A federal jury convicted a former Ohio lawmaker and an accomplice last week for a massive bribery scheme intended to keep two struggling Ohio reactors financially afloat.
Former House speaker Larry Householder, 63, and former Ohio Republican Party chairman Mathew Borges, 50, face potential sentences of up to 20 years in prison. The trial lasted seven weeks.
“Larry Householder illegally sold the statehouse, and thus he ultimately betrayed the great people of Ohio he was elected to serve,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker of the Southern district of Ohio in a press release. “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.”
“The FBI’s top criminal priority is investigating public corruption to hold elected officials accountable when they commit illegal acts,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers in the same release.
In 2020, the FBI arrested Householder, three lobbyists and a former campaign chairman on money laundering charges. Householder and Borges fought the charges. Two of the five have pleaded guilty. One lobbyist, Neil Clark, killed himself in early 2021.
FirstEnergy Corp. settled with the federal government and the state. According to the settlement agreement, the company acknowledged that it paid $60 million to bribe Householder and the other four. FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million fine and to cooperate fully with the feds and state on all follow-up matters.
The bulk of the bribes allegedly went through two intermediary non-profit organizations — Partners for Progress and Generation Now, both incorporated in Delaware.
The money was to elect a slate of freshman legislators who would put Householder in charge of the Ohio House in order to pass a bill into law that would raise rates on all Ohio utility customers. The measure, House Bill 6, would provide $150 million in annual subsidies to help FirstEnergy’s financially struggling Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
The Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill. 6 in 2019. It rescinded the law after the scandal erupted. Householder was evicted from the House.