Gov. Mike DeWine defends appointing official connected to FirstEnergy bribery scandal

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

FILE – This April 4, 2017, file photo shows the entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. A nuclear plant bailout law should be repealed immediately, Democratic members of the Ohio House announced Wednesday, July 22, 2020, as a bribery scandal involving one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers unfolded over the law’s passage. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine responded Thursday after a person he appointed to state office was linked to the FirstEnergy bribery scandal.

Sam Randazzo is believed to be one of two public officials mentioned in court documents who received money from FirstEnergy through a dark money group in exchange for support of House Bill 6, a $1 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants.

Sam Randazzo

DeWine appointed Randazzo as chairman of PUCO, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, in 2019. Randazzo resigned in November after the FBI searched his German Village residence, but no charges have been filed against him — like they have against FirstEnergy and five individuals.

In a statement, DeWine said:

“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 First Energy. 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 First Energy, his motives were not known by me or my staff.

“In light of today’s admission by First Energy, the campaign will make a monetary donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs in the amount First Energy contributed to the campaign committee.”

Randazzo and former House Speaker Larry Householder are believed to be the two people referenced in court documents Thursday. FirstEnergy is cooperating with a Department of Justice investigation and has agreed to pay a $230 million fine.

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