FirstEnergy CEO: We acted ethically

By Julie Washington - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

AKRON, Ohio — FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones, in addressing the statehouse scandal, told investors that the Akron company acted properly in supporting House Bill 6 and the nuclear industry in Ohio.

“This is a serious and disturbing situation,” Jones said during a teleconference call on Friday to update investors about company earnings and the investigation into Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. “Ethical behavior and upholding the highest conduct are foundational values for the entire FirstEnergy company and me personally.”

FirstEnergy strives to apply those values to all of its dealings, including participation in politics, he said.

“The facts will become clear as the (FBI) investigation goes forward,” Jones said. “We intend to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice investigation …. I believe that FirstEnergy acted ethically.”

A criminal complaint filed Tuesday accuses Householder and four others of taking $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy to secure legislation, House Bill 6, that would bail out the utility’s two nuclear plants in Ohio.

Neither the company nor Jones have been charged with a crime.

FirstEnergy is in discussions with the Justice Department lawyers and is cooperating fully with the investigation, Jones said during Friday morning’s quarterly earnings call with shareholders.

Jones defended FirstEnergy’s support for Ohio’s two nuclear energy plants, saying that they provide good jobs that are an important part of Ohio’s economic development efforts. It is in the best interests of the state and nation to keep sources of clean energy such as nuclear power, he said.

“At no time does our support for nuclear plants in Ohio interfere with or supersede our ethical obligations to conduct our business properly,” Jones said. He noted that House Bill 6 resulted in a rate decrease for Ohio residents.

During a question and answer session, Jones declined to comment when asked if he had prior knowledge of the FBI investigation.

By Julie Washington

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

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