July 14, 2024

Ohio Gov and Lt. Gov are the latest to be subpoenaed in the state’s largest bribery scandal

Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor John Husted have been subpoenaed in a civil trial related to the class action lawsuit which previously led to the conviction of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder earlier this year. The plaintiffs have asked for a sworn deposition from Husted, and DeWine has been ordered to turn over relevant documents. 

The lawsuit alleges that members of DeWine’s administration, among other politicians, accepted bribes from FirstEnergy to bail out struggling nuclear power plants in northeast Ohio and gouging consumer prices. 

In 2018, FirstEnergy Solutions first announced its plan to close Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. At the time, Governor John Kasich told the company that the plants needed to work out their own plan for continued operation without aid from the state. 

In June of this year, Householder was sentenced to 20 years in prison for accepting $61 million in bribes. In exchange FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor were found to have received a $1.3 billion bailout. 

The money was found to have been directed to Householder’s 2018 campaign for State Representative, and subsequently Ohio House Speaker. In exchange, Householder passed House Bill 6, which included the aforementioned bailout to First Energy and its spin-off Energy Harbor. 

Ohio Capital Journal found in addition to the CEO and Vice President of FirstEnergy, Sam Randazzo was also guilty of wrong-doing. Randazzo received $4.3 million from bribes at the same time he was selected by Governor DeWine to be chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). 

In the position of PUCO chairman, Randazzo was in charge of regulating FirstEnergy, but he instead helped author H.B. 6 and circumvent a number of other legal and financial obligations. This includes an audit scheduled to take place in 2024. 

As a result, the court agreed to a $50 million settlement to be paid to any Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric or Toledo Edison members whose rates arose from the passage of H.B. 6 between Jan. 1, 2020, and June 22, 2022. However, the average settlement payment was just $15 according to NBC 5 Cleveland

Neither the governor or lieutenant governor are defendants in the case. Additionally Lt. Gov Husted has reportedly cooperated with the subpoena for his deposition scheduled to take place early next year. Gov DeWine’s office has also reportedly cooperated with supplying the subpoenaed documents. 

While DeWine and Husted have not been accused of anything, it was members of their administration and their appointees involved in the scandal. As a result, their limited involvement in the passage of H.B. 6 has been called into question. 

Despite the four criminal convictions which have already resulted in the trial, US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Kenneth Parker said the prosecution intends to continue the investigation. Parker has not indicated where the investigation has focused in light of the subpoenas. 

AP News has reported many members of the state legislature have supported repealing the bill or would not support it again if the bill were to be renewed. 

Author

  • Josie Speakman

    Josie is a first-year Political Science major with a Spanish minor on a Pre-Law track. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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