To Reclaim Historic Power From Ohioans, First Energy’s Corporate Charter Should Be Revoked
Illegalities related to FirstEnergy Corporation in its bribery scheme to pass House Bill 6 (HB 6) continue to surface, most recently its inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money to fund shady money efforts totaling $70.9 million.
Several people have already pleaded guilty for their roles in the biggest corruption scandal in Ohio history. Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, the head of the ring overseeing the corruption scheme, and another co-defendant maintain their innocence and await trial. Anyone found guilty of corrupting the political process must be held fully accountable for their actions, which should include significant jail time and the end of their political and lobbying career.
What about FirstEnergy Corporation, which admitted to paying tens of millions of dollars to Generation Now, the front group controlled by Householder? These funds did not come out of the pockets of FirstEnergy executives. These were corporate funds – funneled from FirstEnergy’s treasury to the network run by Householder.
Paying fines and replacing a few guys from the downfall of the company does not come close to damaging our representative government, economy and environment by defrauding Ohio taxpayers across Ohio of a billion dollars to bail out two antiquated nuclear power plants – rather than investing in renewables – and the ruthless shutdown of the grassroots Democratic referendum campaign to overthrow HB 6.
Regardless of other federal actions and lawsuits against responsible individuals, Ohio Attorney General David Yost can and should initiate charter revocation proceedings (known as a “quo warranto”) against FirstEnergy, a legal creation Licensed in the State of Ohio as provided by Ohio Revised Code § 2733.02 through § 2733.39. Several groups in Ohio are calling for this actiona process that would dissolve the company.
What guarantee is a legal proceeding challenging the continuing right of an individual or corporation to possess a governmental privilege, whether a charge in the case of an individual or a charter in the case of a a society.
Companies must serve the public good. They receive their charter from the government, which grants them certain privileges and powers. Companies that break the law and do so with intent should not simply be fined, as FirstEnergy Corporation was, but have their charters revoked or terminated. Every day we see that fines do not change the criminal behavior of companies.
Corporate charter revocation was once common in Ohio in response to corporations acting beyond their authority as defined in their corporate charters. What guarantee the procedures were once used regularly as a democratic tool by the legislatures and courts of Ohio to assert the sovereign power of We the People on corporations, which are, after all, creations of government.
The most known what guarantee case in Ohio history involved efforts to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company, the most powerful American corporation at the time, for the formation of a trust. In the 1892 argument to revoke his franchise, a Republican predecessor of Yost, Ohio Attorney General David Watson argued:
“Or a society, That is directly Where indirectly, submit for the domination of a agency unknown for the law, Where identifies himself with and unite in wearing outside a OK whose performance East detrimental for the public, this so insulted vs the law of his creation and packages all law for his franchise, and judgement of expulsion should to be Between vs this.”
Revoking the charter is seen by some as a “radical” act when in reality it is simply following a strong historical precedent already set in our state. The truly “radical” act is a rogue corporation that blatantly tramples our democratic process.
FirstEnergy has no inherent “right” to exist. We the People hold the ultimate authority and power to hold him accountable. Revoking its corporate charter is the only way to ultimately protect the health, safety and welfare of Ohioans and democracy in Ohio. It is a democratic response equivalent to the scale of the company’s anti-democratic actions.
FirstEnergy lost its public privilege to continue. Electricity may be provided publicly, as in many states, or by cooperatives rather than private commercial companies.
Commencing a charter revocation action against FirstEnergy Corporation claims that We the People and our elected representatives have and should use this democratic tool to ensure that corporations are ultimately subordinate to us. It will also act as a deterrent to others connected to the companies who believe they can act illegally, while still being protected by the companies’ legal shield.
Attorney General Yost, like his Republican predecessor, must take immediate action to protect people, the environment and the few genuine democratic rights We the People of Ohio still retain.
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