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Government/Politics

House Dems Seeking Inspector General Investigation Into DeWine Staff

The Perry nuclear power plant, one of two that will receive subsidies from House Bill 6.
Andy Chow
/

The request wants to find out if anyone in the administration had ties to the nuclear bailout bribery scandal.

Democratic state lawmakers are asking the inspector general to investigate certain members on Gov. Mike DeWine's staff.

Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) and Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) is asking the Ohio Inspector General to look into members of DeWine's staff who previously had ties to FirstEnergy. The request comes a month after the two legislators requested records from the administration and called on DeWine to fire two staff members, Dan McCarthy and Laurel Dawson.

The utility company has admitted to bribing the former PUCO chair and a former lobbyist has pleaded guilty in the racketeering case.

Weinstein says they want to find out if DeWine's administration played any role in the $60 million bribery scheme that allegedly helped pass HB6, the sweeping energy law. While the nuclear bailout subsidies portion of the law have been repealed, Weinstein says other provisions, such as subsidies for two coal plants, are still appearing on ratepayer electric bills.

"I feel like we are very far from accountability for them when everyday they're on the hook for huge elements of this law that we are still living under," says Weinstein.

Federal prosecutors say FirstEnergy sent millions of dollars to former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder in exchange for passing a bailout for two nuclear power plants owned by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary.

The House Dems have also asked the PUCO for an independent investigation into former PUCO chair Sam Randazzo. FirstEnergy says it paid Randazzo a $4.3 million bribe before he became chair. Randazzo, who has not been charged with a crime, says he was never asked and never agreed to exercising his authority as chair to help FirstEnergy.

DeWine's office says the insinuations laid out by Crossman and Weinstein "lack basis in reality or fact" and that none of the staff members listed by Crossman and Weinstein have been questioned, subpoenaed, or a person of interest in the federal case.

Last month, DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney said "McCarthy left his position prior to Householder becoming speaker, left prior to the introduction of House Bill 6. So the idea that he was involved in these activities is not supported by the timeline nor the facts."