FirstEnergy Charged in HB 6 Bribery Scheme

Fallout from the House Bill 6 scandal continues as FirstEnergy this week agreed to a $230 million penalty for bribing former House Speaker Larry Householder and Sam Randazzo, the former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chair. According to the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Vipal Patel, this is the largest criminal penalty ever collected by his office.

Under the agreement reached with FirstEnergy, the utility cannot pass the costs of the fine onto customers. The $230 million fine will be split 50-50 between federal and state government. Meanwhile, Gov. Mike DeWine said he will donate FirstEnergy’s contributions to his campaign to charity in light of this week’s revelations.

Investigators say FirstEnergy and its affiliated companies conspired with public officials and others to pass the $1 billion, ratepayer-funded nuclear subsidies law. HB 6 also contained a profit-guaranteeing “decoupling” provision (worth an estimated $355 million through 2024).

As The Columbus Dispatch (subscription) reports, between 2017 and March 2020, FirstEnergy Corp. and FirstEnergy Solutions (now Energy Harbor) donated $59 million to Generation Now — a dark money group allegedly controlled by Householder.

The OMA Energy Group plans a deep dive on this development Tuesday, July 27. Contact the OMA’s Rob Brundrett with questions. 7/22/2021