Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Last Call For Householder Of Cards

Things just got very interesting in Ohio politics this morning as GOP state House Speaker Larry Householder was busted by the FBI as part of a $60 million bribery case involving the $1.5 billion bailout of Ohio's two nuclear power plants that Householder made possible last year.

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder’s political operation accepted more than $60 million in bribe money from FirstEnergy Corp. to secure the company a $1.3 billion public bailout, according to a federal complaint filed Thursday
Householder, chief political aide Jeff Longstreth, and lobbyists Matt Borges, Neil Clark, and Juan Cespedes used the bribe money to expand the speaker’s political power and enrich themselves by millions of dollars through a “web” of dark-money groups and bank accounts, including the 501(c)(4) Generation Now, according to the complaint.

Householder and the four others were charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Each could face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, court officials said Tuesday.

“(It) is likely the largest bribery, money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people in the state of Ohio,” said David DeVillers, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, during a news conference Tuesday.

In all, Householder received more than $500,000 for his personal benefit, according to DeVillers.

More than $100,000 of the bribe money from FirstEnergy Corp. was used to pay costs associated with Householder’s Florida home, and at least $97,000 was used to pay expenses for Householder’s 2018 House campaign, the complaint stated.

The complaint does not mention FirstEnergy Corp. by name. Nor does it name FirstEnergy Solutions -- FirstEnergy Corp.‘s then-subsidiary which operated the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants (and continues to operate them under the name Energy Harbor after splitting from FirstEnergy earlier this year.

Instead, the complaint refers to them both under the collective name “Company A.” There are numerous giveaways that FirstEnergy is “Company A,” including that the complaint quotes public comments from former FirstEnergy Corp. President/CEO Charles Jones, labeling him “Company A Corp. president and CEO.”

DeVillers said there’s a “strong inference” in the complaint that Householder and his allies approached FirstEnergy, rather than the other way around.

“This enterprise went looking for someone to bribe them,” DeVillers said.

Borges, a former Ohio Republican Party chair, had $1.62 million transferred to his lobbying firm’s account, and he paid himself about $350,000, the complaint stated. Borges also allegedly offered someone on the pro-referendum side $15,000 to become a mole within the pro-referendum campaign and hired a private investigator, which the complaint states is consistent with efforts to investigate petition collectors.

Longstreth, Householder’s chief political strategist, transferred more than $10.5 million in bribe payments to his firm, JPL & Associates, as well as another $4.4 million through indirect means, according to the complaint. Longstreth also allegedly benefitted personally, receiving more than $5 million in bribe money, including at least $1 million transferred to his brokerage account in January 2020.

Cespedes, FirstEnergy’s main lobbyist for HB6, served as a “key middleman” for the operation, according to the complaint. He allegedly received about $600,000 from Team Householder and $227,000 from FirstEnergy.

Clark, a prominent Capitol Square lobbyist who described himself as Householder’s “hit man,” got $290,000, according to the complaint.

The bottom line is that FirstEnergy created a dark money PAC, Generation Now, for the specific purpose of hiding their transfer of $61 million to Householder and Republicans who would support him as Ohio's House Speaker.  Householder pocketed some of this money directly, and most of the rest was given out as bribes to Ohio Republicans to support House Bill 6 creating the bailout, to create ads supporting House Bill 6 to give the Republicans political cover, and to defeat the planned ballot initiative overturning House Bill 6 (which died because there weren't enough signatures by the October 2019 limit).

They spent $61 million to get twenty times that in taxpayer cash.

And it was so obvious, even the FBI was able to build a two-year case and nail Householder.  His squad of utterly corrupt officials took home millions, they were bought and paid for, and the FBI promises more arrests are coming.

Complete, cartoonish corruption, breathtaking in scope, and they believed they had gotten away with it from the start, money they would use to remain in power for years.

This is what happens when you put Republicans in charge.  They're all corrupt.  I guarantee you that Republicans in every state are running some version of this same 401(c)(4) dark money PAC scam.  They were specifically designed for it.

Vote them all out in November.

Another #MeToo Moment, Con't

The #MeToo movement finally comes for Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and FOX News.

Fox News has been hit with a kitchen sink suit, replete with trigger warning, as a complaint was filed on Monday in New York federal court alleging sexual misconduct by some of its top hosts including Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. 
Jennifer Eckhart, a former associate producer on Fox Business Network, is a co-plaintiff in the suit. The most serious claim pertains to Eckhart's allegation that she was raped by former White House chief correspondent Ed Henry, who earlier this month was fired by Fox News as a result of the charge. 
"On July 1, 2020, Fox News disclosed to the public that it had terminated Mr. Henry based on the findings of an internal investigation, and purported to take credit for acting appropriately," states the complaint. "However, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Fox News knew that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017. At that time, when Fox News was conducting a company-wide investigation into issues of sexual harassment, multiple women came forward to complain that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct towards them." 
Fox News now faces a sex trafficking claim as a result of Eckhart's allegation. The rape allegedly happened in 2017 in a hotel room after the two had met for drinks. Two years earlier, according to the complaint, Henry had romantically pursued her, forced a kiss on her, convince her to have sex by holding her career over her head, and months later assaulted her in Fox News' New York offices. 
Catherine Foti, Henry's lawyer, responds by saying, "The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship." 
Cathy Areu is the other co-plaintiff in this case, which also asserts Fox News subjected women to a hostile workplace.

Once an on-air regular on Fox News, Areu says she was victimized by Henry through a "slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and messages." The complaint details the contents of these messages. 
Additionally, Areu targets several of Fox News' other stars. She alleges that Hannity once threw $100 on the desk of his set and called for the men around to take her on a date for drinks. She says that Carlson once probed to see whether she'd be interested in a sexual relationship. She accuses Howard Kurtz of inviting her to a hotel room. After allegedly spurning advances or enduring comments, Areu says she stopped being invited to appear on each of their respective programs. The three Fox News hosts are co-defendants in the suit and face claims of retaliation. 
Here's the full complaint.

It's utterly brutal, inexcusable, inhumane stuff.

Of course, FOX News is full of brutal, inexcusable, and inhumane bastards like Henry, Hannity, and Carlson.

I frankly hope this costs the three of them their careers and a healthy stint in prison, but we all know that won't happen.  Carlson will come back from his "vacation" just like Hannity has, and the two of them will continue to be hosts of America's most-watched cable TV news shows.  Carlson's White Power Hour is the most-watched cable TV show in American history right now, averaging almost 4.5 million viewers a night, and Hannity is right behind him.

Henry may have been fired, but Hannity and Carlson have so far been untouchable.

I expect a quick settlement, and soon.  FOX News has too many resources and too much invested in these two in order to give them up.

I don't think #MeToo can bring them down.  They are too powerful.

But we'll see if that's the case.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

In a move right out of the "America: 2020" series writers' room, an white supremacist incel terrorist went to the home of New Jersey's first Latina judge and shot her husband and shot and killed her son.

The man suspected of ambushing the family of the first Latina federal judge in New Jersey posted thousands of pages of writing to the internet in recent years decrying feminism and ranting against her, according to websites registered in his name and address.

Roy Den Hollander, an anti-feminist activist and lawyer, who law enforcement officials say shot and killed the son of Judge Esther Salas in an ambush at her home in North Brunswick on Sunday, wrote about his hatred of her in a self-published book this year.

Hollander pushed books of his writing on several websites, according to domain registration records examined by NBC News that match his known address and phone number. In the recently published memoir Hollander left online, he called Salas “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.” Referring to a 2015 case Salas presided over, Hollander said he “wanted to ask the Judge out, but thought she might hold me in contempt.”

Hollander is accused of approaching Salas’ home dressed as a FedEx driver, fatally shooting her son, Daniel Anderl, 20, and critically injuring her husband, Mark Anderl.

Salas, who presided over a civil case five years ago in which Hollander provided representation, was in the basement during the attack and was not injured, according to NBC New York.

Hollander was pronounced dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said Monday.

Hollander's writings are littered with language common among the most extreme anti-feminist communities on the web, some of which he was a member. He was active in anti-feminist and misogynist groups on Facebook, including groups titled Humanity Vs. Feminism and Men Going Their Own Way, according to an analysis of accounts linked to him.

The suspect wrote an entire book on how he hated this woman, and went to her home with the intent to kill her. He allegedly did kill her son and badly injured her husband. But it will be dismissed as a "lone-wolf" killing and we'll shrug our shoulders and wonder why white men are so violent.

It's a mystery.  Perhaps we should throw more Black and Latino men in jail.


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