CLEVELAND, Ohio –Sam Randazzo resigned in November as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. That was one day after FirstEnergy Corp. revealed that it fired CEO Chuck Jones and two other senior executives over a questionable $4 million payment to someone who fit Randazzo’s description, and four days after the FBI searched Randazzo’s Columbus home as part of the House Bill 6 bribery investigation.
Randazzo wrote a two-page resignation letter to Gov. Mike DeWine: “I believe my actions as Chair have done much to put the PUCO and OPSB on a better foundation to serve the public interest… In present times, when you, good sir, are valiantly battling to save Ohioans from the surging attack of COVID-19, there is no room or time for me to be a distraction… I regret that I must step away but it is the right and necessary thing to do.”
Read Randazzo’s full resignation letter below.
DeWine, who appointed Randazzo in February 2019, thanked Randazzo for his service. “He has done very, very good work as chair,” the governor told reporters then.
Now, new court filings confirm FirstEnergy officials say they paid a $4.3 million bribe to Randazzo in exchange for his help advancing the Akron-based company’s interest while he was serving as the state’s top utilities director.
Immediately before and after DeWine hired Randazzo as the state’s top utilities regulator, court filings say, Randazzo helped develop strategy and legal language for the House Bill 6 nuclear bailout law, which included a provision guaranteeing the company’s revenues at high 2018 levels, and also pushed to cancel a 2024 rate review case that the company believed would hurt its bottom line by saving consumers money.
DeWine had disregarded cries of alarm in early 2019 from consumer and environmental advocates, when he was considering Randazzo, the Associated Press reported in December.
“We understood that he had worked for manufacturing companies; we also understood that he had done work for FirstEnergy,” DeWine said. “Those were all things that we knew. He was picked because of his expertise and vast knowledge in this area. So that’s pretty much what we knew, so there was no secret.”
That was a month after agents were seen entering and exiting Randazzo’s home in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood, carrying out boxes and paper bags of records.
DeWine said following the FBI search that there was no indication Randazzo was under investigation.
“We’re waiting for additional information, quite candidly,” he said. “I hired him. I think he’s a good person. If there’s evidence to the contrary, then we’ll act accordingly. But I’m not going to act without facts.”