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Ohio Democrats renew call for anti-corruption legislation

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(The Center Square) – The indictment of a former Ohio public official and two former FirstEnergy executives have House Democrats renewing their call for anti-corruption legislation that has received little attention in more than two years.

Former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo and former FirstEnergy executives Charles Jones and Michael Dowling turned themselves in Tuesday. They were booked and released on bail following a 27-count state criminal indictment.

In December, Randazzo was also indicted and pleaded not guilty to federal charges surrounding the House Bill 6 scandal.

The charges continue the fallout from the billion-dollar taxpayer bailout of the state’s nuclear energy companies that led to the largest corruption and bribery scandal in state history, federal prosecutors have said.

In January 2022, Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation to roll back HB6 and establish regulations to stop corruption throughout state government.

None of those bills has passed the Republican-majority General Assembly in the last two years.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, said Randazzo’s most recent indictment is a reminder that work still needs to be done to undo the scandal and address corruption.

“The announcement of these state indictments is long overdue and should be a sobering call to action for state officials to address the lingering political and consumer damage done by HB6 and the politicians who put bribes and illegal profits over the people,” Russo said. “As state legislators, we owe it to the people to make sure this scale of political corruption can never happen again and it’s beyond time for this General Assembly to take meaningful action.”

Democrats have introduced four bills, including two nearly a year ago, that deal with dark money groups, fully repealing the law and its taxpayer subsidies, toughening requirements to serve on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and refunding money to consumers if the Ohio Supreme Court determines utility money was wrongfully collected.

None of the bills have moved in the committee process.

As previously reported by The Center Square, Randazzo, Dowling and Jones face charges ranging from money laundering to theft, fraud, tampering with records and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, grand theft and bribery.

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