State Watch

Ohio Democratic Party sues Gov. DeWine over redacted nuclear records

The Ohio Democratic Party announced a lawsuit Thursday against Gov. Mike DeWine (R), alleging redactions in the governor’s public schedule is a violation of the state’s public records law.

The Democrats have alleged that the redactions may be evidence that DeWine was connected to a bribery scandal that involved a top Republican in the state legislature and the chair of the Public Utilities Commission in Ohio.

Electric company FirstEnergy admitted in July to a bribery scheme involving members of the Ohio government. The company paid a $230 million fine in connection to the case.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R) was arrested in 2020 for passing legislation favored by FirstEnergy, including House Bill 6, in exchange for the company’s funding of a 501(c)4.

FirstEnergy also paid $4 million to Sam Randazzo before he was appointed by DeWine to the position of chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The Ohio Democratic Party’s lawsuit, filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, aims to glean an explanation of the redactions made to public records from DeWine’s office in light of the FirstEnergy scandal.

Parts of the schedule have been redacted throughout DeWine’s time in office since January 2019, according to Cleveland.com.

One calendar entry shows that DeWine met FirstEnergy lobbyist Mike Dowling in June 2019, the month before DeWine signed the energy bill into law.

House Bill 6 created the Ohio Clean Air Program, which provided $2 billion of financial assistance to two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy through a subsidiary.

DeWine repealed the $2 billion in March 2021 after Householder’s arrest for his alleged involvement in the bribery scandal in 2020.

“We’re not going to let Mike DeWine stonewall his way out of responsibility for this scandal,” Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters said in a statement announcing the party’s lawsuit. “Ohioans are looking for justice, and we’ll work to get it for them however we can. We’re also offering a better way forward: cleaning up corruption and putting working families first.”

DeWine’s office said that the state Democratic Party has a “history of mischaracterizing” the results of public records requests, according to WOUB.

“The Ohio Democratic Party has a history of mischaracterizing the results of public records requests, particularly in election years. The truth is the ODP has been provided thousands of pages of records in response to their requests. This is nothing more than a fishing expedition in a lake that has no fish.”

“Governor DeWine is one of the most transparent public officials in Ohio, and no Governor has ever been more accessible to media than Mike DeWine. If the ODP wants to argue otherwise, good luck to them, because they are dead wrong,” the statement concluded, according to WOUB.

Tags bribery scheme clean air bill H.B.6 Larry Householder Mike DeWine Mike DeWine Ohio Democratic Party

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