| October 21, 2003 |
FirstEnergy, reeling from a series of major financial problems, including
the near-nuclear disaster at the Davis-Besse plant, their role in the largest
blackout in U.S. history in August, and their restatement of earnings, files
a "rate stabilization" request at the Public Utilities Commission
of Ohio, seeking to extend the "transition costs" granted by the
legislature when Ohio deregulated electricity in 1999. The costs had been
due to expire at the end of 2005. The request amounts to a $3 billion rate
increase for FirstEnergy's residential and business customers in Ohio.
November 5, 2003
Ohio Consumers Counsel Robert Tongren resigns after being engulfed in
a scandal about his cozy relationships with utilities. Central to the
controversy was his decision to shred a consultant's report, produced
during the deregulation debate, showing that FirstEnergy was not entitled
to the billions of dollars in transition costs which it ultimately obtained.
Within days of her swearing-in, new Consumers Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander
is reportedly considering taking the FirstEnergy case to the Ohio Supreme
Court if the Commission approved it ("Rate debate could hit high
court," Jay Miller, Crain's Cleveland Business, April 12, 2004.)
June 9, 2004
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issues an order approving FirstEnergy's
June 14, 2004
Ohio Citizen Action warns that the Commission's order may be appealed
to the Supreme Court. ("PUCO lets price gouging go forward,"
Shari Weir, column, Crain's Cleveland Business, June 14, 2004
August 4, 2004
The Commission adjusts its June 9 order, and permits FirstEnergy to apply
for fuel cost rate increases as early as 2006. This decision greatly increased
the likelihood of a lawsuit challenging the decision.
August 6, 2004
FirstEnergy CEO Anthony Alexander hosts a fundraiser at his home for the
specific purpose of raising contributions for certain Supreme Court candidates.
At least two justices, Justice Terrence O'Donnell and Justice Maureen
O'Connor, reportedly attend the fundraiser in person. The event raises
at least $40,500, which is immediately pouring into Ohio Supreme Court
candidates' treasuries. (Several additional contributions may have come
in at that event, but the campaign contribution filings do not make that
October 1, 2004
Migden-Ostrander files suit at the Ohio Supreme Court, appealing the June
9, 2004 order. According to the suit, the plan should be scrapped as a
violation of Ohio's 1999 Ohio's electric choice law.
Ohio Citizen Action distributes information door-to-door throughout the
state on campaign contributions to Ohio Supreme Court candidates, and
key decisions which are pending. The literature cites the FirstEnergy
rate case as a key issue likely to come before the Ohio Supreme Court.
November 2, 2004
Thomas Moyer and Terrence O'Donnell are re-elected to the Ohio Supreme
Court, and Judith Lanziger is elected to fill an open seat. Paul Pfeiffer,
who had run unopposed, is also re-elected.
November 8, 2004
Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and Justices Alice Robie Resnick, Terrence
O'Donnell, and Evelyn Lundberg Stratton recuse themselves from an appeal
filed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's non-profit Citizens for a Strong
Ohio. "Four Ohio Supreme Court justices, all victims or beneficiaries
of corporate-bankrolled election ads, will not participate in decisions
related to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's attempt to prevent disclosure
of its contributors. " (Toledo Blade, November 9, 2004).
December 10, 2004
Ohio Citizen Action writes to Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, Justice Terrence
O'Donnell, and Justice-elect Judith Lanziger asking them to recuse themselves
from the FirstEnergy case, based on their campaign contributions from
the company's PACs and employees.
May 18, 2005
Chief Justice Moyer, and Justices O'Donnell, Lanziger, Stratton, and O'Connor
all recuse themselves from three public records lawsuits in the rare-coin
scandal involving Thomas Noe. "All had received big contributions
from Thomas Noe, the central figure in the scandal, or his wife, Bernadette
Noe: Thomas Moyer ($5,250), Terrence O'Donnell ($5,250), Judith Lanzinger
($5,000), Evelyn Stratton ($4,510), and Maureen O'Connor ($3,500), Toledo
Blade, May 19, 2005).
In announcing his decision to recuse himself in this case,
Chief Justice Moyer said, "It is not necessary for a judge to recuse
himself just because an attorney or party has contributed to his campaign.
However, this is a high-profile case with political implications and with
potential personal consequences for the campaign contributor in question."
September 12, 2005
Ohio Citizen Action writes to Chief Justice Moyer and Justices Stratton,
O'Donnell, Lanziger, and O'Connor, asking them to recuse themselves from
the FirstEnergy case, which is slated for oral arguments on September
28. According to the Ohio Citizen Action analysis, the following are the
total contributions to Ohio Supreme Court Justices from FirstEnergy and
FirstEnergy subsidiaries, including PACs and employees, from 1995 - 2005:
|Justice Evelyn Stratton
| Justice Terrence O'Donnell
|Chief Justice Thomas Moyer
|Justice Judith Lanzinger
|Justice Maureen O'Connor
The contributions aggregated above were not spread out evenly
throughout the decade. For example, 86% of FirstEnergy's contributions
to Chief Justice Moyer took place during the 2004 campaign.
Virtually all of FirstEnergy's campaign contributions to
2004 Supreme Court candidates came on one day, August 6, 2004. There were
44 contributions in one day, as a result of the fundraiser at Anthony
Questions to be asked about this fundraiser include:
- When did the invitations to this fundraiser go out?
- Who issued the invitations?
- What was Anthony Alexander's pitch to the attendees about
why campaign contributions to the Supreme Court candidates were needed?
- How many of the Supreme Court candidates attended the
fundraiser in person? Which ones?
- What was the complete list of attendees? For example,
contributors who work for the Boich Companies (which represent coal-mining
interests) and Consol Energy wrote checks to the Ohio Supreme Court
on that date, but it is impossible to tell from the filings whether
they attended the event at Alexander's home.
- Did Chief Justice Moyer receive checks that were
collected as part of the fundraiser? His campaign finance reports indicate
that he received checks from FirstEnergy with the August 6 date, but
do not note whether they were received from a fundraiser.