate case review. The legislature and Governor Taft could and should lean on the Commission to do so, since to date, the Commission is paving the way for the plan to speed through.
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