How Ohio can rebuild public trust after corruption scandal

Not so quick, FirstEnergy. Your contrition and $230 million plea deal might satisfy shareholders, but it’s far from the end of your embarrassing saga and the need for significant political reforms in Ohio. 

The Akron-based utility that spans five states formally admitted Thursday to bribing state leaders to pad its bottom line at the expense of all Ohio ratepayers. The company agreed to pay a $230 million fine, with $115 million earmarked for helping people pay their utility bills. Ratepayers can’t be assessed the cost. 

Timeline:Selling out in the Statehouse

Shareholder lawsuits bolstered by Thursday’s criminal admissions and possible Securities and Exchange Commission and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio enforcement actions still cloud FirstEnergy’s future. Its reputation remains tarnished by the outright greed of its former leaders in their pursuit of a $1 billion taxpayer bailout for two nuclear plants and special “decoupling fees” through House Bill 6 and cancellation of a scheduled 2024 PUCO review that could have reduced rates. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal Patel holds a press conference in downtown Cincinnati to announce FirstEnergy had agreed to pay $230 million penalty for bribing former House Speaker Larry Householder, among others on July 22. At left is FBI Special Agent in Charge, Chris Hoffman.

Text messages from those executives paint a disturbing picture of how they used millions of dollars to purchase the influence of indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, and former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo, who resigned last year after his house was raided by the FBI.

There’s no reasonable doubt that FirstEnergy was running the Ohio Statehouse for years only to be thwarted by a tip federal prosecutors turned into our state’s largest public corruption case. 

They came very close to stealing your money. 

Corruption plea:FirstEnergy $230 million payment and deferred prosecution agreement: What you need to know

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