COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s elections chief said Friday that he has amended his massive list of campaign finance violations against suspects in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme to include five additional allegations against former House Speaker Larry Householder.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said a routine examination of state filings by Householder, a fellow Republican, showed five individuals exceeded legal giving limits between March 11, 2019, and January 15, 2020.
“Make no mistake,” LaRose said in a statement. “My team will remain vigilant in our reviews of all campaign finance records, no matter who you are.”
A message seeking comment was left Friday with Householder’s attorney.
Householder, who has been ousted as speaker but remains a state representative, and four others were arrested and indicted in July 2020 on federal racketeering charges for what has been called the biggest corruption scandal in state history.
Householder is accused of leading a bribery scheme secretly funded by the utility FirstEnergy to get a $1 billion nuclear bailout bill approved and to conduct a dirty tricks campaign to prevent a referendum on the bill from reaching the ballot.
Householder has pleaded not guilty while two of his alleged co-conspirators — long-time political adviser Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyist Juan Cespedes — have entered guilty pleas.
LaRose said Cespedes is one of five donors he has referred to the Ohio Elections Commission. Cespedes contributed $1,000 to Householder in June 2019 and $13,292 that November, exceeding an aggregate contribution cap by close to $1,000.
“The hits just keep on coming,” LaRose said. “These alleged repeated violations by Rep. Householder aren’t just a violation of state law, it’s a direct insult against the people of his district and the people of Ohio.”
LaRose said he also withdrew a number of allegations he had forwarded to the commission earlier, which had numbered more than 180.
Upon review, his office found the withdrawn allegations were likely permissible PAC contributions rather than impermissible corporate contributions, LaRose said. The withdrawn allegations included donations to the Ohio House Republican Caucus’ campaign committee and its treasurer, as well as the government’s “Representative 3.” That person has been identified as state Rep. Jamie Callendar, a co-sponsor of the tainted legislation.