A report this week by Andrew J. Tobias at Cleveland.com suggests that former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chairman Sam Randazzo helped craft the wording of the controversial Ohio House Bill 6.

That's interesting for many reasons.

As we reported on Nov. 16, 2020, FBI agents conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity at Randazzo's home in relation to a sealed federal search warrant, according to FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren.

Randazzo was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and designated chairman by Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019.

According to reports, before leading the commission, Randazzo was a lobbyist and an attorney for energy companies and the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, which represents some of the state’s largest industries.

In a Sept. 17 report at https://radio.wosu.org/, State Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, pointed to public records that he says connects a company owned by Randazzo as a creditor for the former FirstEnergy subsidiary, previously known as FirstEnergy Solutions.

House Bill 6 bails out two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor.

Rep. Weinstein claimed Randazzo has "personal skin in the game."

So it would seem.

According to the Cleveland.com report this week (see https://www.cleveland.com/open/2021/01/former-top-ohio-utility-regulator-was-involved-with-writing-tainted-nuclear-bill-emails-show.html), "Records released by the Ohio House last month show Randazzo in emails to House staff suggested wording revisions to an early version of House Bill 6, which now is at the center of a federal corruption probe, along with other minor later changes to the bill language. They also show Randazzo helped develop new language for the bill to make it harder for wind energy projects to get exceptions to 'setback' rules requiring a certain amount of distance between windmills and adjoining properties. The language, drafted as an amendment that didn’t make it into the final bill, would have benefitted Randazzo’s former client. Randazzo had filed the case with the Ohio Supreme Court, and had withdrawn from the case six months before when Gov. Mike DeWine hired him as Ohio’s top utility regulator.

"Renewable energy advocates, who long have criticized Randazzo, say his involvement with House Bill 6 was inappropriate," Tobias reported.

The FBI investigation into Randazzo began just days after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a second lawsuit to stop collection of $150 million from Ohioans as a result of Ohio House Bill 6.

“The people of Ohio are about to be shaken down for money they should not have to pay based on how HB6 was enacted,” Yost said. “There is no process in place to return the money to residents once it leaves their accounts – so why take it? HB6, which was crafted and approved under corrupt and cloaked actions, calls for the collection of the funds beginning Jan. 1, which will then be paid to Energy Harbor."

“With every passing minute, this mess gets worse,” Yost said. “We need to stop this process altogether.”

House Bill 6 was cosponsored by Republican Reps. Jamie Callender of Lake County and Shane Wilkin of Hillsboro, who represents the 91st House District.

Last summer, I asked one of the representatives who wrote House Bill 6. Perhaps not shockingly, Randazzo's name never came up. Not once.

So far, two have pleaded guilty and others have lawyered up. We'll see how it all plays out.

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Project Veritas and PBS

• From the "Let's just hope this is too bizarre to believe file," today I received a report that suggests PBS (the taxpayer-funded Public Broadcasting Service) counsel Michael Beller may have suggested that the Department of Homeland Security should take President Trump supporters’ “horrible kids” away and put them in re-education camps.

“Even if Biden wins, we go for all the Republican voters, and Homeland Security will take their children away,” Beller allegedly said.

When I logged on to the PBS website today, I found this message: "We couldn't find any results for 'Beller.' Please try searching again. We suggest using fewer search terms and making sure all of your words are spelled correctly."

Well, PBS, I'm not sure I can find any "fewer search terms" than Beller, and I think I spelled his name correctly. Feel free to "re-educate" me if I am in error.

Later, on the PBS site, I found this: "A note from the Public Editor (their incorrect use of capitals, not mine) about a Project Veritas web post: Dozens from the audiences of the Public Broadcasting Service sent commentary to us on Tuesday, January 12, regarding a post on the website of the group, Project Veritas, which routinely targets journalists and has been found to have produced deceptive videos. The post features a videotaped conversation with a PBS employee. PBS has issued the following statement: This employee no longer works for PBS. As a mid-level staff attorney, he did not speak on behalf of our organization, nor did he make any editorial decisions. There is no place for hateful rhetoric at PBS, and this individual’s views in no way reflect our values or opinions. We strongly condemn violence and will continue to do what we have done for 50 years – use our national platform and local presence to strengthen communities and bring people together."

Wow, PBS. Nice job. Don't we all just hate those "mid-level staff attorneys" and their worthless doctor of law degrees? Talk about throwing a lawyer under a bus wreck.

According to congressional appropriation records, the federally subsidized Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receives over $400 million per year, and it sends about $60 million to PBS. That's about $60 million too much.

The full report can be found on the Project Veritas website at https://www.projectveritas.com/news/pbs-principal-counsel-lays-out-violent-radical-agenda-says-americans-are-f/.

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One more thing

Last week, someone whose name I was happily ignorant of for the first 59 years of my life had a bit of a spasm on social media regarding a thoughtful and well-written column on our website by someone a lot smarter than I am.

The usual threats were made. Frankly, for me, personally, I didn't give a damn. After 30+ years in this business, I'm not changing. If a reader or two does not enjoy the news, sports and commentary provided – FREE – by The Highland County Press, please spend your time elsewhere. PBS, Huff Po and Mo Jones will welcome you, I'm guessing.

For those who need a reminder, I am on no social media, and I own no cell phone. It takes others to inform and enlighten me as to what is being said – or threatened – on the social websites.

Since this particular incident seems to have riled up my friends around Pricetown and Lynchburg, I'll share this. My initial response was going to be identical to a letter (as the story has been told) almost written and published by former Congressman William H. Harsha, who, by the way, nominated me to the United States Military Academy on April 25, 1979.

His letter began: "Dear Ted."

Highland County Auditor and Lynchburg native Bill Fawley might be able to explain the rest. Have a beer with me, and I'll tell the story.

Hang in there, faithful readers. The Highland County Press will continue to serve you and hold local, state and federal public officials accountable when necessary.

But we won't toss kerosene on every fire caused by knee-jerk reactions void of rational thought.

Rory Ryan is the publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper. We appreciate our loyal readers and advertisers more than you know.