Gov. Mike DeWine has made his first public comments since last week’s plea deal from FirstEnergy in the federal corruption case involving the nuclear power plant bailout law known as House Bill 6.
DeWine was asked what he knew about the connection between the Akron-based utility and the person he appointed to head the panel that regulates utilities in Ohio.
In the agreement with federal prosecutors, FirstEnergy admitted that it paid more than $4 million to Sam Randazzo just before he became the Public Utilities Commission chair in January 2019. DeWine said several times that Randazzo’s work with FirstEnergy was known, but said he didn’t know about that $4 million payment.
“Everyone knew he worked for FirstEnergy. That was not a question," DeWine said. "He had, everyone also knew he had worked for a lot of different companies. He’d worked both sides of it. He’d worked for the utilities, he’s worked for the consumers.”
DeWine said he thought Randazzo’s working relationship with FirstEnergy was over and that Randazzo was retired. And he says he learned about the payment before Randazzo resigned after his house was raided by the FBI last fall.
Randazzo didn’t disclose his FirstEnergy work in his public testimony on House Bill 6 a few months after he appointed PUCO chair.
The documents attached to FirstEnergy’s plea deal include references to “state officials 1 and 2” as involved in Randazzo's appointment. DeWine says he’s read the documents but he’s not either of those unnamed officials.
“I would not recognize me from that, no," DeWine said. "I would not. No."
DeWine also said he’d donate around $100,000 that came to his campaign from FirstEnergy and its executives.
No charges have been filed against Randazzo.