We the People must demand appropriate accountability over FirstEnergy Corp scandal

GREG COLERIDGE

NOVEMBER 23, 2022 

President Abraham Lincoln warned about the growing power of corporate entities in 1864 when he prophetically stated:

“…I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Though the election results were disappointing in hoping that a newly-composed state legislature might seek appropriate accountability of FirstEnergy Corporation over the bribery scandal to pass House Bill (HB) 6, there are other tracks that can and must be pursued. 

It’s been more than two years since FirstEnergy’s scheme was exposed of spending more than $60 million to bribe former House Speaker Larry Householder and other top government officials to pass energy legislation potentially worth $1.3 billion to the corporation —  described as “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio” by U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers, who charged Householder and four others with racketeering. Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges have pleaded not guilty.

Despite FirstEnergy’s admission of guilt that it — the corporation — was responsible for funneling the $60 million in bribes, the company has, to date, not been held accountable proportionately for its magnitude of democratic damage. The will of the people for clean energy to ensure a livable earth, for their voices to be heard by public officials not corrupted by bribes and to overturn HB6 via a citizen-driven referendum were all squashed by the admitted bribery of FirstEnergy Corporation. 

The announced federal fine of $230 million last year to the company is a joke. While it may sound impressive to the average person, the fine is less than the $334 million in FirstEnergy earnings in the third quarter of 2022 alone. 

An appropriate response to the scale of the harm to Ohioans, our communities and to democracy itself is nothing short of dissolving the company — a fairly common action by the Ohio legislature and courts in the past.

In one decision, The State ex rel v. The C.N.O. & T.P Ry. Co [1890], to dissolve a company, the Ohio Supreme Court stated:

The corporation has received vitality from the state; it continues during its existence to be the creature of the state; must live subservient to its laws, and has such powers and franchises as those laws have bestowed upon it, and none others. As the state was not bound to create it in the first place, it is not bound to maintain it after having done so, if it violates the laws or public policy of the state, or misuses its franchises to oppress the citizens thereof.

This is the language of self-governing people who understand that we possess the ultimate power and authority over our legal creations that transcend mere fines or other weak measures. 

Attorney General David Yost filed suit in September 2020 in Franklin County against FirstEnergy, several of its top executives and other entities under the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act. It calls for “each Defendant business entity and nonprofit entity to be dissolved…”

The state suit has been on hold since late last year, due to the concern that the depositions of some individual defendants might adversely affect federal case against these same individuals. 

Waiting and stalling are common tactics among the power elite to avoid accountability in the political and judicial arenas. The further away from the actual unjust, violent or illegal action when the public is paying attention and/or mobilized to call for accountability, the easier it is to strike a deal for minimal penalties. 

That can’t happen in this case. FirstEnergy’s actions have been too extreme, destructive and undemocratic not to demand appropriate accountability — dissolution of the corporate entity.

Two options are called for.

1. Attorney General Yost needs to refile the lawsuit, separating the dissolving of FirstEnergy and other defendant business entities from the civil actions against the named individual defendants. This separation will allow the proceeding against FirstEnergy to move ahead.

2. If Yost is unwilling to take such action, then there needs to be a separate suit by one or more individuals who have standing (i.e. FirstEnergy customers). 

If the first option is pursued, the filing by Yost will by definition have to eliminate all references to other options listed to hold FirstEnergy accountable. This includes not only to dissolve the company, but the inadequate option that the company be “reorganized such that no agent, officer or representative found to have engaged in actions in furtherance of retains a position within the defendant business or nonprofit entity,” among other sections addressing individual defendants as opposed to the corporate entity itself. 

Corporate executives and attorneys have for more than a century hijacked several Constitutional Amendments intended to apply solely to human beings claiming never-intended corporate “constitutional rights” — that is, that the corporate entity is a separate legal “person” apart from individuals connecting to it. 

While individual FirstEnergy defendants have claimed their innocence, the corporate entity has admitted its guilt, no doubt expecting that a small fine and housecleaning of a few executives and board members will be sufficient “punishment.” 

Individuals connected to the historic FirstEnergy bribery scandal absolutely must be held accountable. So does the self-described corporate “person.” The appropriate response to affirm the power, authority and right of We the People to define and hold accountable our legal creations is the dissolution of the corporation.

Video: Dennis Kucinich on Pulling the Plug on FirstEnergy Corporation

August 23, 2022

Presentation by and discussion with Dennis Kucinich

Former Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio State Senator, U.S. Congressperson and Presidential Candidate

Author of The Division of Light and Power

Sponsored by Ohio Move to Amend

ohio@movetoamend.org

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Background to the scandal and the call for dissolving the charter (license) of FirstEnergy Corporation

To reclaim Ohioans’ historical power, First Energy’s corporate charter should be revoked

March 2, 2022

First Energy dissolution? An historic opportunity to remove key player in corrupt political culture

April 1, 2022

Sam Randazzo, ex-FirstEnergy executives added as defendants in Ohio AG’s House Bill 6 lawsuit

August 5, 2022

Federal prosecutor asks Ohio utilities commission to freeze investigations into House Bill 6 scandal

August 17, 2022

Nothing new? Records show startling new info on DeWine, Husted roles in Ohio bailout scandal

August 18, 2022

FirstEnergy official: Larry Householder, Sam Randazzo, ex-company executives conspired to break federal law

August 25, 2022

Revoke FirstEnergy’s corporate charter – unpublished letter


Unpublished letter to cleveland.com submitted several weeks ago…

I agree that the state needs to end HB6 coal subsidies and investigate utility influence of PUCO – as proposed in your January 9 editorial. Also needed are criminal investigations against public officials and leaders at FirstEnergy corporation. But also essential is for Ohio Attorney General David Yost to initiate proceedings to revoke FirstEnergy’s corporate charter. This was demanded in a recent letter to Yost by seven groups, based on the corporation’s admitted involvement in the $60 million bribery and money laundering scheme that defrauded taxpayers, bailed out climate-destroying coal plants and threatened representative democracy. 

Corporations receive charter from governments, which grants them certain privileges and powers. Corporations that admittedly break the law so stunningly should not simply be fined, but have their charters terminated. 

Charter revocation was once common in Ohio in response to companies that acted “beyond their authority.” It was a democratic tool by legislatures and courts to affirm people’s sovereign power over these government creations. The most famous historic example was the effort by Ohio AG David Watson, a Republican, to revoke Standard Oil of Ohio’s charter.

FirstEnergy has forfeited its privilege to exist. Yost, like his Republican predecessor, needs to take immediate action to protect people, the environment and democracy. 

Greg Coleridge

Outreach Director, Move to Amend

FirstEnergy should be put out of business

July 3, 2021

[click on article to enlargen]

FirstEnergy should be put out of business
Columbus Dispatch, July 3, 2021
USA Today Network
https://createrealdemocracy.wordpress.com/2021/07/07/first-energy-should-be-put-out-of-business/

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.”

Talking Democracy on Oct. 12

MV-Today-masthead_clear-1024x233

https://www.miamivalleysunday.com/2019/09/12/talking-democracy-on-oct-12/

TROY—Greg Coleridge, national outreach director for the non-partisan, grassroots coalition Move to Amend, will be the featured speaker at “Stand Up for Democracy,” 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Lincoln Community Center, 110 Ash St. The program is hosted by We The People Miami County and Move to Amend.

Also speaking will be Mary Sue Gmeiner, affiliate coordinator of Greater Dayton Move to Amend. Representatives from area justice and peace organizations will be on hand to share information about their work and ways for people to get involved.

The program will begin with the screening of the 30-minute documentary “Legalize Democracy.” Gmeiner will explain how corporate power relates to the issues faced by the participating justice and peace organizations. Coleridge will discuss solutions to the problem of corporate dominance in politics and offer suggestions for restoring the voice of the people. A Q&A will follow.

In addition to his work with Move to Amend, Coleridge is a principal leader of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) and an advisor to the American Monetary Institute (AMI). He previously served on the national governing board of Common Cause. For more than three decades, Coleridge worked with the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio. He is the author of “Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio” and “Challenges to Freedom in the Future” and script writer for the documentary “CorpOrNation: The Story of Citizens and Corporations in Ohio.”

Move to Amend is a national, non-partisan grassroots affiliation of people and organizations working for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that makes clear constitutional rights belong to human beings only and money spent on elections is not a protected form of speech and shall be regulated. We The People Miami County is a local ad hoc working group in partnership with Move to Amend

For questions or more information about We the People Miami County, contact wethepeoplemiamicounty@gmail.com. For information on Move to Amend, visit movetoamend.org.

 

Cleveland citizens decry impact of Citizens United case at first Democracy Day hearing

DemocracyDay

Hearing prompts calls to curb corporate campaign influence

By Robert Higgs, cleveland.com

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/05/cleveland_citizens_decry_impac.html#incart_river_home

April 10: Corporate charter revoked

April10

Expanded quote:

“The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world. In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern.”

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#TheDemocracyCalendar #EndCorporateRule #CorporateRule #GetMoneyOut #Democracy #WeThePeopleAmendment #MovetoAmend

Interview on Move to Amend

Coleridge

Dan & Brian sit down with Greg Coleridge of Move to Amend. Greg’s group is part of a nationwide movement seeking to undo corporate personhood. This is in response to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 which effectively allowed unlimited spending by corporations in politics. Move to Amend is working to create local and regional pressure on Congress to amend the Constitution. It’s a really great interview!