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From Our Mailbag

May 04, 2022 2:38 PM

Watch our latest video that features excerpts from letters from Ohioans who are speaking out about the missed opportunities and lack of leadership shown by Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted since the House Bill 6 scandal broke.

We are so grateful and inspired by the hundreds of letters - 845 so far - written to Governor Mike DeWine over our Crime with DeWine website. This entire campaign is a demonstration of how powerful our voices can be when we all speak together. 


FirstEnergy might have bought its way out of a criminal conviction, but upcoming depositions in a shareholder lawsuit could reveal more in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme:

Lawyers of FirstEnergy’s former lobbyist Mike Dowling are set to depose a current representative from FirstEnergy on May 19 and 20. Dowling named individuals in the DeWine administration in related civil lawsuits - specifically Lt. Governor Jon Husted.


The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is arguing that FirstEnergy should pay nearly $1.5 billion for mis-using a 'grid-modernization' fee the utility collected from ratepayers.

A recent PUCO-commissioned audit found no evidence that FirstEnergy used $456 million collected from Ohioans between 2017 and 2019 directly or indirectly in support of modernizing the electric grid as promised.

The audit noted that FirstEnergy staff, when interviewed, had a “general lack of knowledge on the specifics” of the fee, and neither the PUCO nor FirstEnergy even had a clear definition of what “grid modernization” meant.

Public scrutiny is the only solution to clean up corruption and increase  transparency and accountability.


Kitchen Table Talk

May 04, 2022 2:34 PM

We recently released a new video that features our own Development Officer Melissa English and Cincinnati resident Alison Kromer discussing the House Bill 6 scandal, Governor DeWine's lack of leadership in response, and what needs to be done to clean up corruption at the PUCO.

Two months ago we launched Crime with DeWine to call on Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted to reject regulated electric utility campaign contributions and spearhead reforms at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). 


It's been three years since Ohio lawmakers first introduced HB 6

Much of House Bill 6, the power plant bailout legislation now at the heart of the largest corruption case in Ohio's history, remains on the books.

Kathianne Kowalski from the Energy News Network reports how the HB 6 corruption crisis was both enabled and perpetuated by factors that erode democracy:

Dark money helped Ohio utilities subsidize coal plants, delaying action on climate change at ratepayers’ expense

It's time for Governor Mike DeWine to lead

Thanks to HB6, Ohioans will pay more on our electric bills every single month through 2030 to bail out OVEC coal plants. Customers get nothing in return.

"The most important and direct thing that Ohio can do to fight climate change and air pollution is to end the ridiculous subsidies which Ohioans are paying to keep two coal-burning power plants in operation."

Mark Wallach, Shaker Heights, letter to the editor, cleveland.com. 

Why has the DeWine administration failed to support more wind, solar, and other forms of clean, renewable energy? Why do we continue to pay with our wallets and our health for two failing coal plants?


DeWine was Warned

Apr 13, 2022 4:23 PM

Governor DeWine Was Warned

Governor Mike DeWine had been warned about the corrupt relationship between former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo and FirstEnergy Corporation prior to him hand-picking Randazzo for the job.

Despite the evidence, he appointed Randazzo, a decision that would end up costing Ohio ratepayers millions on their electric bills. It’s time for Governor DeWine to clean house at the PUCO.

Our Crime with DeWine campaign video highlights the latest details:

There is no more question of what Governor DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted knew or when they knew it. The only real questions that remain are why did Governor DeWine ignore the facts in front of him and put Sam Randazzo in charge of the PUCO anyway?

Why would you appoint a fox to guard the hen house? And why isn’t he interested in real PUCO reform now that the evidence is clear?”

Taking on big utilities like FirstEnergy and holding the DeWine/Husted administration accountable for their role in the HB6 scandal are bold moves against powerful actors. Abuses of government and corporate power can't go unchallenged - they'll only get worse.


This is a huge concern

Mar 30, 2022 1:43 PM

Our Crime with DeWine campaign released another video today. Hear the message that Audra from Rocky River has for Governor DeWine, asking him to fight for her as an Ohio consumer rather than protecting utilities who have reigned over Ohio politics and policies for far too long.

We need your help! We are asking everyone to record a short video message to the Governor.

Governor DeWine needs to hear from you!

Our launch video released by the campaign on March 8th has already received nearly 19,000 views on YouTube.


"The disclosure adds new heat to Gov. Mike DeWine, who appointed Sam Randazzo to the PUCO and signed HB 6 within hours of lawmakers passing it."


On the same day Governor Mike DeWine gave his State of the State address, the names of FirstEnergy officials who orchestrated payment of the HB6 bribes were identified


Records reveal FirstEnergy customers' payments were secretly flowing to a dark money group

We need a full picture of FirstEnergy’s political activity and the extent to which utility customers paid for it. Why isn't Governor DeWine calling for a full investigation?

We hope you will take a moment to record a short video message today.

Thanks for speaking out!


DeWine Disappoints Ohioans by Staying Silent on Corruption

Mar 23, 2022 1:18 PM

Ohio group calls out DeWine Administration for failure to address elephant in the room

Statement attributed to Rachael Belz, CEO of Ohio Citizen Action:

Governor Mike DeWine and his Administration may hope that Ohioans did not notice he chose to sweep the House Bill 6 scandal and Public Utilities Commission corruption under the proverbial rug during this year’s State of the State address, but that is not the case. In his first State of the State address since news of the House Bill 6 bribery and racketeering scandal broke, Governor DeWine irresponsibly omitted any discussion of the need for real utility reform and government transparency in his remarks.

Governor DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted created a culture in Ohio where utilities are in control of politics and policies and cleaning up that mess does not appear to be a priority for them even today. His refusal to acknowledge that his Administration had been touched by the allegations and his refusal to support real reforms around regulated utilities has driven Ohio Citizen Action to launch the Crime with DeWine campaign, asking the Governor to put an end to the free reign enjoyed by Ohio’s top utilities for far too long.

Why is Governor DeWine hiding from the opportunity to be a real leader for Ohio? There are clear actions that can be taken to restore faith and confidence in our state government. Our campaign has asked Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted to do their jobs for all of us by:

  • Donating to charity all campaign contributions received from regulated electric utilities and pledging not to accept any new contributions moving forward
  • Terminating any PUCO staff who have close ties to former Speaker Larry Householder or former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo to clean up corruption in the agency and
  • Recommending legislative changes to establish more balance in commissioner appointments to include consumer representation

We all agree that real power should lie with Ohioans, not with Ohio utility companies. No more empty promises, Governor. Stop the culture of corruption in Ohio.


More empty promises

Mar 22, 2022 12:36 PM

Good afternoon Ohio Citizen,

Our Crime with DeWine campaign released another video today. Ohioans like you are demanding more from Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted when it comes to restoring real power to Ohioans and reducing long-time utility influence over politics and policies.

We need everyone to ask Governor Mike DeWine how he plans to clean up the $60 million FirstEnergy corruption scandal that have plagued his administration.

Can we count on you to send the Governor a message?

(thanks to the hundreds of you who already did so)

The video release is accompanied by a digital billboard ad on display at the corner of State Street and High Street by the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus asking for Governor DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted to say no to campaign contributions from all regulated electric utilities. 

Don't forget to tune in tomorrow at noon for Governor DeWine's first State of the State address since 2019. We'll be watching too. 

Every day, new details reveal how dark money spending reaches right into the heart of Ohio governance and regulation

Judge says “The public has a right to know how it is that the political process was so easily corrupted”

Thanks for speaking out!


Response to "Crime with DeWine" Launch

Mar 18, 2022 11:09 AM

Video from our CEO Rachael Belz highlighting the response to the Crime with DeWine campaign that we launched last Tuesday. Rachael outlines three very specific asks directed at Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted in the wake of the House Bill 6 scandal.

Thank you to all who sent a letter to the Governor!

If you haven't sent a message yet, you still can at Crime with DeWine 

 


Another way to help:

Please submit a letter to the editor explaining why Governor DeWine needs to end the culture of corruption in Ohio


New developments in the FirstEnergy House Bill 6 corruption scandal:

U.S. District Court Judge John Adams walked out of a March 9 court hearing when a FirstEnergy lawyer evaded his question about "who paid the bribes?" in the House Bill 6 scandal is now pressing attorneys to justify why that information should be shielded from the public.

Larry Householder's trial won't begin until January 2023, but in the meantime he could be violating pre-trial release conditions by contacting witnesses and influencing pending legislation.

Greg Price, a judge who oversees utility cases at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio withdrew himself from four cases involving HB6. He cited the “truly unique circumstances” in play.

Greg Price’s recusal comes shortly after newly released documents show he played a part in policy discussions on HB 6 and responses to the FirstEnergy scandal. 

Please take a moment to write a letter to the editor. Our action page makes it really easy.

Thanks for speaking out!


2021 Year in Review

Mar 09, 2022 2:45 PM

A Letter from CEO, Rachael Belz

Greetings from the front lines of Ohio’s climate movement.

As we all continue to adapt to fallout from the pandemic, I’m proud to say that Ohio Citizen Action and Ohio Consumers Power Alliance have not just reacted but have proactively forged ahead toward our new normal.

I hope that last year heralded a pivot toward reinvigorated government and corporate accountability as part of our new normal. Some of the architects of corrupt House Bill 6 were fired or fined in 2021, and there are more revelations to come. Customers saw some of their money refunded. We’re not finished cleaning up the mess, and we certainly haven’t seen the end of court battles, be they criminal, civil or the court of public opinion. I’m sure you agree it’s not too much to expect government officials to reject bribes and put consumers’ interests above their own or those of their campaign donors.

I really appreciate your support last year and look forward to working with you toward a new normal that values and serves us all -- in 2022 and beyond.

View the full 2021 Year in Review here.


Ohio Citizen Action Launches “Crime with DeWine”

Mar 08, 2022 2:07 PM

Group calls on DeWine and Husted to reject contributions from all regulated utilities 

A prominent Ohio grassroots organizing group has launched a campaign calling on Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted to reject regulated electric utility campaign contributions and spearhead reforms at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). After nearly 18 months, the DeWine/Husted administration has failed to take decisive action in the wake of the $61 million scandal surrounding House Bill 6.

“Governor DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted created a culture in Ohio where utilities are in control of politics,” said Rachael Belz, CEO of Ohio Citizen Action. “They defend their staff and even former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo in the face of clear and mounting evidence linking them to corruption. Why is Mike DeWine choosing to defend those at the heart of the scandal rather than standing up for Ohioans?”

Ohio Citizen Action unveiled a video on the www.crimewithdewine.com website which chronicles Governor DeWine’s reactions to the news breaking around the scandal, his refusal to acknowledge that his Administration had been touched by the allegations, and his refusal to support real reforms around regulated utilities. Labeling the effort, “Crime with DeWine,” the campaign spoofs the popular “Wine with DeWine” press conferences conducted by the Governor and Lt. Governor during the early days of
the COVID-19 quarantine.

The effort is not tied to election-related activities or partisan campaigns. Rather, this grassroots effort specifically asks Governor DeWine and Lt. Gov Husted to act in their current official administration roles to reduce utility corruption and enact real reforms at the PUCO.

Ohio ratepayers have been subjected to paying for the bad business decisions and corrupt actions of regulated utilities for decades, with increased charges being levied on every Ohio utility bill today to subsidize coal plants included in House Bill 6. According to documentation from FirstEnergy, former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo received $4.3 million from FirstEnergy weeks before becoming its top regulator. In addition, recent audit reports have also uncovered that ratepayer dollars were improperly used to fund House Bill 6 dark money lobbying efforts.

“Enough is enough, Governor DeWine,” said Belz. “Campaign cash from Ohio’s top utilities have given them free reign over energy policy for far too long. If the buck truly does stop with your office, then put your money where your mouth is. Donate to charity all campaign contributions received from regulated electric utilities and pledge not to accept any new contributions moving forward.”

While Governor DeWine had been quoted as saying he would not accept contributions from FirstEnergy in this election cycle, the energy company has suspended all political spending, making the pledge moot. However, the Governor and Lt. Governor have made no such pledges about accepting contributions from AEP or other regulated utilities.

“Every day new details emerge, putting the House Bill 6 scandal one step closer to Governor Mike DeWine’s office,” said Belz. “No more empty promises, Governor. Stop the culture of corruption in Ohio. Show Ohio families that you care as much about their bottom line as you do about your own campaign cash. Real power should lie with Ohioans, not with the utility companies.”


Lawmaker supports 'Law and Order Act'

Mar 02, 2022 2:24 PM

NORWALK — House Bill 109 was voted forward by the Ohio House earlier this month and is awaiting a state Senate vote. If approved, it will be with a partisan vote from the gerrymandered Ohio House and Senate Republican majorities.

Ohio Citizen Action, an advocacy group that lobbies in the interest of public health, the environment and protecting democracy and creating a sustainable future, also opposes House Bill 109.

"Public protest is baked-in to our history, rights and character as Americans. But our ability to protest in Ohio is under attack. House Bill 109 equates civil disobedience with terrorism and seeks to shut down and bankrupt organizations exercising free speech," the group said in a news release.

"The so-called Ohio Law and Order Act degrades the ability of Ohioans to peacefully protest and even creates higher fines and prison time for individuals involved in and organizations supporting a protest where action is subjectively deemed a 'riot.'"

"The goal of HB 109 is not protection, but suppression," according to Ohio Citizen Action.

Matt Westerhold, Sandusky Register

https://sanduskyregister.com/news/372235/lawmaker-supports-law-and-order-act/