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Rotunda Rumblings

Deaths hit high: The number of people who have died with coronavirus hit an all-time high in a single day Wednesday: 156. There’s now been a total of 6,274 deaths. The Ohio Department of Health reported 10,835 new cases to a total of 38,743, Laura Hancock reports.

Three more purple counties: “Lake, Lorain and Montgomery counties have moved to the highest coronavirus risk level – purple or level 4 — and Franklin County now enters its second week at purple,” Hancock writes. The counties “became purple because medical facilities saw increases in outpatient, emergency and general hospital visits by COVID-19 patients.”

Details, please: A federal bankruptcy judge has asked a law firm that represented FirstEnergy Solutions to answer questions about its efforts to pass House Bill 6, as well as other activities surrounding a $60 million bribery scandal. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the judge stated there is an apparent “nexus” between the Ohio Statehouse lobbying team for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and individuals and entities indicted in the HB6 scandal.

Downgraded: “FirstEnergy’s credit rating has hit below investment grade or “junk” status by the three big rating agencies; Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P,” writes Ohio Public Radio’s Andy Chow. “It’s another blow to the company that has experienced a tumultuous year after being linked to” the HB6 scandal.

He’s running: U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot announced Wednesday that “whatever happens with redistricting,” he will run for re-election in 2022. “The challenges we face as a community and as a nation are too important to back away from the fight,” the Cincinnati Republican wrote in a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed.

COVID cabinet case: Lori Criss, director of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, announced this week she has contracted the coronavirus, according to Randy Ludlow of the Columbus Dispatch. Criss is the second DeWine cabinet official known to have the virus, after state prisons director Annette Chambers-Smith.

Randazzo rewind? “The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is being asked to vacate actions it took related to FirstEnergy Corp. while former chairman Sam Randazzo was in charge and to hold new hearings,” the Toledo Blade reports. “The request was filed late Tuesday by the Environmental Law & Policy Center” after Randazzo resigned following an FBI raid of his home.

Long shot: DeWine isn’t giving up his fight to have state lawmakers pass his package of gun-reform proposals, even though chances are slim the measures will pass in lame-duck session. Chow has more.

Happy Thanksgiving! Capitol Letter will be back in your inbox Tuesday morning.

Buckeye Brain Tease

Question: Ohio ranked 10th in the nation last year in turkey production. How many million birds did Ohio farms produce? The winner will be the closest without going over. (Here’s a hint, the number-one state was Minnesota, which produced 40 million birds.)

Email your response to The first correct respondent will be mentioned in next week’s newsletter.

Thanks for responding to last week’s trivia question:

Voters elected the first woman to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1922 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated her as the first woman to a federal appeals court, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in 1934. Who is she?

Answer: Born in Salt Lake City, Florence Ellinwood Allen moved to Ohio to receive a college degree, but when she wanted to receive a law degree, she left the state because Western Reserve University didn’t admit women to law school at the time. She later returned to Ohio and became the state’s first female assistant county prosecutor (in Cuyahoga County). In 1920, she was the first woman elected to judicial office in the U.S. (the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court) before winning a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court and being appointed and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Sixth Circuit.

Capitol Letter reader Wes Retherford of Hamilton, a former state representative, was first to send in the correct answer.

On The Move

Jamie Carmichael has been hired by Gov. Mike DeWine to serve in the new position of chief health opportunity adviser at the Ohio Department of Health. Carmichael’s job will be to coordinate the administration’s efforts to help minority and other underserved communities fight the coronavirus.


Thursday 11/26: Senate President Larry Obhof, ex-state Rep. Heather Bishoff

Friday 11/27: Taylor Jach, Ohio House Republicans’ press secretary; ex-state Sen. Joe Uecker

Saturday 11/28: Liz Connolly, Ohio Senate Republicans’ deputy chief of staff; ex-state Rep. Jonathan Dever; Christina Polesovsky, associate director of API-Ohio

Straight From The Source

“It’s been one week since my daughter tested positive for #COVID19, and we still haven’t received a call from anyone from Ohio for contact tracing. Today, I’m trying to figure out whether anyone will ever call us and how many others are getting lost in the shuffle.”

– Columbus Dispatch reporter Anna Staver, tweeting on Wednesday.


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