Dark Money Group Pleads Guilty To Racketeering In HB 6 Corruption Case

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder leaves the federal courthouse after an initial hearing following charges against him and four others alleging a $60 million bribery scheme Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder leaves the federal courthouse after an initial hearing following charges against him and four others alleging a $60 million bribery scheme Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. [Jay LaPrete / AP]
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A dark money group reached a plea deal in the federal corruption case involving former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), the former chair of the Ohio GOP and a utility widely believed to be FirstEnergy.

Generation Now, a 501(c)4 organization, pleaded guilty to a racketeering count on Friday, admitting in federal court that it was used to funnel tens of millions of dollars in bribes from the utility to Householder. Under the deal, Generation Now allowed the seizure of nearly $1.5 million from two bank accounts and accepted a sentence of five years' probation.

As U.S. Attorney David DeVillers explained last summer, Generation Now paid out nearly $61 million to help Householder become speaker and secure the passage of HB6, the controversial energy law that authorized more than a billion dollars in subsidies for two nuclear plants formerly owned by FirstEnergy.

Generation Now also funded an aggressive campaign, also allegedly led by Householder, to fight against a possible citizen's referendum aimed at overturning HB6.

In the plea agreement, Generation Now says it was organized at Householder's direction, "knowing that the purpose of Generation Now was for it to be used as a mechanism to receive undisclosed donations to benefit Householder and to advance Householder's efforts to become Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives."

Generation Now also admitted that it engaged in financial transactions designed to conceal the nature, source and control of payments made by "Company A," believed to be FirstEnergy.

“The codefendants in this case, along with Larry Householder, are all political advisers, lobbyists who all worked in different capacities. But make no mistake, this is Larry Householder’s 501(c)4," DeVillers said at that July 2020 press conference.

Householder adviser Jeff Longstreth and lobbyist Juan Cespedes pleaded guilty to racketeering charges last October.

Householder was ousted as Ohio House Speaker following his arrest, but was re-elected last fall. Householder has pleaded not guilty to the charges, as have former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges and lobbyist Neil Clark.

Householder remains a member of the House, and although Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has suggested the Republican-dominated caucus could expel him, there have been no moves to do so. Householder appeared at a House session this week.

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