COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Federal agents executed a search warrant at the home of the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) but said no arrests were expected today.
The FBI would not confirm what the investigation is related to, but experts believe it’s connected to activities surrounding the passage of House Bill 6 last year, the same investigation that led to indictments against Rep. Larry Householder and guilty pleas from two of his associates.
The condo in German Village where agents searched is owned by Sam Randazzo, chairman of the PUCO. It’s not known whether Randazzo was home. Agents were seen removing boxes.
They would say only that they were executing a federal search warrant, sealed by a judge.
“We have enough information that we can tell this is actually related to the House Bill 6 investigation,” said Catherine Turcer with the watchdog group Common Cause Ohio.
According to a federal indictment, an Ohio utility, believed to be FirstEnergy Corp, paid Householder more than $60-million in bribes to shepherd HB 6 to passage and then to fight an effort to get it on the ballot.
The bill included a bailout for the company’s two nuclear power plants and would lead to a rate hike for customers.
Turcer pointed out that Randazzo was Gov. Mike DeWine’s pick to lead the agency and that Randazzo has been opposed to renewable energy. She also noted that Randazzo owns a consulting company that has done business with FirstEnergy.
“It's a little bit cozy that Sam Randazzo also has a company that was part of the bankruptcy filings of FirstEnergy Solutions,” she said.
Turcer said the fact that two of Householder’s associates pleaded guilty to racketeering shows that when it comes to the bill, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
“We still don't have a full picture, but we do understand now and we can say now that there is a significant problem in the way that House Bill 6 was passed,” she said.
A spokesman for Gov. DeWine said the governor was aware of the action this morning and is monitoring the situation. A spokesman for the PUCO said he had no information about the situation.