FirstEnergy should be put out of business

July 3, 2021

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FirstEnergy should be put out of business
Columbus Dispatch, July 3, 2021
USA Today Network

It was long overdue that former speaker Larry Householder was expelled from the Ohio House following his indictment on charges he orchestrating the $60 million nuclear power bribery scheme.

The next step is for the House and the entire legislature to “expel” FirstEnergy corporation, FirstEnergy Service Company and Energy Harbor (formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions) for their alleged roles in the bribery scheme.

This also goes for FirstEnergy for wielding political influence over decades in the Statehouse and across Ohio at the expense of consumers, the environment and democracy through legalized bribery – otherwise known as political campaign contributions.

Specifically, the corporate charters of one or more of the “First Energies” should be revoked, meaning these companies should be dissolved.

Corporate charters, or licenses, are issued by the state to allow incorporated entities to conduct business. They were originally issued one at a time by our state legislature with specific conditions to ensure these public legal creations would be publicly accountable. Corporate entities possessed only privileges, not rights.

The Ohio Legislature and Ohio Supreme Court in scores of instances dissolved corporations that acted “ultra virus” – or beyond the authority of their charter’s terms.

Electricity can be supplied publicly, as in many states, or by cooperatives rather than private business corporations.

FirstEnergy has lost its public privilege to exist.

Failure to prevent FirstEnergy from continuing operations ignores former Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson who a century ago warned against monopolies that provide public services, “because if you do not own them they in turn will own you. They will rule your politics, corrupt your institutions and finally destroy your liberties.”

Of course, such an effort to protect the public from profound corporate abuses will be met with the claim that corporations have “constitutional rights.”

But corporations aren’t mentioned in the Constitution – corporate constitutional rights are Supreme Court inventions. The corporate hijacking of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and 14th Amendments, intended solely for human beings but undemocratically applied to corporations, have created massive harm to people, places and the planet.

We have been culturally conditioned to believe that we have no alternative. Corporations have and need basic statutory rights, which are created by legislatures. Their constitutional rights, however, must be abolished.

Enacting the We the People Amendment would shift the power to make corporate entities publicly accountable back from the judicial to the legislative arena – and by extension to the public.

We must democratically push back against the privatization/corporatization of public assets and services.

This includes the proposed “asset recycling” (i.e. the sale or lease of public assets to the private sector for new investments) contained in the proposed federal bipartisan infrastructure plan.

People must be in charge of our legal creations to make decisions affecting our lives. The time has still not arrived when the created is greater than the creator.

Greg Coleridge of Cleveland Heights is Outreach director of the national Move to Amend campaign. The organization aims to end so-called corporate personhood. Coleridge is author or “Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and Challenges to Freedom in the Future.”

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