Exclusive — DeWine Challenger Jim Renacci: Ohio Governor Is ‘Democrat-Like,’ Connected to Bribery Scandal

Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, answers questions during the U.S. Senate debate Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, Pool)
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, Pool

Former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), who is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), told Breitbart News Saturday it is time for the governor to address his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme and explained how the Republican governor is “Democrat-like,” operating in the same fashion as radical left-wing Govs. Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Gavin Newsom (CA).

Breitbart News Saturday host Matthew Boyle asked Renacci to walk listeners through Friday’s breaking news of Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal Patel announcing a settlement of a $230 million fine for FirstEnergy in a bribery scheme and the apparent connections directly to DeWine’s administration.

Renacci noted that, in 2019, Ohio was deemed the seventh-most corrupt state in the country and said this scandal has secured its position in the number one spot.

“This was clearly one of the biggest in Ohio history, could be in the country,” he said, noting the FBI said the settlement was “one of the largest ever.”


“Clearly, the governor is entwined in this web in many ways,” Renacci said, explaining that DeWine’s chief of staff was reassigned because of her work with FirstEnergy. Dan McCarthy was a long-time lobbyist for FirstEnergy and hired by the DeWine administration. But now, he is set to leave his position on August 1. Sam Randazzo, former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, is named in the bribery scheme as “saying he received millions of dollars,” and he was “named and headed up DeWine’s PUC,” the former congressman explained.

While Rennaci noted DeWine’s claims that he was unaware and will return the money, that, he said, does not address the lingering concerns.

“The problem is there’s a lot of money that was funneled directly and indirectly to DeWine,” he explained, citing a book written by a lobbyist who said DeWine knew about everything that was going on and took almost $5 million directly or indirectly from FirstEnergy.

“Now this lobbyist has since committed suicide. What’s also interesting about that is when he committed suicide, he had a shirt on that said, ‘DeWine for Governor.’ What he says in the book is not good for DeWine. He talks that DeWine knew of this corruption and, actually, as I said, took $5 million directly or indirectly,” he said, noting the scandal goes far beyond that, citing the Cincinnati paper that reported that money from FirstEnergy comprised more than one-third of all contributions to a dark money group supporting DeWine.

“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,” he said, adding that the case should not be as much about FirstEnergy as it is the political figures involved.

FirstEnergy, he explained, had two nuclear power plants that filed bankruptcy because former Gov. John Kasich (R) deregulated nuclear energy, and oversight came from the federal side.

“Government intervention into the nuclear power plants caused them not to be able to raise the money they needed to continue to power those plants,” he said, explaining they were looking for a way to write a bill that assisted by taking some of the green energy money that was being pulled by legislation that the state got involved in years ago and shifting it to the nuclear power plants.

But, Renacci said, the legislature did not need to be corrupted in the way that it was.

“In the end, this is a good company in Ohio that was pushing for a House bill, but instead do just lobbying to get it done, there was tremendous amounts of money, $61 million I think is what has been quoted, that was pushed into people’s hands to support this legislation and as I say … a lot of it was funneled to Mike DeWine,” he said, noting DeWine “signed off on a bill after it was passed by the House and Senate.”

Renacci attributed the egregious behavior and corruption as one of the reasons he is running for governor, reminding the audience that he warned against DeWine’s leadership in 2017.

“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 then-COVID, him and Cuomo on TV every day talking about how they were going to restrict and shut down and require masks and require, you know, mandates and all these things which are Democrat-like. I call him Cuomo-like because he is Cuomo-like,” he said, citing a poll showing a majority concluding that DeWine is not conservative and noting that President Biden named the Republican as a co-chair of his “Council of Governors.”

Renacci also said to look at DeWine’s history in the Senate, which shows he was “very liberal.”

DeWine was also one of the most eager, he said, to shut everything down during the pandemic, falling in line with Cuomo and Newsom. Renacci stated DeWine only ended up opening things back up because the legislature overruled him.

“He’s already talking about schools and masks,” he added, highlighting the governor’s Vax-a-Million lottery, which he called a “total failure” and waste of taxpayer money.

The $5 million could have been used for some of the businesses that were hit, he said, but, instead, DeWine gave five vaccinated people $1 million prizes.

At the end of the day, the DeWine challenger added, the governor simply engages in the same “gimmicks” as Democrats.


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