In a Wednesday press release, a former U.S. Congressman and current gubernatorial candidate slammed incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R) for allegedly turning a blind eye to warning signs regarding the former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) who was part of the FirstEnergy corruption scandal.
“Why did Mike DeWine ignore a 200-page warning about Sam Randazzo’s unethical behavior and appoint him to lead the Public Utilities Commission anyway?” said Jim Renacci in the release. “What else did DeWine know about FirstEnergy’s scandalous corruption? There are still several unanswered questions about this scheme that frauded Ohio taxpayers. With every new court filing, news report, or resignation, the FirstEnergy noose keeps tightening around Mike DeWine. Enough is enough: conservatives have a chance next month to vote for real accountable conservative leadership and put an end to Mike DeWine’s 40-year corrupt establishment career.”
The comments came on the heels of a news story published in The Ohio Capital Journal claiming that DeWine was in possession of a 198-page dossier “alleging Sam Randazzo – a lawyer and lobbyist who represented gas companies and industrial scale electricity buyers – used businesses registered in his name to ‘funnel’ money from FirstEnergy to buy real estate.”
The dossier was in DeWine’s hands two years before FirstEnergy admitted to paying a $4.3 million bribe to PUCO, and just months before DeWine selected Randazzo to head PUCO. The selection committee for the PUCO job, which recommended four Randazzo and three other candidates, was reportedly chaired by a PUCO lobbyist.
In August, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) added Randazzo, along with now-fired First Energy executives Charles Jones and Michael Dowling to a civil racketeering lawsuit related to the corruption.
That was only weeks after the criminal matter was settled when First Energy, now bankrupt, agreed to pay $230 million fine to avoid prosecution by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a July press conference, Renacci demanded that DeWine provide details of his administration’s knowledge and involvement in the scandal.
“DeWine has contributed to a culture of corruption where sweetheart deals and bribes are normal in Columbus,” he said at the time. “He and members of his administration have been at the center of this scandal, yet they have refused to come clean about their involvement.”
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