DeWine directs campaign to give FirstEnergy donations to Boys and Girls Clubs

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the amount contributed to his campaign from FirstEnergy to be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs after the utility agreed to a historic $230 million penalty to resolve federal charges that it was involved in a bribery scheme to pass a state bailout of nuclear power plants. FILE
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the amount contributed to his campaign from FirstEnergy to be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs after the utility agreed to a historic $230 million penalty to resolve federal charges that it was involved in a bribery scheme to pass a state bailout of nuclear power plants. FILE

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday directed his campaign to donate the amount FirstEnergy Corp. contributed to the committee to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

Federal prosecutors earlier on Thursday said the Akron-based utility will pay $230 million to resolve charges in what prosecutors called the largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the state to pass a bailout of nuclear power plants in Ohio.

ExploreRELATED: Statehouse bribery scheme: FirstEnergy $230M penalty historic

DeWine did not specify an amount.

An investigation of campaign finance and IRS records by this news outlet show that FirstEnergy pumped $1 million directly and indirectly to nonprofits and other campaigns aiding DeWine, who was elected in November 2018 and took office Jan. 14, 2019.

FirstEnergy executives, former executives, FirstEnergy Solutions executives, their relatives and the FirstEnergy Political Action Committee contributed $94,285 to the DeWine campaign committee in cash or in-kind assistance, records showed.

ExploreRELATED: FirstEnergy pumped $1M into backing DeWine, records show

The governor’s statement issued Thursday also mentioned the former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo, appointed by DeWine in February 2019 who resigned in November 2020 days after an FBI raid of his home. The PUCO regulates telecommunications, natural gas and electric companies in the state.

Randazzo has been heavily involved in Ohio energy policy for the past five decades. An attorney, Randazzo also owns a consulting business that did work for FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor, which is a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.

Top executives at FirstEnergy paid $4 million in early 2019 to end a consulting contract with someone subsequently appointed to be a full-time state regulator overseeing electricity distribution rates, according to a November 2020 company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Randazzo wasn’t mentioned by name in the document.

ExploreRELATED: FirstEnergy paid $4M to end a contract with an Ohio regulator, company says

“As I have consistently said, we understood that Sam Randazzo had worked for manufacturing companies, energy companies and consumers, and that he had done work for FirstEnergy,” DeWine stated “Sam Randazzo was a well-known subject-matter expert in energy issues.

“If, as stated in the court documents, Sam Randazzo committed acts to improperly benefit FirstEnergy, his motives were not known by me or my staff,” DeWine said.