FirstEnergy under the microscope over alleged ties to $60 million bribery scheme

Calls to repeal House Bill 6 after alleged bribery scandal between Ohio lawmakers and FirstEnergy

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - FirstEnergy will only say it is cooperating with a federal investigation that resulted in the arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four associates, related to a bailout of the Akron-based company’s nuclear power plants.

The investigation revealed a series of payments made, mostly from October of 2018 through October of 2019, from “Company A” to “Generation Now,” a social welfare organization that federal investigators say was orchestrated by Householder to help elect candidates to the Ohio House of Representatives, who in turn helped him win the speakership, eventually leading to the passage of House Bill 6.

Federal attorneys did name “Company A,” as it is referred to in the affidavit released on Tuesday, but it is widely believed to be FirstEnergy, and its subsidiaries.

The individual payments amount to nearly $60 million and range from a few thousand dollars to more than $4 million.

On Wednesday, 19 News asked the company’s public relations department directly if the company knew exactly what the money was being used for.

A spokesperson said there would not be an updated statement.

The company released a statement on Tuesday, in light of the bombshell allegations.

This afternoon, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) received subpoenas in connection with the investigation surrounding Ohio House Bill 6. We are reviewing the details of the investigation and we intend to fully cooperate.
FirstEnergy, Tuesday

“I want to know what did FirstEnergy know?” asked Neil Waggoner, of the Sierra Club. “What was FirstEnergy engaged in? Who were the people there approving those payments?”

Waggoner serves as the state representative for the environmental advocacy group’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

He told 19 News that the Sierra Club opposed House Bill 6 from the very beginning and is now renewing calls to repeal the legislation.

“Come January of 2021, everyone in this state is going to be paying more every single month to fund the results of a criminal enterprise,” he said, referring to a surcharge that’s set to kick in next year as part of the passage of the bill.

“Yes, this bill needs to be repealed,” wrote Jim Ventura on the 19 News Facebook page. “FirstEnergy customers need to see rebates of the money they were charged for electricity.”

On Wednesday, two house democrats announced they are introducing legislation to repeal the bill; two house republicans intend to introduce legislation to do so on Thursday.

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