Recent news

FirstEnergy pumped $1M into backing DeWine, records show

Mar 17, 2021 7:48 PM

COLUMBUS –– "Akron-based FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy Solutions donated more than $1 million to nonprofit groups and political campaigns since 2017 to help elect Gov. Mike DeWine, according to a Dayton Daily News investigation.

... The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the kind of giving found in the records is a form of free speech and legal as long as the nonprofits are independent and don’t coordinate work with political candidates. However government watchdog groups say the lack of transparency in huge political contributions like this makes it much harder for voters to know whether their public officials are acting for the benefit of donors or constituents."

–– Laura A. Bischoff, Columbus Bureau

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Letters: Repeal House Bill 6 in its entirety

Mar 17, 2021 3:12 PM

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta) 

CINCINNATI - "Continuing to have HB 6 as the law not only impugns the integrity of the state government, it questions the whole democratic process, having been rejected twice by the legislature before it was finally passed. An effort to place HB 6 on the ballot as a referendum was undermined by those forces supporting this bill." - Gerry Kraus, East Walnut Hills

Gerry and her husband Marvin are longtime members and collaborators on many Cincinnati-based campaigns, including the Cincinnati Specialties good neighbor campaign, fixing Cincinnati's sewer system and securing curbside recycling.   

–– Letters to the Editor, Cincinnati Enquirer

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Timing key in consulting deal between FirstEnergy, regulator

Mar 17, 2021 3:01 PM

COLUMBUS –– "Documents subpoenaed by the FBI showed Randazzo had a significant role in writing the bailout bill.

Calendars obtained by the AP through a public records request further show that Randazzo met with Householder and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine at the Governor’s Residence for an 'energy discussion' in April 2019. That was less than two weeks after Randazzo had become PUCO chair and a day later the bailout bill was introduced. He also met in 2019 with both men’s policy advisers, as well as other administration officials.

DeWine’s office said in response to a separate records request that there was no further documentation of the meeting. The AP reported Dec. 10 that DeWine in early 2019 disregarded cries of alarm over Randazzo’s close ties to FirstEnergy before appointing him to the commission. DeWine has stood by the decision."

–– Mark Gillispie and Julie Carr Smyth, AP News

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FirstEnergy admitted to funding Generation Now in federal court

Mar 16, 2021 3:47 PM

Inch by inch, Ohio Citizen, the truth is revealed.

FirstEnergy admits that it is "Company A"

The Energy and Policy Institute announced on Friday that FirstEnergy admitted in federal court that it funded Generation Now, effectively confirming that it is "Company A" in the federal criminal case against former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.

This disclosure was in response to a class action RICO lawsuit filed by Ohio ratepayers.

The first time we saw this amazing graphic by The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, we thought it looked like a web, but an editorial by the Plain Dealer this Sunday brought the realization - they're tentacles.

The tentacles binding Gov. Mike DeWine to FirstEnergy run deep 

The Plain Dealer editorial board wrote, "the facts in this tangle of alleged pay to play, dark-money influence, political arm-twisting and a pipeline of utility favors extending from FirstEnergy’s Akron headquarters right into the heart of Ohio governance and regulation can’t be ignored."

The tentacles reach right into the Governor's residence. Public records obtained by the Associated Press show that Sam Randazzo, PUCO chair, met with Larry Householder and Governor Mike Dewine in April 2019. They met at Dewine’s residence for an “energy discussion” and House Bill 6 was introduced the very next day.

Eight months after FBI arrest legislators plan to debate whether Householder should remain in office

The House likely has the 66 votes needed to expel Householder, according to State Rep. Mark Frazier, R-Newark. 

House Republicans have 64 members – 63 if you take Householder out of the equation – which means at least three Democrats need to vote for expulsion. A spokesman for House Democrats said all 35 members would vote yes, so Republicans only need to bring 31 votes. We will be sure to let you know what happens.

Twin Ohio bills could thwart future solar and wind development

Mar 15, 2021 5:30 PM

OHIO –– "Senate Bill 52 and House Bill 118 expand on themes from a failed 2019 bill that would have let 8% of voters in an area demand a referendum after Ohio Power Siting Board approval of wind farm projects, thus delaying or effectively cancelling the projects.

'It’s HB 401 all over again, but now solar is included,' said Neil Waggoner, Ohio representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. 'It’s another attempt to really slow down or stop the investment in and transition to renewable energy in the state.'

The new bills would apply to solar and wind farms but not nuclear power plants or any kind of fossil fuel projects. Developers would have to give 30 days’ prior notice to local governments before filing with the power siting board for any new wind or solar project. The bills also would apply to most modifications, such as changes to spacing or height."

–– Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network 

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FirstEnergy pumped $1M into backing DeWine

Mar 06, 2021 3:58 PM

Turns out we were right all along about the culture of corruption that has long existed at utility-giant FirstEnergy Corporation. They have been up to no good.

The Dayton Daily News reported last night that FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy Solutions donated more than $1 million to dark money nonprofit groups and political campaigns since 2017 to help elect Governor Mike DeWine. 

FirstEnergy was able to contribute $500K to help elect Mike DeWine, and nearly $2 million to Larry Householder’s dark money group but needed a bailout from Ohio consumers?

This goes even deeper than campaign contributions

You may remember that back in November 2020, a FirstEnergy disclosure showed that a $4 million payment was made to an unnamed individual who would become a high-ranking state regulator, supposedly to end a longstanding consulting agreement. In the same week, former Public Utilities Commission Chairman Sam Randazzo’s home was raided by the FBI, and he resigned his position with the PUCO.

As details from that FirstEnergy filing continue to come to light, we now see that the individual acted at the request or for the benefit of FirstEnergy as a consequence of receiving such payment.  Emails obtained by the FBI also show that Randazzo helped write House Bill 6 while leading the PUCO.

He was working on legislation that would have benefited FirstEnergy to the tune of $1 billion while serving as the state’s top utility regulator

The time has come to end the culture of corruption in Ohio perpetuated by big utilities that flex their political muscle and hand-pick their own regulators.

Work begins on controversial Hamilton County Duke Energy pipeline

Mar 06, 2021 11:53 AM

CINCINNATI –– "Once completed, the pipeline will span 13 miles from Golf Manor to Sycamore Township's northern annex adjacent to Sharonville. The pipeline will also run through neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Amberley Village, Evendale, Blue Ash, Reading and Sharonville.

Work began Monday at the pipeline's northern terminus after years of pushback from neighbors who live along the route, as well as from county leaders. In 2016, then-Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune called the pipeline a bad idea.

'They're bad for Hamilton County. They're bad for the neighborhoods they run through. They're bad for Duke (Energy),' he said."

–– Mariel Carbone, WCPO Cincinnati

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Mailbag: A timeline of Speaker Cupp’s inaction on removing Householder from office

Mar 02, 2021 8:02 PM

Columbus (OCJ) ––

"Feb. 10, 2021:

Local elected officials from Householder’s district write a letter to Cupp asking that Householder be removed from office. The letter is signed by Coshocton County officials from both political parties, The Coshocton Tribune reports.

'These are very serious allegations that cast a shadow on the institution of the House and Representative Householder’s integrity. The United States Constitution guarantees citizens a fair trial and a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This is a key pillar of our judicial system,” the letter states. “That said, holding an elective office is not a right, it is a privilege and a sacred trust. The State of Ohio deserves to proceed with the work of the people and it is clear to us that Representative Householder cannot effectively serve the interests of Coshocton County while the criminal charges are ongoing.'"

–– Tyler Buchanan, Ohio Capital Journal

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It shouldn’t take a New York pension fund to force FirstEnergy political spending more into the open

Mar 02, 2021 7:46 PM

Cleveland –– 

"One of the country’s largest pension funds just did what Ohio regulators and lawmakers haven’t managed to do -- force Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to open up more of its political spending to public scrutiny.

The disclosures -- to be made twice annually on the FirstEnergy website until May 2024, and to be revisited at that time -- don’t include lobbying expenditures. It’s unclear to what extent they’ll cover dark-money spending.

Full transparency is still up to Ohioans to demand -- and Ohio lawmakers to deliver.

Among reforms needed: required disclosure of the recipients of dark-money contributions and tight lobbying transparency requirements, as well.

Also needed is a change in the multiplicity of ways that utilities now can grease the political wheels in Ohio. Such spending has helped ensure the primacy of favored electric utilities like FirstEnergy, both in Ohio law and policy -- and doomed solar and wind energy producers to struggle against political headwinds if they wanted to operate in Ohio.

No more.

All Ohioans deserve far more transparency than they’re getting on corporate and utility spending for political causes, candidates and lobbying."

–– Editorial Board, and The Plain Dealer

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Critics take aim at HB 6 coal subsidies

Mar 02, 2021 7:37 PM

COLUMBUS (OCJ) –– "Last summer, federal authorities arrested then-House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four associates in connection with the effort to pass HB 6. U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said it was  'likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme ever in the state of Ohio.'

Despite outrage over the scandal, the Republican-controlled legislature last year didn’t manage to send a repeal of HB 6 to Gov. Mike DeWine.

This year, however, efforts to repeal the nuclear bailout and FirstEnergy’s revenue guarantees appear to have momentum. One has passed out of committee and the other has passed the Senate.

But the three bills aimed at getting rid of the coal subsidies? Not so much. Each has been assigned to a committee, but none has had a hearing."

–– Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal (OCJ)

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