The search came nearly four months after the FBI arrested then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others in connection to a $60 million bribery scheme funded by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., which was seeking a $1 billion legislative bailout for its two aging nuclear power plants in the state.
Householder and four others were subsequently indicted on racketeering charges in federal court. Householder has pleaded not guilty. Two of the men indicted with Householder have pleaded guilty to charges. The FBI would not say whether Monday’s search was related to that bribery probe.
A coalition of consumer and environmental groups on Tuesday called on DeWine to immediately remove Randazzo from the PUCO, citing his “well-known” ties to FirstEnergy. The governor has the sole authority to remove PUCO commission members.
“We have adamantly opposed Randazzo’s appointment since February 2019. He does not hold an elected position, so the power to remove him rest squarely on the shoulders of the governor,” the coalition said in a joint statement.
The groups, including Ohio Citizen Action, Black Environmental Leaders, Evangelical Environmental Network and Moms Clean Air Force, said Randazzo can’t oversee utilities in a fair and ethical way if he is being investigated by the FBI.
On Monday, a former chair of the Ohio Republican Party who is among those charged in the alleged bribery scheme, denied wrongdoing in an interview.