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DeWine Denies Knowledge Of FirstEnergy Bribes

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during a public inauguration ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Columbus.
Ty Greenlees
AP/Dayton Daily News, Pool
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during a public inauguration ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Columbus.

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss FirstEnergy's admission that it paid $4.3 million to Sam Randazzo just before he became the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chair under Gov. Mike DeWine.

What Did He Know And When Did He Know It?

We learned this week that the governor knew about a $4.3 million payment FirstEnergy gave to Randazzo, but DeWine said he did not know of the payment until the FBI raided Randazzo’s condo in Columbus.

DeWine said it was common knowledge that Randazzo previously worked for First Energy, but that’s a claim some Statehouse Democrats contest.

While he evidently knew Randazzo had worked for FirstEnergy, DeWine said he didn’t know the $4.3 million payment was what FirstEnergy now admits was a bribe for Randazzo to help pass Ohio’s nuclear bailout law.

That law would have sent a FirstEnergy subsidiary more than a billion dollars in state subsidies.

That lack of knowledge could also explain why DeWine said in November, a full month after learning of the $4,3 million payment, that he had “no idea” why Randazzo’s house had just been raided by the FBI.

For his part, Randazzo continues to claim he did nothing wrong and he has not been charged with a crime.

Mask Up

It’s been nearly two months since Ohio required masks in public places, although “required” might be an overstatement when it comes to enforcement.

There’s a lot more chatter for bringing back facial coverings, especially in schools. Ohio’s largest teachers union wants them. Local health departments in several parts of the state agree, but DeWine isn’t budging, even though he keeps talking up the benefits of masks.

Snollygoster Of The Week

Senator Rob Portman was able to reach a compromise with Democrats on the infrastructure bill and that might be because he’s not running for re-election. After all,
it would be hard to run in a Republican primary on a platform of "I compromised with Joe Biden on a plan to spend $1 trillion."

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.