Text messages confirmed how hard the DeWine administration lobbied for two nuclear bailouts at the center of Ohio’s largest public corruption scandal. New numbers show a rise in mental health issues for children, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan tries a run down the middle.
We break down what it all means on this week’s episode of Ohio Politics Explained.
It’s a podcast from the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau where we catch you up on the state’s political news in 15 minutes or less. This week, host Anna Staver was joined by reporter Laura Bischoff.
1) Support for First Energy
New text messages released this week confirmed Gov. Mike DeWine is “State Official 1” in the FirstEnergy’s deferred prosecution agreement and “State Official 2” is Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
The Akron-based utility company came under fire in July 2020 after federal investigators arrested former House Speaker Larry Householder on corruption and racketeering charges, alleging he and others accepted millions in bribes from the company in exchange for passing a nuclear bailout bill.
The messages claim Husted was in First Energy’s corner “fighting to the end” as the now repealed bailout moved through the legislature in 2019.
2) Middle of the road Ryan?
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan wants to be the next U.S. senator from Ohio; a tough task for a Democrat in a state former President Donald Trump won by 8% in 2020.
The Mahoning Valley native is running hard to the middle or for what he calls the “exhausted majority.” People who are tired of candidates running to the far left and far right.
J.D. Vance, Ryan’s Republican opponent, says the Democrat is “gaslighting” voters about his record, and progressive voters worry the congressman may be courting the middle at their expense.
3) The kids might not be alright
The annual KIDS COUNT data book released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed rates of depression and/or anxiety for Ohio’s children increased 42% from 2016 to 2020.
Chronic absenteeism also “skyrocketed” from 2019 to 2021 when one in four children missed at least 10% of the academic year. And the statistics for children of color and those in Appalachia were significantly worse than their white, suburban counterparts.
4) Reaction to the raid
Ohio Republicans largely agreed with former President Donald Trump’s position that the raid on his Mar-a-Lago home was a political ploy.
The former president cast Monday night’s search by federal agents as a “weaponization of the Justice System” orchestrated to keep him from running for reelection in 2024.
Vance said “haggling over some documents” doesn’t justify the search, but Ryan said “no person is above the rule of law.”
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