A major bribery and pay-to-play scheme was uncovered on Tuesday and the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry Householder, has been charged and called on to resign.
Householder agreed to conjure votes to bail out two of Ohio’s nuclear power plants, owned by a company based in Akron, Energy Harbor, formerly FirstEnergy Solutions, at the last minute and save the facilities. When a referendum threatened the law, Householder organized an effort to disrupt and quash the petition. This was all part of a larger $60mm bribery and pay-to-play scheme.
Householder and his co-conspirators pushed the bailout in exchange for large payments, campaign contributions, and other benefits to fund his bid to become Speaker. At a recent news conference, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers stated, “This was bribery, plain and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay-to-play”. DeVillers also mentions that there was a “strong inference” that it was Householder that initially reached out to FirstEnergy during his campaign bid noting “This enterprise went looking for someone to bribe them”.
Not only did Householder benefit from the political contributions made by FirstEnergy, but FirstEnergy benefited with both the nuclear bailout and slashed subsidies for renewable energy.
This is only the beginning of an in depth pay-to-play and bribery investigation with nearly 20 possible campaign finance violations. Householder and others involved were charged and face serious jail time.