Ohio Citizen Action Launches “Crime with DeWine”

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.”