COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio House Democrats called for more accountability Tuesday from Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, when it comes his administration's involvement in the passing of House Bill 6, the bill at the center of the federal racketeering investigation.
What You Need To Know
- Ohio Democrats are calling for more accountability of Gov. Mike DeWine on House Bill 6
- House Bill 6 is the bill at the center of the federal racketeering investigation
- Calls include wanting firings of personnel and renaming of professional stadiums
Representatives Jeffrey Crossman, D-Parma, and Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, who recently asked the governor to produce documents about communication his office had in the passage of the $1 billion dollar nuclear bailout to FirstEnergy, were told by DeWine’s office there were none.
The duo, refusing to accept that response, said they will take further action.
"Lawsuits are on the table. We have a right to do it,” said Crossman. “There's an available remedy and we have a cause of action should we choose to pursue it. Look, they're just not being forthcoming. They're not being truthful. We asked them to be transparent. They're lying to the public when they say they are being transparent and the governor's failing Ohioans when he's lying and not being honest.”
A DeWine spokesperson said the governor's office has been "fully responsive" to the requests and that the requests themselves are a "fishing expedition that are not supported by the facts."
Crossman and Weinstein also renewed calls for DeWine to fire his former chief of staff and current counselor, Laurel Dawson.
Weinstein said Dawson ignored a dossier she received in 2019 warning her of Sam Randazzo's ties to FirstEnergy before she and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, R-Ohio, recruited Randazzo to be the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Dawson was also told Randazzo received more than $4 million from FirstEnergy weeks before his house was raided by the FBI, but did not tell DeWine until that day. FirstEnergy admitted that was a bribe.
"She's still getting paid by the taxpayers while the bill that she helped pass is costing us $10,000 every hour to bailout coal plants, one of which is in Indiana,” said Weinstein. “We're going to continue to shed light on this. I'm going to reiterate my calls for her to step down or resigned, be fired, I don't care. She does not deserve a taxpayer-funded job for one more minute.”
Crossman and Weinstein previous called on DeWine's former Legislative Affairs Director Dan McCarthy to be fired. He resigned Friday. McCarthy, a former FirstEnergy lobbyist, was president of a dark money group that gave money to former Speaker Larry Householder's, R-Glenford, dark money group Generation Now that pleaded guilty to racketeering.
Neither Dawson nor McCarthy have been charged with a crime.
At the same news conference Tuesday, Rep. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, called on the PUCO to investigate whether FirstEnergy used any of the bailout money it received from House Bill 6 to pay for its stadium naming rights deal with the Cleveland Browns. Smith also said the Browns should remove FirstEnergy's name from its stadium amidst the federal probe.
The company agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement and paid a $230 million fine for the role it said it played in the passage of House Bill 6.
"This scandal has far-reaching tentacles it seems throughout Capitol Square and we're asking for accountability not just from elected officials who should be serving taxpayers but FirstEnergy and the Cleveland Browns," said Smith.
In 2013, FirstEnergy signed a 17-year $102 million dollar deal to put their name on the Browns' stadium. Spectrum News reached out to the Browns for comment but did not receive a response.