FirstEnergy Dissolution Testimony

May 29, 2024 - Ohio State House

Greg Coleridge - FirstEnergy Accountability Coalition

Good morning. My name is Greg Coleridge. I’m Co-Director of the national Move to Amend Campaign. This event is sponsored by the FirstEnergy Accountability Coalition, representatives of environmental and democracy, good government organizations and consumers. We are calling today to metaphorically “unplug”, more specifically, dissolve, FirstEnergy Company. 

We believe it’s time to hold FirstEnergy corporation accountable in proportion to the scale of its historic admitted crime of a $61 million payment in 2021 to a nonprofit secretly operated by former GOP Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder (now in prison) and another $4.3 million payment to the state’s top utility regulator, Sam Randazzo, who was recently indicted and is now deceased. The bribes were intended to pass House Bill 6 (HB6), a $1.3 billion bailout of two FirstEnergy antiquated, failing nuclear power plants, which would have cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Today is  the fifth anniversary of passage of HB6 by the Ohio House of Representatives.=

Numerous individuals connected to FirstEnergy have been and are appropriately being prosecuted. But the admitted corporate criminal, FirstEnergy, has yet to be held legitimately accountable. Simply paying a fine to the federal government is nowhere near the equivalency in magnitude to FirstEnergy corporation’s admission of guilt in what’s been called the largest bribery scheme in the 221year old history of the State of Ohio. It’s time for the State to take action. Attorney General David Yost has the power and authority to call for the dissolution of the company. Yost has filed a civil suit that includes that possibility. FirstEnergy’s corporate charter or license should be revoked.

Corporations are legal creations of the state. Corporate charters or licenses were originally meant to define corporate actions to ensure that the state’s corporate creations obeyed all laws, served the common good and provided useful goods or services. When corporations failed to follow the provisions of their charter, including upholding the law, their charters were often revoked – less as a punishment to the company than to protect Ohioans and our direct and representative democracy.

There is a long and proud history of both the Ohio State Legislature and Ohio Supreme Court revoking corporate charters. 

In one instance, the Supreme Court in 1900 stated in revoking a corporate charter 

The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world.

In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern.

In 1892, the Ohio AG, David Watson, filed suit to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company, the most powerful U.S. corporation of the time, for forming a trust. Watson stated:

Where a corporation, either directly or indirectly, submits to the domination of an agency unknown to the statute, or identifies itself with and unites in carrying out an agreement whose performance is injurious to the public, it thereby offends against the law of its creation and forfeits all right to its franchises, and judgment of ouster should be entered against it.

It should be noted that David Watson was a Republican. 

Following the brief statements from several members of the FirstEnergy Accountability Coalition, we will march across the street to the office of Attorney General Yost. We have sent him a letter seeking a meeting to urge him to do his job to protect all Ohioans, as well as the environment and whatever amount of democracy we have in Ohio, by dissolving FirstEnergy Company. 

Tabitha Woodruff, Esq. - Ohio National Lawyers Guild  
Unplug First Energy Corp

My name is Tabitha Woodruff, and I serve in a volunteer capacity as the Deputy Coordinator for the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. We are the nations oldest and largest progressive bar association, and we stand for the principle that human rights are more important than property interest and the needs of the people are more important than corporate profit.

We know that our campaign finance system produces elected officials who are bought and paid for by their corporate sponsors, especially since the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United in 2010. The most shocking thing for me about the first energy bribery scandal was that it was determined to be illegal at all; that it was so sloppy in its execution; and that FirstEnergy failed to use legal loopholes to pull it off. 

The goal of FirstEnergy’s bribes was to pass Ohio House Bill 6, a law that would have increased every electricity bill in Ohio to generate over $1 billion for FirstEnergy. This massive theft was signed and approved by the Ohio House, by the Ohio Senate, and by Ohio’s governor in 2019, until the scandal was unveiled, and portions of House Bill 6 were repealed. Half of the $230 million fine paid by FirstEnergy for their crime in the Department of Justice lawsuit went into the US Treasury and the other half (just 10% of the proposed theft and less than 1% of their annual revenue) went to a program to help Ohioans pay their utility bills.

As an attorney who has had clients’ lives threatened when their electricity was shut off, clients with disabilities that required electric machines to keep them alive, clients at risk of heat stroke when their air conditioners powered down — the implications of First Energy’s crimes against Ohioans are infuriating.

We are at a point in American history where the people acutely feel the unlimited unaccountable power of corporations more than we ever have before. We cry out in the streets for peace while our government leaders give billions of our tax dollars to corporations to build bombs to drop on Palestinian families in tents in Gaza. Our underpaid teachers have to go on strike to demand safe and functional school buildings as Columbus City Council spends hundreds of millions of dollars on the police budget, tax money that is given to corporations to make bullets that end up in our children and our neighbors. 

It is difficult not to feel hopeless. 

The stranglehold that corporations have on our government is deadly, but it is not unstoppable in the face of the power of the people.

We are here today to tell you that reigning in corporate influence on our government begins with holding corporations accountable under the law for their wrongdoing. Fines and settlements do little to deter corporate misconduct, and I think we all know that. What is the real difference between a fine and a bribe, when FirstEnergy can just pay the government and go back to generating profit off Ohioans? Ohio's leaders must use the law to make FirstEnergy face real consequences for the harm they caused. Ohio Attorney General David Yost must use his power to dissolve FirstEnergy Corporation for their admitted crimes.

Thank you.

Pat Marida - Ohio Nuclear Free Network

My name is Pat Marida, and I am a volunteer coordinator with the Ohio Nuclear Free Network.

FirstEnergy should be dissolved for lying about their nuclear plants being unprofitable. They “threatened” Ohio politicians with closing their Ohio nuclear plants. Not all Ohioans were so fearful of this threat that seemed to have Governor DeWine and the Ohio legislature shaking in their boots.

Indeed, FirstEnergy was losing money. Those who bothered to read their 2018 annual report would see that this loss was due to FirstEnergy’s purchase of Allegheny Energy in 2010 and that their commercial nuclear reactors were making a profit. FirstEnergy’s lie is laid bare by the fact that these nuclear plants have continued to operate without the billion-dollar subsidy.

The reality is that without government subsidies and insurance, neither old nor new nuclear plants could have or ever will be built. 

At the time of Ohio’s $1.3 billion bailout, FirstEnergy owned not just the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants on Lake Erie in Ohio, but also owned two Beaver Valley nuclear plants and the infamous Three-Mile Island nuclear operations in Pennsylvania – also benefiting from Ohio’s generosity.

Governor DeWine and Ohio legislators that received donations from First Energy seemed to have no recollection of Lake Erie’s seiche flooding that hit Davis-Besse when it was under construction, or the hole in the head of Davis-Besse’s reactor that came within one-eighth of an inch of nuclear catastrophe. Now, Davis-Besse is sinking into Lake Erie due to its considerable weight.

There is even less public knowledge of Ohio’s Perry nuclear plant that was shaken by a 5.0 earthquake in 1986. A top public geologist is now revealing the reason for the stealthy pouring of thousands of tons of concrete as foundation for Perry. It was due to the unstable, vertical shale beneath the plant. Combined with the high water table on the bluff where Perry stands, the entire plant is in imminent danger of collapsing into the Lake.

The lawlessness behind the passage of the Ohio House Bill 6 bailout is part and parcel of the atmosphere of regulatory indifference, if not malfeasance. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been captured by the power of FirstEnergy and the nuclear lobby. The Commission continues to allow proprietary secrecy and to give waivers to Ohio’s nuclear plants on inspections, standards, maintenance, repairs, and critical upgrades. The Ohio Nuclear Free Network has a partial list of over 40 FirstEnergy requests for exemptions, along with waivers granted. Exemptions include overlooking the continuing releases of radioactivity. Perry’s recent tritium releases are particularly troubling.

I will close by saying that the incredible power of FirstEnergy and the nuclear industry over the safety and purse of the American public must be addressed.

Thank you.

Cathy Cowan Becker - Save Ohio Parks
Unplug FirstEnergy

Good morning. My name is Cathy Cowan Becker, and I am a co-founder and steeringcommittee member of Save Ohio Parks. We are an all-volunteer citizens group trying to protect our state parks, wildlife areas, and public lands from fracking.

In December 2022, during a lame duck session, legislators took HB 507 – also known as the “chicken bill” because it concerned the number of poultry chicks 4H students could sell – and stuffed it full of unrelated oil and gas amendments, such as declaring fracked gas to be “green energy,” and mandating fracking in our state parks.

This was done in senate committee, with no notification or chance to comment. Gov. DeWine signed it on a late Friday afternoon in January to avoid publicity.

This was an egregious violation of the public trust. We the people of Ohio own Ohio public lands through the taxes we pay, and we are the people who use these lands. Ohio state parks are beloved because where else can you go in a highly industrialized state like Ohio to get the critical connection with nature we all need?

HB 507 reminded me of another time when we tried to stop a horrific bill in Ohio. I will never forget in 2019 waiting hours with dozens of others to testify against House Bill 6. The hearing room was packed, and that was just one of many hearings with a total of 360 testimonies in opposition.

Citizen after citizen went through the reasons not to pass HB 6:
- It authorized a billion-dollar bailout of two old dangerous nuclear plants
- It set subsidies for two old dirty coal plants -- in effect to this day.
- It repealed Ohio’s renewable energy standards that incentivized the solar and wind energy we need to address the climate crisis
- And it repealed Ohio’s energy efficiency programs through which utilities would retrofit homes and businesses with energy saving devices that also saved money

During this testimony, it was clear the legislators were not listening and didn’t care what we thought. They were there to pass that bill, and any committee hearings were just for show.

When the feds charged four players in the HB6 scandal, we found out why. The “worst energy bill of the 21st century” was passed with $61 million from FirstEnergy -- described as "likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio."

The fallout has reached far and wide. So far:
Two people have gone to prison on federal felony charges
Two made deals with the feds
Two committed suicide
And two are now facing state felony charges – former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones and former VP Michael Dowling.

At the root of all of this is FirstEnergy.

FirstEnergy is who paid the $61 million to former House Speaker Larry Householder to get HB 6 passed, and who paid Sam Randazzo $4.3 million for favorable rulings at the PUCO.
FirstEnergy is who didn’t want competition from solar and wind
FirstEnergy is who didn’t want energy efficiency, so customers would have to use – and pay for – more energy

The House Bill 6 scandal – just like the forced fracking of our state parks and public lands that are supposed to be protected – is a national embarrassment for Ohio.

FirstEnergy has done deep damage to Ohio’s environment, economy, and democracy. But there’s one thing we can do to fix this: Unplug FirstEnergy. A corporation that abuses its license to operate should no longer have that license. FirstEnergy’s corporate license should be dissolved, and its business transferred to a more responsible company.

We call on Attorney General Dave Yost to unplug FirstEnergy. Thank you.

Joseph A. Mosyjowski, P.E. - Retired Small Businessperson

The biggest question that we need to ask is this: why hasn’t HB6 been fully repealed?

As a consumer and long-time business professional who is forced to pay for antiquated, non-profitable coal fired energy plants, I am livid that households and businesses are still financially harmed by FirstEnergy Corp. every month.

As a father who recognizes that clean energy is absolutely necessary for future generations of humans and our planet, I am stunned that FirstEnergy Corp. conservation mandates have still yet to be reinstated.

As an individual who has been spoon-fed with a lifetime of “We the People” democracy pablum, I am awakened to the fact that FirstEnergy Corp. money, property and power have relegated the needs of our citizenry to second class status.

One would think that this State’s worst scandal in its 221 years of existence would be impetus for a nearly instantaneous repeal.

So why hasn’t HB6 been repealed?

-For the same reason our Legislature for years ignored four State Supreme Court rulings that an over-reliance on property taxes to fund local public schools was unconstitutional.

-For the same reason that the oil and gas industry was exempted from local regulation or control.

-For the same reason the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District sells millions of gallons of water to hydraulic frackers, knowing that every gallon ends up polluted.

-For the same reason the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, passed by a substantial majority of Toledo voters, was immediately challenged in court. (Who cares if Toledo citizens can’t drink their tap-water? Big-Ag needs more commercial feedlot operations.)

-For the same reason that the voter-approved Ohio Redistricting Commission gave us 3 sets of unconstitutional legislative districts, then ran out the clock with the 4th.

-For the same reason the Legislature reinstituted a costly August special election less than a year after eliminating costly August special elections.

-For the same reason that the Legislature passed a law banning local regulation of flavored nicotine products. (Was that to protect the health, safety and welfare of our young citizens?)

Why hasn’t HB6 been fully repealed? Because the power and money that runs this state has gotten away with all of the above, and to this day, they’ve gotten away with HB6. Simply put, laws, like taxes, are meant to control us little people. The Ohio Legislature has permitted big money to smother speech and corporate power to overwhelm citizens.

As a Professional Engineer in and for the State of Ohio, I’m in one of ninety-three professions ranging from Acupuncturist to Veterinarian requiring a license to operate in this State. I can lose my license if I do not comply with a code of ethics, continuing education requirements and the law. Similarly then, if FEC is a corporate “person”, shouldn’t it lose its Charter, or is the biggest bribery and corruption scandal in Ohio’s history not considered a minor misdemeanor in this State?

Deborah Hogshead - Move to Amend Miami County

Two constitutional principles undergird our democracy: popular sovereignty and republicanism. 

Popular sovereignty means the people rule. Republicanism means the people elect individuals to represent their interests in government.  

FirstEnergy subverted those principles. The corporation stepped into the process of governing, with its power and wealth, to exert control and bribe elected officials into representing its interests rather than ours. FirstEnergy spent millions of dark-money dollars to support favored candidates for public office and the subsequent passing of House Bill 6. It also funded a successful disinformation campaign to derail a citizen-initiated petition drive for a referendum on House Bill 6.

We cannot ignore the serious threats that corporate power and big money represent to our democracy. And although FirstEnergy has admitted guilt and paid a fine, we cannot allow the corporation behind the largest public corruption scandal in Ohio history to get a pass on undermining our democracy. We must reclaim the people’s right to rule and to expect our elected representatives to act in our best interests. We call on Attorney General Yost to pursue the dissolution of FirstEnergy. 

Sandy Bolzenius - Ohio Move to Amend

My name is Sandy Bolzenius, and I am a member of Move to Amend, the sponsor of the We the People Amendment that declares that corporations are not People. Many Ohioans are unaware that we have the right to dissolve corporations.

Of course, it only makes sense that Ohioans have the right to dissolve corporations because WE are the ones who charter them! Corporations exist because WE allow them to exist. Since Ohio became a state, it has been granting charters to corporations contingent on terms that they will be a benefit to the people. That was true then, and it is true now.

Ohio’s early legislators, however, were leery of corporations due to their proven ability to amass great influence over society if not checked. To prevent them from becoming more wealthy and powerful than the People who created them, these early state leaders set rigid conditions.
a) First and foremost, corporations needed to meet the needs of the people.
b) They were limited in the length of time they could exist, and
c) Hold your seat for this one … They were FOREBIDDEN to engage in political activities.
d) Corporate entities that failed to meet these and other obligations were subject to
revocations of their charters.

This is not some new phenomenon. The state has a similar pact with its people, in the form of licenses. Doctors, accountants, hair dressers, forklift operators and other professionals who fail to meet their stated obligations, may have their licenses revoked.

Now curiously, while the conditions for people’s licenses have increased over the decades, they have loosened for corporate charters. (Anyone in this room familiar with Citizens United)

Fulfilling the fears of early Ohio legislators, corporations have grown so enormously wealthy and powerful that they are able to assert their interest over We the People who brought them into existence! Indeed, corporate barons have managed to gain --from the Supreme Court-- status as People. To the reporters: By the way, this first happened on your watch, in 1886.

What does this mean for us? While real people have constitutional rights to free speech, so do corporations, only with far more money and influence to be heard!

Nevertheless, the obligation of chartered corporations to operate in good faith to serve Ohioans remains intact. By any measure, FirstEnergy has failed, and failed spectacularly, to meet its chartered obligations to its consumers and to all Ohioans who value their health, the environment, and our democracy.

Why then, does FirstEnergy still exist? And what can we do about this?
1) Recognize that corporations are not born, but created – by us!
2) Demand that Attorney General David Yost dissolve FirstEnergy,
3) End this illogical notion that corporations are people by supporting Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment. Once ratified, it will abolish the corrupt concepts that corporations are people and --because they speak through money--that money is speech.

In conclusion…to prevent corporations like FirstEnergy from harming our state, Ohioans need Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment. Once ratified, this will put real people, not corporations, in the driver’s seat of our democracy.

Script of Action that Interrupted Sandy's Testimony

Sandy: Many Ohioans today are unaware that we have the right to dissolve corporations…

[Four reporters from the late 1800s, notebooks and pencils in hand, barge into the room, visibly

Reporter 1: “Why so much controversy about Ohioans' rights to dissolve a corporation
that has not lived up to its responsibilities? In the past, that was a given, and everyone
knew it. 
Reporter 2: Exactly! 130 years ago, I was covering the anti-trust case to revoke Standard
Oil's charter. Ohioans then understood that they not only had this right, but a duty to
stop these corporate harms. 

Reporter 3: Ida B. Wells: Exactly! And we did not entertain this nonsense about a company
being “too big to fail.” I, Ida B. Wells, took on the whole social and economic structure to
expose the lies about lynching.

Reporter 4: Why in your so-called modern times are corporate charter revocations no
longer even part of the discussions of corporate malfeasance?
[The others nod in agreement as they recall their work on earlier cases.]

Reporter 1: Ha! Modern times. Ohioans in the past were a heck of lot more vigilant. We
chartered corporations to serve the public, not harm us. Like that Repeal of the German
Bank of Wooster Charter that I wrote about in 1842.

Reporter 3: And in 1901, when the Ohio Supreme Court took up the case to dissolve Capital
City Dairy Company. 

Reporter 2: Back in the day, the Ohio Attorney General worked hard to revoke the
Standard Oil Charter for violating Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.

Reporter 4: Ida B. Wells: These corporations were harming the people and harming
democracy! We the People must protect the people, the environment, and DEMOCRACY!

Sandy: Excuse me. Thank you all for making this long journey over 130 years or so. It is
bewildering that Ohioans today are so unaware of our rights to dissolve a corporation. But as we
have invited your successors of your noble profession here today, I must beg your indulgence so
that we can continue with our press conference.

Ohio Sierra Club - Press Release

Date: May 29, 2024
Contact: Chad Stephens, 216-322-6998

Sierra Club Ohio Demands the Dissolution of FirstEnergy

Cleveland, OH – Earlier today, the FirstEnergy Accountability Coalition members hosted a press conference demanding the dissolution of FirstEnergy. Sierra Club stands with the Coalition members in urging Ohio Attorney General David Yost to revoke the utility’s charter. Sierra Club agrees with the Coalition that dissolving the corporation is the proportionate action to respond to the scale of their historic bribery scheme.

FirstEnergy has been involved in the House Bill 6 scandal, which resulted in the gutting of Ohio’s energy efficiency standards. The standards protected low-income and disadvantaged households from high energy bills. The company has additionally proposed rate hikes that will disproportionately burden Ohio families and businesses.

First Energy has long refused to support or invest in utility-scale solar or wind power generation, which deny Ohioans home energy savings, increased energy resilience, improved air quality, creation of green jobs, and long-term cost savings for ratepayers. Chad Stephens, Conservation Program Coordinator, of Sierra Club Ohio released the following statement:

The unethical bribery of elected officials and dissemination of misinformation about clean and renewable energy to the general public has been beyond a burden to all the people in the State of Ohio. We stand with our coalition partners in calling for an end to this source of corruption. Ohio can and should be a leader in the generation of clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Yost has filed a civil suit against FirstEnergy Corporation, calling for it to be dissolved or reorganized pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code 2923.34(B)(3).


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public













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