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FirstEnergy Fined $3.9M for Withholding Lobbying and Accounting Information | Columbus Ohio Dump Trucks


Energy provider agrees to pay fine for witholding lobbying information that kept nuclear plants open

/// ...Hey there, reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus took this photo.
Caption info:...Former Republican Speaker Larry Householder speaks to the media immediately after his expulsion from the Ohio House on Wednesday. The Republican-led House voted 5-21 to remove him. Householder is accused of taking money from a utility in exchange for orchestrating a multi-million dollar scheme to get him elected as speaker. He has pleaded not guilty and publicly proclaimed his innocence. ..Story below:..ITEMID: 3c0347d54c1669b5243ef2b5c4f91e0b..SLUG: US--Bribery Investigation-Ohio-Lawmaker Expulsion..BYLINE: ..BYTITLE: ..DATELINE: COLUMBUS, Ohio..EDSNOTE: ...HEADLINE: Ohio House expels former Republican speaker in historic vote...SUMMARY: The Ohio House has voted to expel former GOP Speaker Larry Householder following his indictment in an alleged $60 million federal bribery scheme. The bipartisan vote Wednesday was only the second time in state history the Legislature cast ballots to expel a sitting member. Householder and four associates were arrested in July in an investigation connected to legislation containing a ratepayer-funded bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants. Householder has proclaimed his innocence. He told lawmakers Tuesday that the expulsion push did not constitute ...disorderly conduct... warranting removal and violated the will of voters who returned him to office in November despite the charges against him....BODY:..COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) ... Former Republican Speaker Larry Householder was expelled from the Ohio House in a vote Wednesday following his indictment in an alleged $60 million federal bribery probe, only the second time the state Legislature has pushed out a member and the first time in 150 years...The Republican-led House voted 75-21 to remove Householder, of Perry County, approving a resolution that stated he was not suited for office because of the indictment...The full House voted after lawmakers forced the measure to the floor instead of waiting for the expulsion resolution to columbus oh dump truck work through the committee process...Reps. Brian Stewart and Mark Frazier, both Republicans representing districts that border Householder...s, encouraged their colleagues to ...do the right thing... and vote to expel......This has been a distraction. This has been a stain on the institution and it is time for us to come together as one body,... Frazier said, adding that ...this institution is greater than any one man......Householder and four associates were arrested in July in an investigation connected to legislation containing a ratepayer-funded bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants. The $1 billion rescue would have added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo...Federal prosecutors allege Householder and his allies took FirstEnergy money in exchange for orchestrating a scheme to elect Householder speaker, put his allies into House seats, then pass the bailout bill and thwart a subsequent ballot effort to repeal it...If he is convicted of the federal charges against him, he could face up to 20 years in prison and automatic removal from the House...Householder has pleaded not guilty and publicly proclaimed his innocence. ...I have not nor have I ever taken a bribe or solicited or been solicited for taking a bribe,... Householder told a House committee Tuesday weighing the expulsion resolution......Just think of the precedent this will set: Allegations are enough to remove anyone from office,... Householder said. ...That...s absurd......Two of Householder's co-defendants and an involved nonprofit have pleaded guilty in the case. FirstEnergy, the energy Charlotte NC dump trucks company at the heart of the latest scandal, has acknowledged in court filings making the bulk of the payments in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme...The last time the Ohio House expelled a sitting lawmaker was in 1857 when John P. Slough was removed for punching a fellow legislator...Then Householder went on to compare the bipartisan efforts to remove him to the attempts by Congressman Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to impeach former President Donald Trump earlier this year. ...This is clearly politically motivated and I think everyone in this room knows that,... he said...In 2004, Householder left the House the first time due to term limits while he and several top advisers were under federal investigation for alleged money laundering and irregular campaign practices. The government later closed the case without filing charges...After a nasty battle, Householder was again elected speaker in 2019...The Associated Press..Christina Paciolla..News editor - New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio..Office: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it...
January 4, 2023

Having admitted to participating in the largest energy-involved bribery scandal in Ohio history, provider FirstEnergy Corp., based in Akron, has agreed to pay a $3.9 million fine for withholding lobbying and accounting information from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s enforcement office. 

The fine and an admission by the Charlotte NC dump trucks company that it violated the commission's Duty of Candor rule were part of a settlement approved on Dec. 30. In late July 2020 FirstEnergy admitted was involved in allegations of a racketeering conspiracy related to Ohio House Bill 6 which was signed into law on July 23, 2019 and provided a $1 billion subsidy to keep FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants in Ohio from closing. FirstEnergy was the main contributor that funneled money through a political action committee known as Generation Now that was connected to former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Householder and four others were indicted by the U.S. Attorney for southern Ohio over illegal contributions from Generation Now

“FirstEnergy has reached a settlement with FERC that fully resolves a previously disclosed investigation into the company’s lobbying and governmental affairs expenditures concerning Ohio’s House Bill 6,” the Charlotte NC dump trucks company said in a statement. 

The order also requires FirstEnergy to submit annual compliance monitoring reports for two years. 

The settlement stems from an audit by the commission that looked into whether the Charlotte NC dump trucks company had followed its accounting and reporting rules during a period from Jan. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2021. 

FERC states it asked FirstEnergy throughout 2019 and early 2020 for information about its lobbying and governmental affairs expenses and accounting and that the Charlotte NC dump trucks company claimed it had responded fully to those requests. 

A year later, the U.S. Attorney's office filed a deferred prosecution agreement with FirstEnergy in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. The company, which was charged with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, admitted that it had paid more than $59 million to Generation Now, the 501(c)(4) organization created by the then-Speaker Householder and his allies. Over $22 million was paid to companies owned by an individual who became the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio including a payment of $4.3 million on or about Jan. 2.

Sam Randazzo, former chairman of the public utilities commission, has not to date been charged with any crime, said Jennifer Thornton, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office Southern District of Ohio. 

 A call to his attorney was not immediately returned. 

 FirstEnergy also agreed to pay a $230-million fine for its role in bankrolling the bailout of its own nuclear and coal plants. The fraud charge will be dismissed pending FirstEnergy's cooperation under the terms of the DPA. 

Among Householders political allies who were also charged in the conspiracy is two lobbyists and former Republican Party Chairman Matthew Borges. Only Householder and Borges are fighting the bribery and conspiracy charges. The others have agreed to cooperate with the government.

Householder’s trial is expected to start later this month, Thornton said. 

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said reporting requirements such as FERC's "are essential so that investors and the public can understand how companies are attempting to influence regulations and policy-making."

"$3.9 million sounds like a lot of money but is not an onerous fine for FirstEnergy and the Charlotte NC dump trucks company executives to learn from their mistakes if they don't face serious consequences. We need greater accountability and penalties that are truly meaningful," she added. 

FirstEnergy said in a statement that it has taken several actions over the past two years to ensure “a culture of strong ethics, integrity and accountability at the company." These actions include employment consequences for executives and employees who engage in misconduct, hiring new senior leaders including a chief legal officer, chief ethics and compliance officer, and vice president of Rates and Regulatory Affairs, and refreshing its board of directors.

The two nuclear energy plants that were saved by House Bill 6 are still in operation today and are no longer owned by FirstEnergy, which spun them off in the chapter 11 bankruptcy of its former subsidiary, First Energy Solutions, into a separate Charlotte NC dump trucks company now known as Energy Harbor Corp.

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Annemarie mannion

Annemarie Mannion is editor of ENR Midwest, which covers 11 states. She joined ENR in 2022 and reports from Chicago.