COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Ohio Speaker of the House and four associates have been charged with receiving approximately $60 million to pass and uphold a bill that funneled state funds to two failing nuclear power plants.
- Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, 61, of Glenford, Ohio
- Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley, Ohio, a lobbyist who previously served as chair of the Ohio Republican Party
- Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus, Householder’s longtime campaign and political strategist
- Neil Clark, 67, of Columbus, a lobbyist who owns and operates Grant Street Consultants and previously served as budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus
- Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus, a multi-client lobbyist
Generation Now, a corporate entity registered as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, was also charged.
The group is charged with conspiring to violate a federal racketeering statute through wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes, and money laundering.
According to the criminal complaint, from March 2017 to March 2020, the group received millions of dollars in exchange for the group’s help in passing House Bill 6, a billion-dollar law that included money given to two Ohio nuclear power plants in an effort to keep them open.
U.S. Attorney for Ohio’s Southern District David M. DeVillers said 2019’s House Bill 6 was passed with tens of millions of dollars hidden from the people of Ohio.
2019’s House Bill 6 was a “Clean Air Act” that contained a bailout for two nuclear power plants managed by FirstEnergy. There was a controversial effort to block it from going into effect that included accusations of assault on petitioners, bribery, and scare ads involving China. The bill eventually passed through the statehouse and was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine last summer.
The complaint alleges that Householder began receiving $250,000 quarterly payments into Generation Now from an unnamed energy company. The defendants then allegedly spent millions of those dollars to support Householder’s bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.
Devillers said that in 2018, the enterprise spent energy company-to-Generation Now money on approximately 21 different state candidates – 15, including Householder, in the primary and six additional candidates in the general election, spending more than $1 million to air negative ads against their opponents. All who won their election voted for Householder to serve as Speaker.
“Millions of dollars went to those candidates to attack their rivals,” DeVillers said.
According to DeVillers’ office, the group also worked to ensure the bill went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative which sought to overturn the bill. The group received approximately $60 million into Generation Now from an energy company and its affiliated during that three year period of time.
DeVillers alleges Longstreth incorporated Generation Now in February 2017, with the intent the organization promote energy independence and economic development. However, the entity was allegedly controlled in secret by Householder.
Householder is also alleged to have received more than $400,000 in personal benefits from Generation Now, including funds to settle a personal lawsuit, to pay for costs associated with a home in Florida, and to pay off thousands in credit card debt, DeVillers office said.
In addition, the group is alleged to have paid $15,000 to a person to provide insider information about a ballot initiative that sought to overturn House Bill 6, as well as paying signature collectors for the ballot initiative $2,500 case and plane fair to stop gathering signatures.
Householder was in court for an initial court appearance Tuesday. His preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 6 at 1:30 p.m. He has been release on his own recognizance. While released, he is to have no firearms, his travel is limited to the southern district of Ohio, and is to have no contact with his co-defendants.
DeVillers said the matter is still under investigation and more charges and/or arrests may be possible.
“There are a lot of benefits other than money going directly to people, power-wise as far as their campaigns, things to benefit their campaigns,” DeVillers said. “It didn’t actually go into their campaign funds much like a PAC or Super PAC does, but this is not a PAC or Super PAC. This was created completely and utterly to hide where their donor came from.”
FBI agents were carrying out “law enforcement activity” on Householder’s property in Glenford in southeastern Ohio, FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren said, without providing details. The Perry County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed it was assisting the FBI at Householder’s farm.
Governor Mike DeWine called for the resignation of Householder.
“I am deeply concerned about the allegations of wrongdoing in the criminal complaint issued today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Every American has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Because of the nature of these charges, it will be impossible for Speaker Householder to effectively lead the Ohio House of Representatives; therefore, I am calling on Speaker Householder to resign immediately. “This is a sad day for Ohio.”Gov. Mike DeWine
The full indictment against Householder is below. App users, click here.