Governor was warned of would-be regulator's ties to utility

"This undated photo provided by the Ohio Governor's Office shows Sam Randazzo, of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine disregarded warnings from consumer and environmental advocates and a last-minute plea from Republican insiders in selecting the powerful top Ohio utility regulator now under legal and financial scrutiny. Randazzo, who DeWine picked to lead the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, had deep ties with the state's largest electric utility and proven hostility to wind and solar power development that made him unsuitable for the role, critics warned. Nearly two years later, after an FBI search of Randazzo's home and revelations the utility, FirstEnergy Corp., paid him millions for consulting, DeWine seems unfazed by the selection. (Courtesy of Ohio Governor's Office via AP, File)"

COLUMBUS — "Gov. Mike DeWine disregarded cries of alarm in early 2019 from consumer and environmental advocates, concerns echoed in a previously undisclosed last-minute plea from GOP insiders, when he was selecting the state’s top utility regulator — a man now under scrutiny as a wide-ranging bribery and corruption investigation roils Ohio.

Nearly two years later, the Republican governor continues to defend his choice of Samuel Randazzo as the powerful chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and many of those early critics insist it was a mistake to disregard their concerns.

'We understood that he had worked for manufacturing companies; we also understood that he had done work for FirstEnergy,' DeWine said this week in an interview with Associated Press reporters. 'Those were all things that we knew. He was picked because of his expertise and vast knowledge in this area. So that’s pretty much what we knew, so there was no secret.'

Randazzo, 71, had deep business ties with the state’s largest electric utility and had long been hostile to the development of wind and solar power, making him unsuitable for the role, critics warned early on."

— Mark Gillipsie and Julie Carr Smyth, AP News

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