Biggest Bribery and Money Laundering Scandal In Ohio History
CINCINNATI – A jury on Thursday convicted ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges of taking part in a bribery scheme prosecutors say was engineered to pass a $1.3 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants owned by a subsidiary of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.
Generation Now spent that money engineering Householder’s rise to power, passing legislation that charges ratepayers to bail out the plants, and thwarting an attempt to repeal the bill. About $514,000 from Generation Now also paid down Householder’s legal debts, credit card bills, and repairs to his Florida home, according to bank records shown at trial.
Federal prosecutors in July 2020 accused Householder, 63, a Republican who was then one of the most powerful politicians in state government, of secretly controlling Generation Now, a nonprofit that received $61 million from FirstEnergy.
Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was accused of receiving $61 million in bribes in exchange for passing a $1 billion nuclear power plant bailout bill.
FirstEnergy, who owned the nuclear plants, a lobbyist connected to the utility, and a Republican political strategist have all admitted to their role in a bribery scheme that funneled tens of millions of dollars through a series of dark money groups that ultimately landed in a 501(c)4 called Generation Now, allegedly controlled by Larry Householder.
Akron-based FirstEnergy and other utilities paid tens of millions into an effort to elect friendly lawmakers in 2018 who would vote to make Householder speaker the following year. Immediately after taking the speaker’s gavel, Householder worked furiously to pass a $1.3 billion bailout, the vast majority of which benefited FirstEnergy subsidiary FirstEnergy Services. The company was being dragged down by losses from its nuclear and coal plants and executives were seeking a bailout.
When opponents started gathering signatures to repeal the bailout law, House Bill 6, FirstEnergy poured $36 million into an effort to block it. Householder took control of the push to block the repeal, while Borges assisted — both by pressuring Attorney General Dave Yost and by paying $15,000 for inside information about the petition campaign.
Both men face maximum sentences of 20 years.