Grand jury indicts Ohio House speaker, 4 others in bribery case

Larry Householder
Posted at 9:54 AM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 12:14:32-04

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and four other people in a bribery case, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio.

The Republican speaker of the Ohio House and four associates were arrested on July 21 in a $60 million federal bribery case connected to a taxpayer-funded bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants. The 43-page indictment was returned on July 29 and filed Thursday.

Hours after FBI agents raided Householder’s farm, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the ploy as “likely the largest bribery scheme ever perpetrated against the state of Ohio.”

Householder was one of the driving forces behind the nuclear plants’ financial rescue, which added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

Previous attempts to bail out the nuclear plants had stalled in the Legislature before Householder became speaker. Months after taking over, he rolled out a new plan to subsidize the plants and eliminate renewable energy incentives. The proposal was approved a year ago despite opposition from many business leaders and the manufacturing industry.

The four others indicted were:

  • Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley, a lobbyist who previously served as chair of the Ohio Republican Party
  • Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus, Householder’s longtime campaign and political strategist
  • Neil Clark, 67, of Columbus, a lobbyist who owns and operates Grant Street Consultants and previously served as budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus
  • Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus, a multi-client lobbyist

In addition to Householder and his associates, Generation Now, a corporate entity registered as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, was previously charged.

The enterprise is accused of conspiring to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud.

A criminal complaint filed by the FBI says Generation Now received $60 million from an unidentified company over the past three years. In exchange, Householder and the other defendants worked to pass the nuclear plant bailout and block attempts to overturn it.

Householder and the others used the money to preserve and expand his political power in Ohio, a complaint said.