Toledo Blade: Governor’s integrity suspect

Since winning his first election as Clark County prosecutor in 1976 Gov. Mike DeWine has held Ohio political office nearly continuously.

But he still has a lot to learn according to the revelations in the 50-page indictment released recently by the Organized Crime Investigations Commission.

The task force probing for state law violations in connection to the FirstEnergy Bribery case that has already produced federal convictions of Former House Speaker Larry Householder and Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, brought multiple felony charges against former FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones, Lobbyist Michael Dowling, and former Public Utilities of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo.

Governor DeWine’s naivete, or worse, is revealed by the support for . Randazzo as PUCO chairman by FirstEnergy. Randazzo’s utility regulation experience was as a lawyer representing the Industrial Electricity Users of Ohio. Randazzo was hired by the largest Ohio manufacturers to represent them in negotiating against FirstEnergy. Advocacy for a Randazzo appointment by the utility he was opposing should have been highly suspicious to the long-experienced governor.

The state charges track what FirstEnergy has admitted to in a federal plea deal. Randazzo collected more than $22 million from FirstEnergy for colluding with the utility against the interests of his large manufacturing clients. Anyone smart enough to be governor should realize if Randazzo was serving his clients well he would have been the last man FirstEnergy wanted as PUCO Chairman. An email from First Energy CEO Jones to Randazzo on the morning after his dinner meeting with DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is unintentionally funny.

“When the Gov. Elect asked me about attributes I listed integrity,” the alleged briber said about the alleged recipient of the bribes.

If everyone is telling the truth the indictment reveals a heaping helping of incompetence behind the bribery conspiracy’s success. Randazzo told DeWine administration Chief of Staff Laurel Dawson that he had been paid $4.3 million by FirstEnergy as the final payment of a consulting contract. That payment was admitted to as a bribe to help FirstEnergy from his position at the PUCO in the utility’s federal plea deal.

It is a monumental failure by Ms. Dawson not to have told DeWine. She also claims to have kept a 198-page document from the governor detailing undisclosed financial ties between FirstEnergy and Randazzo prepared by Columbus attorney J.B. Hadden.