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WHITEBOARD: All Credibility Lost

First Energy Update: Would You Forget the Call That Helped Save Your Career?

We’re reaching a moment of true absurdity in Ohio, folks.

Governor DeWine is telling the press for the umpteenth time he can’t remember the actions he took in late 2018 to 1) revive a struggling campaign by soliciting major-league dark money, then 2) hand over the reigns of Ohio’s public utility commission to the source of much of that game-changing dark money.


Now, on the one had, DeWine’s recollection in 2024 doesn’t really matter:

Because whether DeWine actually remembers the calls and requests he made of now-indicted First Energy executives doesn’t matter as much as the truth that he DID make those calls (and send texts). More irrefutable proof became public a few days ago:

Just as whether or not DeWine remembers that, in response to his calls, enormous sums flowed from First Energy to dark money groups to boost his sagging campaign in late 2018 doesn’t matter—because we now know that the money DID flow AFTER he made his calls and requests:

Just as whether or not DeWine remembers what was discussed at the private meeting weeks after the election where he agreed to turn the reigns of the Ohio’s utility commission over to First Energy’s hand-picked consultant doesn’t matter—because we know that that IS what was discussed at that meeting, and it’s what HAPPENED within weeks of the meeting (along with the payment of $4.3M to that consultant which First Energy later said was a bribe). I mean, we have notes:

So it all happened, we know it happened, it’s all documented, and DeWine’s shifting story that he just can’t remember any of it doesn’t change that truth. Or whatever legal liability come from it.


There’s something deeply disturbing about seeing the Governor of a state so blatantly BS’ing the people of his state. So disturbing that it needs to be called out for what it is:


I try to explain it in the VIDEO above how absurd it is— I hope you’ll watch it.

But here’s the added detail, and key datapoints…

DeWine’s October Crisis

You see, all these calls and texts and requests and funds to dark money groups happened in a particular context that makes it absolutely unimaginable that Governor DeWine doesn't remember any of it.


Because when all this went down, DeWine was losing the race for Governor. He was on the ropes. That was my own recollection, but I also wanted to reconfirm it—and boy was he in trouble.

For example, here are the public polls of Ohio over the course of October 2018. DeWine’s October 13 text/call (from above) came only days after the October 10 release of an early October public poll (the Suffolk one) showing he trailed by 6:

Later polls showed Cordray maintaining a lead. Internal polls were showing the same.

But as he faced these numbers, DeWine faced another crisis.

He desperately needed more money to fight back against an aggressive campaign being run by Richard Cordray against him.

How desperate was DeWine?

Not only was he making calls to have big (dark) money spent to boost his flagging campaign. He was so desperate, that on October 23, he personally loaned his campaign $3 million! (And this came after spending most of his years as Attorney General raising funds—from AG vendors—to pay himself back for a $2M personal loan he made to his AG campaign in 2010; can’t imagine he or his family liked the idea of another $3M loan, can you?):

So in October 2018, DeWine was trailing in the polls, and digging deep into his own personal funds in the hopes of sparking a last minute surge to come back.

And guess what…DeWine did come back!

And weeks after doing so, he (and LG Husted) met that First Energy CEO for a private dinner, and that’s where they signed off on that CEO’s hand-picked choice to regulate First Energy. And THAT was the key decision—the original sin, the turning over of a key public function to a private interest—that kick-started what grew into the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history. Payoffs ($4.3M to that consultant within weeks), bribery, federal convictions, a massive and costly bailout of First Energy (that we are still paying for), and—tragically—two suicides, including that consultant.

So that’s the context of it all.

An Unforgettable Call

Now that you know all that—that DeWine was on the ropes politically, hard up for late money, draining millions from his own pocket to fund last-minute spending—do you really think that after he texted that CEO on October 13, followed up by a call requesting another $500K (he had gotten a first $500K only days before)…

…and then had a second call with that same CEO three days later, where he learned that he would receive his $500K request…

…that he’d forget all that?

Think about it: He must have been contemplating the personal loan at the time of that second call. Deciding how big it would have to be. So that extra $500K possibly made a difference in how much of his own money he was also going to have to tap into. Heck, it may have saved him $500K! Do you really forget that?

Then go further: knowing that with that late surge of funds, and his own loan, DeWine went on to a comeback victory that defied even his own pollster’s prediction, do you really believe he doesn’t remember what he discussed on the very calls that sparked his comeback? That First Energy had come through for him at his moment of dire need, with exactly what he had asked—after having already helped him so much previously?


Time to Clean It Up

Like I said, in a narrow sense—and in a legal sense—it doesn’t really matter what DeWine claims to remember. It all happened. It’s all deeply documented.

At the same time, his claiming he doesn’t remember it all is patently absurd. Insulting to all of us.

Worse, as a matter of governance, it’s disturbing.

The sight of a cornered Governor trying to plead faulty memory for such central aspects of his own rise to Governor—and the act that became the original sin of the scandal that’s dominated his entire tenure—is downright disturbing.

Painfully, the man has two years left in his term, and it’s already fallen this far. Falls further by the week.

A governorship tainted from the outset. Likely only won due to dirty, dark money. Now backpedaling from prior denials every time a new revelation disproves those denials, but then following it with a new round of denials, only to be disproved again.

Honestly, he has no credibility left, but we have to endure two more years of absurd statements that insult our intelligence.

Just as we are forced to watch an equally enmeshed Lieutenant Governor now trying to succeed DeWine as if nothing is amiss.

Folks, Ohio has so many challenges—we are ranked #1 in corruption, we are losing population, our schools have plummeted under the reckless policies of men like these, our young people face among the highest levels of student debt in the country, and we are #43 in job creation. And a gerrymandered legislature careening to the far right on everything.

Amid all this failure, we need strong and steady leadership.

Instead, we are saddled with failed leadership and the collapse of credibility of those in charge. Stuck with a Governor lying to us about the most common sense of matters, and a Lt. Governor running around as if all is normal.

Folks, we can’t ever let this happen again.

We can’t ever accept this again.

We deserve better than this.

A great state, saddled with a true meltdown of public leadership.

Ohio—clean it up!


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