Catch up quick on the Larry Householder corruption trial
The highly anticipated corruption trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder begins Monday in Cincinnati.
Why it matters: The case involves what a former federal prosecutor once called "likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme ever in the state of Ohio."
- The scandal cost taxpayers millions and is a sign Ohioans may want to keep a closer watch on our local Capitol Square amid shadowy dealmaking.
Catch up quick: Householder is accused of conspiring with Akron-based FirstEnergy in a pay-for-play scandal to bail out two private nuclear power plants with a $1 billion bill in 2019.
- Millions in dark money went toward electing Householder-friendly lawmakers across the state — who then elevated him to the speaker's chair — and fighting a petition to repeal the bailout.
- The Perry County official also used the money to pay off private credit card debt, legal fees and home expenses, investigators allege.
- He was later ousted as speaker and expelled from the legislature.
State of play: Two others, including a former Householder associate, have already pleaded guilty and plan to testify against him.
- In 2021, FirstEnergy agreed to a deferred prosecution settlement. For acknowledging having paid Householder in exchange for beneficial legislation, it agreed to pay a $230 million settlement.
- The "dark money" group that concealed the funding's sources pleaded guilty to racketeering in 2021 as well.
- The only other defendant to plead not guilty, former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, also goes on trial this week.
- An additional defendant, lobbyist Neil Clark, died by suicide in 2021.
The other side: Householder has maintained innocence since his July 2020 arrest.
- “I have not nor have I ever taken a bribe or solicited or been solicited for taking a bribe,” he told legislative colleagues before they voted to expel him.
Separately, Gov. Mike DeWine has denied knowledge of the alleged scheme despite myriad connections between his administration and FirstEnergy.
- Having supported the initial nuclear bailout, he later signed a bill repealing it.
Of note: In the years since the scandal broke, lawmakers have attempted to reform state campaign finance rules to be more transparent.
What's next: The trial is expected to last up to six weeks, AP reports.
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