COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he saved Ohioians nearly $ 2 billion over the life of the House Bill 6 nuclear rescue act through a series of lawsuits and other legal actions over the past year.
A year ago this week, the state’s chief prosecutor began to systematically detail “the corruption built into Bill 6 to prevent FirstEnergy Corp.”
“I have used, and will continue to seize, all the tools at the disposal of this office to dismantle this illegal bill and hold accountable those who were part of the unholy alliance,” Yost said Thursday. “Corruption has no place in Ohio, and it will be stopped at every turn – no matter who is involved.”
House Bill 6 was enacted in 2019 to raise $ 1.3 billion from “taxpayers” – Ohio residents – to subsidize two Ohio nuclear power plants owned by Energy Harbor, which was previously part by FirstEnergy.
The bill is at the center of a federal corruption case involving FirstEnergy, former Ohio House chairman Larry Householder, and their accomplices.
“I wanted to send a message that the consequences of political corruption are so high that no one tries again,” Yost said. “Political corruption doesn’t happen without private money – the person who pays is just as guilty as the person who receives.”
He brought a civil action against FirstEnergy, Householder and their known accomplices, seeking, he said, to right “the damage they have caused Ohio and to seek their personal profits through the scheme.”
The lawsuit marked the start of a series of lawsuits filed by Yost over the past 12 months aimed at ending FirstEnergy’s cash grab.
Yost also blocked FirstEnergy from collecting nuclear bailout money from residents, which would have provided Energy Harbor with $ 150 million a year in excess profits.
Ten days before Ohioans began paying the money, a Franklin County judge upheld Yost’s injunction.
In January, Yost sought to freeze guaranteed profits provided to FirstEnergy under HB6 via a so-called “decoupling” endorsement.
The provision was intended to allow FirstEnergy to adjust its tariffs to ensure the company matched the record profits it made in 2018, a year of extreme cold and extreme heat in Ohio each year.
In response to Yost’s motion, FirstEnergy agreed to stop using the profit jumper, saving Ohio customers up to $ 1 billion through 2029, according to Yost.
“We had to stop the flow of money, which was the biggest part of the corruption,” Yost said. “You cut the hollow, you cut the corruption.”
In July, First Energy admitted in court records that it had paid $ 61 million into an account Householder controlled to switch to HB 6. The company agreed to pay a $ 230 million fine and plead guilty to a charge of wire fraud.
Federal investigators also announced that FirstEnergy admitted paying Sam Randazzo, the former chairman of the Ohio Utilities Commission, who resigned after the FBI raided his home in Columbus last year, a pot – $ 4.3 million in wine in 2019, just weeks before Governor Mike DeWine appointed him state utilities. regulator.
Yost said he learned that Randazzo was unloading properties, selling four with a combined value of almost $ 5 million and transferring a house worth more than $ 500,000 to his son for free.
He has received a court order ordering him to freeze nearly $ 8 million of Randazzo’s assets to hold them for possible state collection while the federal criminal investigation continues.
Randazzo has not been charged with any foul play and has denied any wrongdoing.
Pending the completion of the criminal proceedings, Yost’s civil case continues through informal fact-finding and defense of Randazzo’s appeal.
Yost says he is also monitoring the actions and assets of those named as defendants in this case “to see if further action is needed to preserve the assets in order to make Ohio whole.”
Householder and another alleged co-conspirator, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, have pleaded not guilty to racketeering.
Their cases will be referred to Federal Court on October 5 for a status conference.
Two other people indicted in the scheme, its political strategist Jeff Longstreth and lobbyist Juan Cespedes, pleaded guilty last year to one count each of racketeering. They have not yet been sentenced.
Neil Clark, a GOP lobbyist, was also indicted but committed suicide in March in Florida.
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