Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder arrested with 4 others in $60M bribery case in N-power plant bailout plan
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested along with four others on Tuesday as part of a $60 million federal bribery investigation, a source familiar with the investigation has confirmed. The details of the case will be outlined at a briefing later Tuesday by U.S. Attorney David DeVillers’ office, according to the Associated Press.
The source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, listed among others arrested Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth, longtime Statehouse lobbyist Neil Clark, former Ohio Republican Party chairman and consultant Matthew Borges and Juan Cespedes, co-founder of The Oxley Group in Columbus. A sixth person, who is yet to be identified, was also sought.
Hours ahead of the government’s scheduled announcement, FBI agents were already present at the farm of Ohio Speaker Householder on Tuesday morning. FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren said agents were carrying out “law enforcement activity” on Householder’s property in Glenford in southeastern Ohio, but did not provide any further details. They were reportedly assisted by the Perry County Sheriff’s Office at Householder's farm. DeVillers' office planned to announce “charges related to $60 million bribes to state official & associates" at the upcoming news conference, Lindgren noted. Householder is currently in his second stint as House speaker. He previously held the same position from 2001 to 2004.
According to Cleveland.com, the investigation into the Republican lawmaker revolves around House Bill 6, a $1 billion bailout plan for two Ohio nuclear power plants—which Householder notably helped push through last year. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine in June, immediately faced efforts to overturn the sizeable bailout.
But efforts towards nullifying the bill failed after being met with resistance from a number of influential and cash-rich groups, one of them being Generation Now. According to the Daily Beast, the company has deep ties to Householder and is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit—which means it can "engage in political advocacy without disclosing its donors."
Generation Now has been described as "one node of a Householder-linked Columbus political machine" that funneled millions of dollars to his allies by way of untraceable political contributions.
"Generation Now provided more than $1 million during the 2018 cycle to a political group, Growth & Opportunity PAC, that spent the funds in support of a number of Householder allies," according to the outlet. "The PAC has received another $1.1 million since last year from a similarly named dark money group, the Coalition for Growth and Opportunity. The PAC has once again spent that money on ads backing Householder allies in Ohio."
Householder returned to state politics after more than a decade ago in 2016. He had previously left because of term limits.
According to the AP, the veteran lawmaker and several top advisers were under federal investigation for alleged money laundering and dubious campaign practices at the time he left office. However, the case was abruptly closed without filing charges.
Householder returned to the Ohio House four years ago and went on to become House speaker in 2019.