Consumers' Counsel

New consumers' counsel cracking down on freebies

Not even a box of cookies is safe for Ohio's new consumers' counsel. A state investigation scolded the previous consumers' counsel for improperly accepting gifts and gratuities from utility representatives. The consumers' counsel represents residential customers in utility rate cases before state regulators. Now Janine Midgen-Ostrander has been putting in new policies, including one that blocks employees from accepting meals, gifts and other freebies.

When an attorney with the agency received a box of Cheryl's Cookies as thanks for speaking to an Ohio Cable Television Association Conference, he returned them. Midgen-Ostrander says it's up to her to show that that things are going to be different now.