CLEVELAND, Ohio – Mayor Frank Jackson said Thursday the city is considering taking legal action against FirstEnergy for its role in covertly funding a campaign to discredit Cleveland Public Power.
Jackson said he had discussed the option with cabinet members, including operations chief Darnell Brown and director of public utilities Martin Keane, but has not yet decided on how to proceed.
“I pretty much understand that they used that dark money to undermine our customer base,” Jackson said during a meeting with the editorial staff of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.
Akron’s FirstEnergy was not immediately available for comment.
It’s about FirstEnergy’s role in funding a self-described grassroots organization, consumers against fraudulent charges. the CPP customers from 2018 leaflets. Public documents have since shown that the dark money organization was heavily funded by FirstEnergy.
Jackson said he believed the company was trying to take harmful, monopoly action against a competitor, CPP.
The urban utility has around 70,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the city, including FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. FirstEnergy has around 60,000 customers in Cleveland.
Jackson noted that the city council is also investigating the origins of consumers against fraudulent charges. Council President Kevin Kelley said the council’s lawyers are reviewing the level of the council’s subpoena powers to compel people to testify before the council.
The group is now disbanded. In the aftermath of the HB 6 bribery scandal, a legislative rescue operation for nuclear and coal-fired power plants, clear connections between FirstEnergy and the lobby group were uncovered.
Records received last month show that $ 200,000 from FirstEnergy in 2019 went to consumers against fraudulent charges through Partners for Progress, another nonprofit that investigators say acted as a passage.
An FBI affidavit filed in July mentioned Partners for Progress, which included a $ 60 million bribery program to pass the $ 1 billion power plant bailout that once belonged to a FirstEnergy subsidiary. has been described.
Nobody from FirstEnergy has been charged with the scandal, and the company has announced it will be working with investigators.
Tax and court documents show that the utility transferred $ 200,000 to the dark money organization in 2019 and that it was the only source of funding for that year. Kelley would like to know what source was about $ 350,000 that the organization received for 2018.
“Dark money works against local residents. All of these groups have righteous sounding names that give the impression that they are serving good causes. But you have to look at where the money is coming from. ” Kelley said recently.
Reporter John Caniglia contributed to this story.
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