Four Candidates Make The List To Replace PUCO Chair Who Resigned Last Month

Dec 22, 2020

The list of possible successors to take over as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has been narrowed to four. One will succeed Sam Randazzo, who resigned last month after a federal filing from FirstEnergy noting an improper $4 million payment to an entity associated with someone who became a state regulator.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Nominating Council has submitted four names from a list of interested candidates to Gov. Mike DeWine to replace Randazzo. They are Angela Amos, Anne Vogel, Greg Poulos and Judith French.

Randazzo resigned after news of the FirstEnergy SEC filing, which came not long after Randazzo's home was raided by the FBI.

Some advocacy groups want more information about those candidates.

Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer is among those asking for the four nominees for chair to voluntarily disclose all work they have done with utilities, their consultants, and lobbyists over the past decade.

“So that we do not end up with yet one more commissioner on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that is so closely tied to utilities because Ohioans deserve better," Turcer said in a City Club of Cleveland forum.  "So many of us are really struggling to pay our utility bills. And these folks are supposed to not just think about the future of the businesses around Ohio, but they should be thinking about us. They should be focusing on consumers."

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French is the best known of the four candidates. She's leaving the bench after being defeated by Jennifer Brunner.  On the Supreme Court, French has heard several cases involving utilities, including the 2019 ruling blocking $200 million in charges FirstEnergy customers had paid for two years, saying the PUCO improperly allowed it to go forward. 

Separately, three former PUCO commissioners are also asking for a full PUCO investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing by FirstEnergy. That utility is also widely believed to be the company involved in an alleged $61 million nuclear bailout law bribery scandal, along with former House Speaker Larry Householder and four others.

Two of those charged, Jeff Longstreth and Juan Cespedes, have changed their not guilty pleas.