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Federal PAC Donations Show Ohio Valley Lawmakers Raked In Thousands From Utility FirstEnergy

Brittany Patterson

  Lawmakers from across the Ohio Valley have received nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions from 2019-2020 from a political action committee associated with FirstEnergy Corp., the electric utility implicated in a $61 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to Ohio’s controversial energy bill that bailed out several struggling nuclear and coal plants. 

FirstEnergy’s PAC donated $484,490 to elected officials  in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The elected officials came from both parties and encompassed a vast range of political offices — from the U.S. Senate and House to statehouses and even state auditors offices — according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission documents compiled by HEATED, a climate-focused newsletter written by journalist Emily Atkin. 

Last month’s revelation by federal prosecutors that the Ohio-based company funneled millions of dollars of dark money into a group, Generation Now, controlled by former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and his political allies, pulled back the curtain on the out sized political influence wielded by the utility, which is one of the largest in the country. 

For example, recent reporting by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, found a highly-connected attorney with deep ties in Kentucky Republican politics is linked to the Ohio case. Former Kentucky Republican Party General Counsel Eric Lycan is listed as the treasurer of Generation Now. Lycan is connected to several PACs and tax-exempt organizations in Kentucky and West Virginia

While the investigation is ongoing and continues to unearth connections between the utility, coal company Murray Energy and lawmakers, contributions made by FirstEnergy’s PAC during the 2019-2020 campaign cycle offer a window into the company’s priorities. 

Six U.S. Senators from West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania received campaign contributions from FirstEnergy’s PAC totaling $24,500. 

The Country Roads PAC, associated with Sen. Manchin, and Wild and Wonderful PAC, associated with Sen. Capito, each received $5,000 in contributions from FirstEnergy’s PAC, records show. 

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