Ohio Republicans fell hard on colleague Larry Householder in light of a surprise indictment on federal racketeering charges pertaining to a $60 million legislative bribery scheme carried out over the course of several years.
According to NPR, Householder, a longtime GOP state representative and two-time speaker in the state General Assembly, was arrested Tuesday morning by FBI operatives in his rural home after allegedly turning a major profit on the July 2019 passage of a nuclear energy bailout deemed favorable by special interests.
Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes were also arrested in connection to the racket. Court filings reportedly indicate that each of the five faces up to 20 years imprisonment for “conspiracy to participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of an enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity.”
Partisan political alliances did not, however, prevent Borges’ successor, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken, from speaking out against those charged and calling for the resignation of involved Republican colleagues.
“I was shocked, saddened and quite frankly angry when I heard about the criminal charges against Larry Householder and others,” Timken said in a video statement. “Because these particular charges involve members of my party, some might expect me to remain silent or attempt to avoid commenting. Whoever thinks that doesn’t know me and doesn’t know the Ohio Republican Party that I lead.
“We stand for accountability and the rule of law. And those crucial American values must apply to everyone – Republican, Democrat and independent alike.
“I understand and respect the presumption of innocence. All charges filed must be proven in a court of law. These are basic legal rights. However, there is no right to hold public office. This is a privilege extended by the people of Ohio to officeholders. It’s a higher calling and requires a higher level of responsibility. That’s why I’m calling on Larry Householder to step down as Speaker of the House and resign as a legislator,” she added.
“He will now face his own reckoning.”
Nonprofit political organization Generation Now was also reportedly fingered in the FBI’s investigation of Householder.
The entity, described by prosecuting U.S. Attorney David DeVillers as having been “secretly controlled by Householder,” was allegedly used by an unnamed nuclear power production company between March 2017 and March 2020 to fund the representative’s second bid for speaker — in exchange for legislative favors.
Householder had first entered the Ohio legislature in 1997, serving for four years as a general assemblyman and three more as House speaker before stepping away from the body to serve as Perry County auditor due to term restrictions.
The public figure faced an uphill battle to return to the state legislature and rise, once again, to the role of speaker a decade later.
Federal prosecutors allege Householder leveled the political playing field for himself, however, by using Generation Now to accept $60 million in donations from the unnamed nuclear power production company and weaponize it against potential opponents.
“Make no mistake, [Generation Now] is Larry Householder’s,” Devillers said, his office writing in its legal complaint. “In the Spring and Fall of 2018, the Enterprise spent millions in Company A money to support House candidates involved in primary and general elections whom the Enterprise believed both would vote for Householder as Speaker and, ultimately, would follow his lead as Speaker and vote for bailout legislation for Company A.”
Upon reclaiming speakership in January 2019, Householder saw nuclear bailout legislation introduced to the General Assembly in the way of House Bill 6 — which would benefit the unnamed company to the tune of $1.3 billion.
According to the Department of Justice, payments from the energy company to Generation Now grew following the introduction of House Bill 6, and at several other key points in which the legislation seemed to stall or rapidly move forward.
The bill, which resulted in larger-than-usual energy costs among state residents, was incredibly unpopular upon passage and Householder seems to have played a key roll in campaigning against fall 2019 ballot initiatives to see the legislation overturned.
Householder was reportedly subject to corruption-related investigations in 2004 as well but faced no charges at the time.
DeVillers went on to refer to the representative’s present legal predicament as “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio” when charges were filed Tuesday afternoon, NBC News reported.
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.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) July 21, 2020
Like Timken, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine was outspoken in calling for Householder’s resignation Tuesday.
“I am deeply concerned about the allegations of wrongdoing issued today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Every American has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty,” DeWine wrote on Twitter shortly after the news broke. “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,” the governor added.
Republicans did not paint with a broad brush, however, reminding state residents that corruption has never been exclusive to one political party or movement. Timken concluded her firm Tuesday statement by calling out her Democratic Party counterpart David Pepper for alleged failure to address corruption among his own colleagues.
“In recent months, the FBI and federal prosecutors have charged numerous high-ranking Democrat elected officials in Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo for corruption offenses. I was disappointed when my counterpart, Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper, refused to address those serious scandals,” Timken said. “Greed, lust for power and disdain for ethical boundaries are not unique to any particular party. If our country is to endure these difficult and divisive times, we must unite in the notion that people who break the law should be held accountable.”
“The Ohio Republican Party strongly condemns this corrupt system that has far too long reared its ugly head in Columbus. As a party that prides itself in leading the right way, the political elite have failed too often by allowing these corrupt and shameful individuals to have a place in our party,” she added.
“All Republicans need to take a hard look at who they surround themselves with and root out this type of corruption and greed from our party.
The Western Journal reached out to Householder’s office and the Ohio GOP for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
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