Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was convicted in Ohio’s largest bribery scandal on Thursday. He could face up to twenty years in prison.
Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, and Matt Borges, the former Ohio Republican Party Chairman, were convicted in Ohio’s largest bribery scandal on Thursday. They could face up to twenty years in prison.
- Householder and Borges were both accused of taking a $60 million bribe from FirstEnergy in return for passing a nuclear plant bailout that would’ve benefitted the energy company.
- Householder had previously maintained his innocence but the jury returned a guilty verdict shortly before 2 pm on Tuesday.
- “The government proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that Householder and his enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering,” according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
- “The conspiracy involved nearly $61 million in bribes paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.”
- “Today, the public’s interest triumphed over self-interest, the system worked and justice was done,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, whose name frequently came up at the trial due to his close connections with Borges.
- “Larry Householder illegally sold the statehouse, and thus he ultimately betrayed the great people of Ohio he was elected to serve,” said Kenneth Parker, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
- “Matt Borges was a willing co-conspirator, who paid bribe money for insider information to assist Householder. Through its verdict today, the jury reaffirmed that the illegal acts committed by both men will not be tolerated and that they should be held accountable.”
- Axios called the corruption trial “one of the largest government scandals in state history.” The case tainted several Ohio Republicans, including Gov. Mike DeWine, whose administration had close ties to those involved in the crimes. DeWine has declined to comment on the convictions.
- CBS News noted Householder was once one of Ohio’s most powerful politicians until the GOP-led House booted him from the legislature after his indictment. Householder was the first lawmaker expelled from the Ohio legislature in 150 years.
- CNN pointed out FirstEnergy Corp. had to agree to pay a $230 million fine for “conspiring to bribe public officials and others” as part of a deferred prosecution agreement for funneling millions to Householder so he could spread money around to support the nuclear plant bailout.
- The Wall Street Journal observed the defense’s plan to use the Citizens United Supreme Court decision to claim the bribes were ordinary contributions fell flat. The plan failed to stop the two Ohio Republicans’ convictions for racketeering and conspiracy.
- Fox News noted the verdict comes 2.5 years after the pair were first arrested in 2020. Borges, then working as a lobbyist, was accused of bribing an operative for insider information on a state referendum to overturn the nuclear bailout law at the center of the controversy.
- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette summarized Householder’s scheme: to use his political action committee – “secretly funded by FirstEnergy Corp. to secure his power in the Legislature, elect his allies — and then to pass and defend legislation that delivered a $1 billion nuclear power plant bailout to the Akron-based electric utility.”
© Dominic Moore, 2023