Householder’s candidates by and large won, Householder became speaker in January 2019, and FirstEnergy got its bailout package worth $1.3 billion when House Bill 6 was signed into law in July 2019.
From March 2017 to March 2020, Akron-based FirstEnergy and its entities paid Householder’s Enterprise nearly $61 million in secret payments in exchange for the billion-dollar bailout, according to federal prosecutors.
In this May 6, 2020 photo, Speaker Larry Householder starts a new session during an Ohio House session at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. The powerful Republican speaker of the Ohio House and four other people were arrested Tuesday in a $60 million federal bribery investigation, a person briefed on the matter said, as the FBI raided the legislative leader's rural farm. (Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
Credit: Kyle Robertson
Credit: Kyle Robertson
How did the feds find this out?
They have lobbyists, lawmakers and others on tape. They subpoenaed bank records. They looked at text messages and phone records. They interviewed legislators and informants.
The money was funneled through Generation Now, a dark money 501(c)4 organization controlled by Householder, the complaint says.
“The millions paid are akin to bags of cash — unlike campaign or PAC contributions, they were not regulated, not reported, not subject to public scrutiny — and the Enterprise freely spent the bribe payments to further the Enterprise’s political interests and to enrich themselves,” wrote Wetzel, a former legislative aide who worked in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Opponents of HB6 — a coalition of environmental groups, free market advocates and competing utilities — launched a referendum campaign to ask Ohio voters to overturn the new law.
FirstEnergy and Householder’s Enterprise fought back. From July 24 to Oct 22, 2019 — the window for the referendum campaign — the energy corporation wired more than $38 million to Generation Now to defeat the ballot initiative, prosecutors said.
That cash was used to mount a fierce counter-campaign that included ads, mailers, alleged bribes and pay offs for referendum signature collectors.
The referendum campaign failed to gather enough signatures within its deadline.