Activists ask Ohio’s attorney general to scrap FirstEnergy’s business license over HB 6 scandal

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — A coalition of environmental, good government and community activists are making a request of Ohio’s attorney general that has little hope of success: get rid of FirstEnergy to hold it accountable for the House Bill 6 scandal.

A group of people holding signs calling for punishing FirstEnergy march on the sidewalk near the Statehouse.
Members of the FirstEnergy Accountability Coalition march outside the Statehouse, on their way to Attorney General Dave Yost’s office. [Karen Kasler | Statehouse News Bureau]
The FirstEnergy Accountability Coalition says AG Dave Yost can revoke the utility’s corporate charter because it admitted bribing former House speaker Larry Householder and former public utilities chair Sam Randazzo to get the billion-dollar bailout in House Bill 6 passed.

“It only makes sense that Ohioans have the right to dissolve corporations because we are the ones who chartered them,” said Sandy Bolzenius with Central Ohio Move to Amend, which opposes the concept that corporations spending money in elections is protected free speech. “Corporations exist because we allow them to exist.”

The group says corporate charters have been revoked several times in Ohio history. The coalition includes people from Save Ohio Parks, the Ohio Nuclear Free Network, the Ohio Green Party

Yost’s office declined to meet with the group, citing ongoing litigation. Yost filed a civil suit in 2020 to block $150 million in charges from going to Energy Harbor, the FirstEnergy subsidiary that owned Ohio’s two nuclear power plants. The suit also asks for FirstEnergy to be dissolved or reorganized.

Yost also filed a 27-count indictment against two former FirstEnergy executives and the state’s former public utilities commission chair in February. Chuck Jones and Michael Dowling have pleaded not guilty and have asked a judge to dismiss the case. Former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chair Sam Randazzo died by suicide last month.

Two Ohio Senate Democrats have also proposed a resolution to push back on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling on the free speech rights of corporations. Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) sponsored Senate Resolution 180 to call on lawmakers to “support an amendment to the United States Constitution that would abolish corporate personhood and the doctrine of money as speech.”

“The ongoing FirstEnergy bribery and money laundering scandal indicates the pressing need for this legislation,” said Smith.