Sam Randazzo resigns after FBI agents search his home and FirstEnergy reveals $4 million payment to a former consultant-turned-regulator
COLUMBUS -- "Federal prosecutors have made it clear that the utility and its affiliates are believed to be the source of $61 million funneled through a nonprofit group to maintain the alleged criminal conspiracy by Householder and four associates.
In his Friday resignation letter to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Republican who appointed Randazzo as PUCO chair in 2019, Randazzo wrote that these allegations and 'the accompanying publicity will, right or wrong, fuel suspicions about and controversy over decisions I may render in my current capacity.'
FirstEnergy’s 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission cited the $4 million payment as evidence that 'certain former members of senior management violated certain FirstEnergy policies and its code of conduct.' FirstEnergy’s board of directors fired CEO Charles Jones and two other senior executives in late October on the same grounds of violating policies and codes of conduct."
--Jeff St. John, Green Tech Media
COLUMBUS, Ohio--"Consumer groups Ohio Consumers Power Alliance and Ohio Citizen Action said they hoped Randazzo’s resignation and 'the cloud of corruption' that surrounded this week’s events would push legislators to repeal the nuclear plant bailout legislation known as House Bill 6.
'Sam Randazzo’s ties to FirstEnergy influenced decision after decision at the PUCO and sabotaged the growth of Ohio’s clean energy future,' Rachael Belz, who directs both organizations, said in a statement."
Today, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo resigned following a week that included an early morning FBI raid on his Columbus home and the disclosure by FirstEnergy that its CEO and others were fired for issuing a $4 million payment to an unnamed individual who was subsequently appointed to serve as a state public utility regulator.
Our organizations opposed the appointment of Randazzo from the beginning of the nomination process. His decades-long career as an anti-clean energy lobbyist and lawyer made him the wrong choice to oversee regulation of Ohio’s utilities and protect Ohio consumers.
Throughout the last several months, Randazzo claimed he had no ties to FirstEnergy, the corporation at the center of a $61 million bribery and corruption scandal that rocked Ohio in July. But bankruptcy filings told a different story, directly tying two companies owned by Randazzo, Sustainable Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU Administration Company, to FirstEnergy Solutions.
Sam Randazzo’s ties to FirstEnergy influenced decision after decision at the PUCO and sabotaged the growth of Ohio’s clean energy future. He was out of touch with what Ohioans want and did a great disservice to our state’s energy consumers. We deserve better. We deserve an energy policy that creates Ohio jobs, builds our economy at a time when we need it most, and reduces the pollution that impacts health. We deserve an energy policy that is not clouded by corruption and lies. And we deserve a PUCO Chairman that is free from these utility ties.
As the Ohio legislature continues to stall in repealing House Bill 6, it is our sincere hope that the resignation and cloud of corruption surrounding former Chairman Randazzo will be the push they need to finally end this cycle of deceit and erosion of confidence. We urge them to adopt a full repeal of House Bill 6 now and demonstrate the leadership this state so desperately needs.
Rachael Belz, Director of Ohio Consumers Power Alliance
COLUMBUS, Ohio - "The chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, whose home was searched by the FBI on Monday, was a no-show at Wednesday's commission meeting.
Beyond roll call, there was no mention of Sam Randazzo during PUCO's 10-minute meeting held online as the commissioners quickly went through their agenda."
--Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch
Gov. Mike DeWine says no indication that Sam Randazzo is a target after PUCO chairman’s home searched by FBI
COLUMBUS - "Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that although Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo’s home was searched by the FBI the day before, there’s no reason to believe Randazzo is under investigation by the FBI.
DeWine said Tuesday he had not spoken with Randazzo about the search at his home. He did not directly answer when asked if he felt comfortable with Randazzo continuing to serve in his position.
'We have no indication he’s under investigation or he’s the target of an investigation. We’ll wait until we find additional facts but we don’t have any indication of that at this point,' he said."
--Andrew Tobias, cleveland.com
COLUMBUS — "FBI agents executed a search warrant Monday morning at the German Village residence of PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo.
An FBI representative at the house, in the 600 block of South Grant Avenue, said agents were executing a federal search warrant for 'unauthorized legal activity.' A neighbor said agents arrived about 6 a.m."
--NBC4 staff, NBC4 WCMH-TV
The issue came up after FirstEnergy was linked to a bribery scandal involving former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder
COLUMBUS -- "The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) started the process Wednesday to audit FirstEnergy’s compliance with corporate separation laws and regulations.
The issue came up after FirstEnergy was linked to a bribery scandal involving former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
Householder and others are accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes to move along a nuclear energy bailout bill known as House Bill 6. The bill funneled state funds to two failing nuclear power plants. Those plants were managed by FirstEnergy.
Auditors will be reviewing corporate separation during the time period leading up to the passage of House Bill 6 and subsequent referendum efforts.
The audit should be done by April 21, 2021."
-- Patty Coller, WKBN