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Ohio Democratic Party sues Gov. Mike DeWine for redacted records in FirstEnergy HB6 investigation

Democrats say they want "answers to who knew what and when about the FirstEnergy scandal – which Ohioans continue to pay $287,000 every single day for."

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's Note: The above video features previous reporting from 2021 on the FirstEnergy/HB6 bribery scandal

Frustrated by what it calls 'stonewalling' tactics from Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Democratic Party has announced that it has filed a lawsuit seeking redacted records from the governor's office regarding the FirstEnergy HB6 bribery scandal. 

According to a statement by the party, Democrats in Ohio have been working since October to get "answers to who knew what and when about the FirstEnergy scandal – which Ohioans continue to pay $287,000 every single day for."

Details of the $60 million bribery scheme created to give a $1 billion bailout for the state's two FirstEnergy nuclear plants came to light in July 2020 when then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, four associates and a dark money group were indicted on racketeering charges. Householder has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial in federal court.

In January of this year, the Ohio Democratic Party submitted an extensive public records request to the governor's office for documents ranging from communications between DeWine and FirstEnergy executives, to DeWine's daily calendar. Many of the dates and events that DeWine sent back were redacted. 

Other document requests were rejected by DeWine's legal counsel, asking for  "greater clarity regarding the records you seek so we can identify them."

“We know DeWine met with Mike Dowling and Chuck Jones, the two men named as ordering the FirstEnergy bribes. Now, he’s trying to hide behind illegal redactions so we can’t see who else he’s been meeting with. But that’s not all. We believe the other record requests rejected by DeWine were done so illegally. So today, we’re re-submitting those requests. If his administration continues to reject these requests, we’re prepared to sue on those, too,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters in a statement.

During a Zoom with reporters on Thursday, Ohio Democratic Attorney General canddiate Jeff Crossman and Auditor candidate Taylor Sappington announced that they had released the records and documents that had been turned over by DeWine. Click here to read them. 

You can watch Thursday's news conference below.

In a 2021 agreement with the Justice Department, FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million penalty after admitted it funneled $60 million into a nonprofit secretly controlled by Householder to pass House Bill 6. HB6 bailed out the Perry and Davis Besse nuclear power plants and was worth an estimated $1.3 billion to FirstEnergy. 

FirstEnergy also said it paid a $4.3 million bribe to Sam Randazzo, who served as Ohio's PUCO chairman. He resigned in November 2020, shortly after FBI agents raided his condominium and left with boxes of material. Randazzo has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

The Ohio Capital Journal and the Associated Press contributed to this story

Previous Reporting:

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