The utility corruption trial of the century
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black canceled court proceedings for the Householder trial for the rest of the week after one of the jurors tested positive for COVID-19. Trial is postponed until Monday, January 30.
FirstEnergy’s treasurer Steven Staub testifies on January 24 that the utility was “just bleeding cash” when it pursued a $1.3 billion bailout from state lawmakers that marked the start of a corruption scandal.
Opening arguments began on January 23 in the bribery trial of former House Speaker Larry Householder. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter intends to prove that the tens of millions of dollars that fueled the House Bill 6 scandal were criminal bribes laundered through a nonprofit with the intent to pass legislation. Larry Householder’s attorneys are attempting to recast him as an environmentalist and good civil servant.
Prosecutors argue that the sweeping bribery scheme originated from Househoulder’s January 2017 trip to Washington D.C. on a FirstEnergy private jet with multiple former FirstEnergy executives. Lead prosecuting attorney Emily Glatfelter revealed how the statehouse probe into Householder got started: FBI got a wiretap on lobbyist Neil Clark related to "another scheme" in late 2018 and early 2019, and picked up conversations with Householder.
After winning a contentious battle for Ohio House speaker, Larry Householder rolled out an overhaul to Ohio energy policy that included subsidies to bail out the state's two nuclear power plants. The bill, which would become House Bill 6, also gutted the state's renewable energy standards and energy efficiency standards and subsidized two coal plants. Thanks to the scandal-ridden House Bill 6, Ohio electricity customers will pay an estimated $1.8 billion through 2030 to subsidize two coal power plants -- including the Clifty Creek Power Plant in Madison, Indiana.
Householder was arrested in July 2020 and the House voted 75-21 to expel Rep. Larry Householder on June 17, 2021.
In a deferred prosecution agreement in July 2021, FirstEnergy Corp. agreed to pay a $230 million fine and admitted to bribing public officials Larry Householder and the state’s former top utility regulator, Sam Randazzo.
We're still learning the extent of the money web that supported the tainted House Bil 6. According to newly revealed information by federal prosecutors, FirstEnergy paid 400,000 to dark money group "Hardworking Americans" for political ads targeting Householder’s 2018 primary opponent, Kevin Black. The utility later paid another $500,000 to "Hardworking Ohioans" for ads to support “Team Householder candidates.”
The Householder trial is projected to last approximately six weeks. Would you like to receive regular updates with news and opportunities to take action?
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There were many developments in the 24 months that followed the arrests of Larry Householder and four associates on bribery and racketeering charges:
- Two men pled guilty
- FirstEnergy fired top executives
- Ohio's top utility regulator Sam Randazzo resigned (after the FBI raided his condo)
- one co-defendant died by suicide
- Some of the tainted HB6 was repealed
- resolution introduced in Cleveland City Council to remove "FirstEnergy" name from the stadium
BUT...Ohioans have yet to see justice fully done.
Urge them to pass equitable, comprehensive clean energy policy that works for all Ohioans