February 3, 2024 - Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a longtime ally of indicted former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chairman Sam Randazzo, says it’s time to repeal HB 6, the law that Randazzo helped write and which subsidizes two coal-fired power plants.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted
“I think that anything that was connected to House Bill 6 needs to be completely removed,” Husted told reporter Natalie Fahmy of WCMH. “The people who are accountable for it are being held accountable, some are already being convicted. We would all be better off if we just stripped everything.”
HB 6 was passed in 2019 after utility FirstEnergy led a $61 million campaign that bribed Ohio House speaker Larry Householder to pass the law. So far, Householder and former Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges have been convicted on federal bribery charges.
Randazzo, a coal industry lawyer who was appointed as PUCO chair in January 2019 by newly elected Gov. Mike DeWine, was indicted in December for accepting a $4.3 million bribe from FirstEnergy.
Law Subsidizes OVEC and Coal Company Allies
When first passed, HB 6 required Ohio ratepayers to pay a subsidy to keep FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants going as well as a subsidy for the two coal-fired power plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (OVEC), which is owned by FirstEnergy and a consortium of other utilities.
Indicted Former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo
Checks & Balances Project reporting has shown that one of the main beneficiaries of HB 6 was coal company Resource Fuels, which was overpaid for the coal it supplied OVEC’s Clifty Creek power plant.
Resource Fuels gave $100,000 to a political action committee tied to Husted – Ohio Conservatives for Change – in 2018. Resource Fuels’ owner, Wayne Boich, and his wife also gave $37,497 to the DeWine-Husted ticket in 2018.
The company also donated $250,000 to Generation Now, the dark-money political fund used to bribe Householder.
In 2022, texts revealed that Husted was a key ally in getting HB 6 passed. Husted told WCMH that he was only acting a middleman to relay information.
Husted has been subpoenaed to testify in a civil suit between investors and FirstEnergy.
Current Ohio House Speaker Opposed to Repeal
Rep. Jason Stephens, the current Ohio House speaker, said he was opposed to repealing HB 6.
“Every power plant we can have in Ohio, the better off we, as Ohioans, are going to be so we can continue to grow our economy,” Stephens said.
OVEC’s Kyger Creek power plant, one of the two supported by the HB 6 subsidy, is located in Stephens’ district.
Ray Locker is the executive director for Checks & Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.