Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Toledo Blade. June 19, 2024.

Editorial: DeWine scandal

As documents from the discovery process in shareholder suits against FirstEnergy bring the bailout bribery scandal closer to Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio's chief executive claims a 45-year history without personal scandal to defend his integrity. ( "DeWine doesn't recall FirstEnergy texts," Tuesday )

But scandal will surely be the defining issue of Mike DeWine’s political career. Somehow despite that long career the governor can’t rouse himself to propose any reform following the worst public corruption scandal in modern state history.

Convicted and imprisoned former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder based his defense against charges that FirstEnergy campaign cash was collected with guarantees of support for the bailout of the utility’s financially failing nuclear power plants as “business as usual.”

Federal prosecutors validated Householder’s premise that business at the Statehouse was basically a policy bazaar with purchases paid through undisclosed political non-profits. Prosecutors asked for the longest possible sentence for Householder as the only deterrent to open corruption in Columbus.

Text messages from Governor DeWine to FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones from October of 2018 show Mr. DeWine seeking a big campaign contribution from the company. Three days later FirstEnergy sent $500,000 for Mr. DeWine to a dark money political nonprofit controlled by the Republican Governors Association.

Mr. DeWine says he can’t remember the conversation with Mr. Jones. But between the governor, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, and Mr. DeWine’s daughter Alice, a candidate for Greene County prosecutor, FirstEnergy provided more than $4 million.

Mr. DeWine appointed a FirstEnergy favorite, Sam Randazzo, as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Mr. Randazzo committed suicide in April after being charged with taking a $4.3 million bribe to help FirstEnergy.

But for the federal charges and subsequent shareholders suit digging up the facts behind the FirstEnergy bailout, Ohioans would have no knowledge of how business is usually conducted at the Statehouse.

From the moment the FirstEnergy scandal broke, prosecutors said it would not have been possible without the ability to keep money flows secret through the use of political nonprofits created for that purpose.

Ohio could require disclosure of the source of these dollars in state, local and ballot issue campaigns. Voters in Arizona took it upon themselves to initiate this reform with a citizens campaign.

Given the corruption in Ohio you would think a best-in-class disclosure law would be a high priority. Merely following the Arizona model and increasing the financial disclosure penalties to reflect the unreported personal income pocketed by Householder and Randazzo, would be a major improvement to scandalously weak current law.

Governor DeWine’s personal legacy is tied to scandal whether he admits it or not. Mitigating the damage with laws that penetrate the source of funds is the very least he can do.


Youngstown Vindicator. June 21, 2024.

Editorial: Big tech should look to all areas of Ohio

A big tech company is making another big announcement about investing in central Ohio. Good news. But even better news is Ohioans and their public officials are starting to figure out what that really means.

Upon Google’s announcement it would be investing another $2.3 billion into its data centers in New Albany, Lancaster and Columbus, WBNS-TV noted the data centers consume immense amounts of electricity without creating a large number of jobs, once construction is finished.

“Every sector of our economy is going to rely on some form of digital interface with cloud computing. The home of that right now in the Midwest is central Ohio,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said, according to the WBNS report. “We just need to keep up with the infrastructure. It creates huge energy demands, water demands. We have to do this in a sustainable way.”

After appearing to understand the need to ride this wave sustainably, Husted turned right around and told WBNS it will not be possible to make up for the demand on the grid with solar and wind energy. Fossil fuels and nuclear power will be necessary.

Google said it wants its data centers to be on carbon-free energy by 2030. One has to wonder whether they and Husted understand how near that is.

But so far as working toward energy efficiency and clean technologies, one also has to wonder whether Google would take a page from a smaller player’s book. Surely SAI.TECH’s Organization of Clean Energy and Climate, and its Computing Heat Recycle Center Education Program could teach the folks at Google a thing or two.

So far, the tech investment boom has branched very little from that “Columbus Cloud Region” of which the politicians are so proud. It’s time they look to other corners of the state where big ideas are hatching, too.

Rather than simply leaning on AEP and the other friends they know a little too well, in Columbus, it’s time to look elsewhere for ideas that will help move all of Ohio forward, cleanly.


Marietta Times. June 18, 2024.

Editorial: Ohio may have your unclaimed funds

Looking for a few extra dollars? The state of Ohio might be holding on to some that belongs to you. Last week, the Ohio Department of Commerce announced its list of the top counties in terms of the amount of money being “safeguarded by the state” that belongs to residents and businesses there.

Cuyahoga came out on top, with $477 million in unclaimed funds.

Money being held by the state Division of Unclaimed Funds is “lost or forgotten money that businesses and banks report to the Division of Unclaimed Funds after accounts become inactive, typically between 3-5 years. The money comes from inactive checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, forgotten utility deposits, unknown insurance claims, or last paychecks.”

Does any of that sound familiar to you? Even if it doesn’t, it’s worth checking unclaimedfunds.ohio.gov to find out whether you’ve got any money waiting. According to the ODC, Washington County residents and businesses are missing out on $10,130,252.41. (There is also $1,491,500 for Monroe, $736,330.14 for Noble, $1,158,785.26 for Morgan, $7,727,880.79 for Athens and $2,233,903.78 for Meigs.)

Of course, if you find yourself or a family member on the list, there are steps to take, including gathering required documents and sending the information to the Division of Unclaimed Funds. But it could be very much worth the effort.

Ohio says it is holding on to approximately $4 billion that doesn’t belong to it. Don’t miss out on the chance to claim what’s yours.