Ohio House Speaker And 4 Lobbyists Arrested In $60M Bribery Case

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Larry Householder, No. 1 in the Ohio House of Representatives and third in line to the governor, was arrested with four lobbyists in connection to a $60 million bribery case. Householder speaks in Columbus, Ohio, March 5, 2019. FBI agents were at Householder’s farm on Tuesday ahead of a planned announcement of a $60 million bribe investigation by federal prosecutors. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

Larry Householder, the most powerful member of the Ohio House of Representatives and third in line to the office of the governor, was arrested Tuesday along with four lobbyists in connection with a $60 million bribery case.

The four lobbyists arrested include the following, Cincinatti.com reported:

  • Neil Clark, founder of Grant Street Consultants and once called by USA Today “one of the best-connected lobbyists in Columbus”
  • Former Ohio Republican Party chairman and consultant Matthew Borges
  • Juan Cespedes, co-founder of The Oxley Group in Columbus;
  • Jeffrey Longstreth, adviser to Householder

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney David DeVillers’ office described the case as a “public corruption racketeering conspiracy involving $60 million.”

The arrests were connected to House Bill 6, the FirstEnergy nuclear bailout bill that was passed by the Ohio legislature and signed in 2019 by Gov. Mike DeWine, a source told ABCNews6.

One of the biggest names in Ohio politics, Householder has been a major player in the state’s Republican Party, Cincinnati.com reported.

This isn’t the first time Householder has been investigated while serving as Ohio’s House speaker. During his first House speaker term from 2001 to 2004, the FBI launched an investigation into allegations that Householder and his aides traded legislation for campaign contributions and took kickbacks from vendors. No charges were filed and the investigation ended in 2006.

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Householder staged a comeback. Taking advantage of GOP infighting, he returned to the speaker’s post on Jan. 7, 2019, with the help of Democrats in a controversial vote. A letter written by legislative aide Marissa Reyes a day before the vote accused Householder supporters of racist and sexist comments.

In his latest stint as speaker, Householder oversaw the controversial, Republican-led bailout of two northern Ohio nuclear power plants. House Bill 6 used ratepayer fees to fund the $1 billion bailout.

The fight to approve the money was long and expensive, continuing even after the bill became law. An effort to overturn the bailout failed thanks to well-funded resistance, Cincinnati.com reported. One group was a dark money operation called Generation Now, a 501(c)(4) that did not have to disclose donors under federal law. The group hired people to block and stall signature collectors who opposed the bailout.

The second group, Ohioans for Energy Security, paid for millions in advertisements, including ads that alleged the Chinese were taking over Ohio’s power grid.