The Householder bribery scheme unveiled millions in secret spending

But dark money has been in Ohio for a while.

COLUMBUS - "The message could not have been more clear: Save the American way of life from the nefarious Chinese. 

The television ad showed Chinese President Xi Jinping lifted his fist as military members marched by. An ominous script warned that this well-oiled machine had come for Americans' manufacturing jobs and it was back for Ohioans' energy jobs, too: "Don’t let them do it to you. Don’t sign the petition allowing China to control Ohio’s power.”

While the message was clear, the source of that xenophobic ad could not have been less clear. 

That's because, according to a federal investigation, FirstEnergy and other energy companies funneled money through two groups that had to disclose little – if any – information about the donations that ultimately paid for the ad.

...Much like internet trolls or anonymous web commenters, these dark money groups are frequently emboldened by their anonymity to pay for the nastiest ads – ones politicians can easily disavow while still reaping the benefits of mudslinging."

-- Jesse Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer

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