It took more than three years, but disgraced former Ohio GOP House Speaker Larry Householder has been convicted on federal racketeering charges.
A federal jury found both former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges guilty of racketeering conspiracy – a dramatic outcome in the biggest public corruption case in state history.
The guilty verdict marks the end of Householder’s long political career in which he twice held the speaker’s gavel. He’ll be in the Ohio history books as the only speaker expelled from the Legislature and then convicted in a federal corruption case.
Householder and Borges face up to 20 years in prison.
The case made it to federal court because of its sweeping scope: $61 million in bribe money paid by FirstEnergy Corp. via dark money groups to help Householder seize political power and in turn pass and defend a $1.3 billion bailout law known as House Bill 6.
“This isn’t typical political activity, and they know it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Painter said. “Mr. Householder abused that (public) trust and Mr. Borges helped him do it.”
Borges lobbied for the bill and worked to block a referendum to put it on the ballot in 2019. He paid a $15,000 bribe to get insider information on the referendum.
Borges, who had an ethics conviction expunged more than a decade ago, declined a chance to sign a guilty plea that could’ve given him no more than six months in prison. Householder wasn’t given such an offer.
Prosecutors introduced nearly 900 exhibits into evidence and slogged through volumes of text messages, emails, bank records and more than demonstrated what the men knew and actions they took.
Two key players, Former FirstEnergy Solutions lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Householder’s political adviser Jeff Longstreth, took plea deals and testified against them. A fifth defendant, lobbyist Neil Clark, died by suicide in March 2021 after his arrest.
Ohio Republicans remain arguably the single most corrupt state party in the country right now. Remember, every single Ohio Republican who was associated with the scandal was re-elected in 2020. Every single one of them.
First Energy, now Energy Harbor, paid a nearly quarter-billion dollar fine two years ago. But none of this would have been possible without Householder.
And now he's going to (hopefully) spend a long time in prison.
More Republicans from Ohio need to join him...