Former Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci (R), the GOP primary challenger to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), said Saturday during a Breitbart interview that DeWine is “Democrat-like” because he governs like Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), and Gavin Newsom (D-CA), adding that DeWine is directly involved in the FirstEnergy bribery scandal.
Renacci pointed out that DeWine shut down his state during the COVID-19 pandemic much the same way that Cuomo and Newsom did in their states, only reopening when he was ultimately overruled by the state’s legislature. He also mocked the governor’s “gimmick” of giving out $1 million each to five people who received a COVID-19 vaccination.
“I call him Cuomo-like because he is Cuomo-like,” Renacci said, noting that voters said in a poll that DeWine was not conservative and that President Joe Biden named him as co-chair of his Council of Governors. DeWine was also “very liberal” in the Senate, Renacci added.
“We just ranked …. we’re the 50th state for states and the economy. We’re also number one in corruption, number one in drug overdose. All these things under DeWine’s administration while he was playing the Cuomo game” during the early days of the pandemic, Renacci said.
Renacci also said that DeWine was “directly” involved in the FirstEnergy scandal and that a sizeable amount of the money FirstEnergy allegedly spent to bribe legislators and officials went to DeWine.
NPR noted that a $230 million settlement, to be paid by FirstEnergy, was announced on Friday. The settlement will defer prosecution of the company with regard to a scheme to get legislation passed in an attempt to bail out two of its Ohio power plants, to the tune of $1 billion.
The energy company paid roughly $61 million in bribe money, and DeWine ultimately signed off on the bill that was passed by the state legislature.
Renacci also reminded readers of a book published by a lobbyist in which they claimed that at least $5 million went directly to DeWine in campaign contributions. Some of DeWine’s staff also had ties to FirstEnergy.
DeWine claims ignorance
DeWine’s chief of staff was reassigned because of her work with the company, and top aide Dan McCarthy will leave his position Aug.1 given that he was a long-time lobbyist for the company. Sam Randazzo, who headed up DeWine’s PUC, is directly named as receiving millions from FirstEnergy.
The governor said that he knew nothing of the bribery scheme and will return any campaign money that originated from it, but Renacci said that such an action will fail to alleviate voters’ concerns. He brought up a report from an Ohio newspaper that revealed that one-third of all contributions to DeWine, from a dark money group, originated from FirstEnergy.
“So there’s a lot out there that shows that Mike DeWine is entangled in this, and we’re calling for him to talk about it, tell us how much he got, how he got it,” the GOP candidate said.
Renacci revealed that the ongoing corruption is one of the primary reasons why he has decided to run against DeWine next year.