Federal prosecutors on first day of historic racketeering trial Ohio A top Republican in the state claimed to have received a bribe from the power company FirstEnergy.
The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, is the latest public utility scandal to follow in the footsteps of the past decade. Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama When florida Higher consumer bills, less green energy, more CO2, experts say2 emissions.
One of the defendants, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, told reporters Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati that he had done nothing wrong and expected “redemption.” He said he was waiting for an opening statement that he was doing so.
The head of household has been charged with one count of racketeering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.
public prosecutor claim The head of the household and four men accused with him received more than $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy, an Akron, Ohio-based company and its subsidiaries.
Prosecutors ruled that Householder and his co-conspirators passed HB-6, a bill that would provide a $1.4 billion customer-funded bailout to two ailing nuclear power plants controlled by power companies. In recent years, nuclear power has struggled to compete with relatively cheap gas plants.
“Larry Householder sold the state capitol,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter told jurors in the government’s opening statement. “He defrauded the people he had chosen to serve, and traded his power for gold.”
The householder claims he has done nothing wrong and received no bribes. “Larry never entered into any fraudulent illegal contracts with FirstEnergy. Larry never made any promises or exchanged anything in return,” said Stephen Bradley, his lead attorney. rice field.
At the heart of the lawsuit is over $60 million received by Householder and his four co-conspirators from FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries through multiple “black money” tax exempt entities, the most important of which is The one was Generation Now.
Known as 501(c)4’s, such organizations ostensibly aim to promote the “social welfare.” Federal tax law and common law may withhold the names of donors. “The 501(c)4 is the perfect organization to take covert bribes,” prosecutor Glatfelter said in court.
In exchange for millions of dollars to householders, FirstEnergy got $1.4 billion in subsidies for two ailing nuclear plants, prosecutors allege. The grant came in the form of HB-6. The bill was defended by the House congressman as one of his signature pieces of legislation in his presidency. The legislation imposed a daily levy on Ohioans’ electricity bills and moved toward making profits for two nuclear power plants.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a good law or a bad law. It was a corrupt law,” Glatfelter said in court.
Householder and his co-conspirators allegedly used FirstEnergy’s cash to ensure friendly Republicans were elected to the company’s agenda and Householder’s claim to leadership. At the 2018 race, Householder’s co-conspirators used power company cash to post deceptive advertisements implying that his potential rival drove under the influence, according to indictment documents. The man wasn’t, but a last-minute ad blitz robbed him of the seat by 138 votes behind him.
The government alleges the householder also used the cash for purposes other than political power. . In addition, he spent $100,000 on a house in Naples, Florida. His defense attorneys say this is a loan he intended to repay.
In July 2021, FirstEnergy pleaded guilty to its role in the scheme and agreed to pay a $230 million fine.
Asked about its involvement in the incident, the company said it had adopted new political contribution standards “based on honesty and transparency.”
another company paid $700,000 for Generation NowAmerican Electric Power was allowed to bill Ohio power customers $1.50 per month To subsidize the ailing coal plants it owns. Not charged. A company spokesperson said it “actively participates in the political process in an ethical and lawful manner.”
After the bill was passed, Householder and his four co-conspirators spent millions more in FirstEnergy cash to nullify the ballot ballot referendum that disarmed key provisions of the bill. accused of using
“The millions of dollars paid to the entity resembled bags of cash,” reads the federal criminal affidavit. It wasn’t even targeted.”
Ohio’s FirstEnergy scandal is part of a larger trend.
Over the past decade, the shift from fossil fuels to energy has accelerated, and the shift to competitive energy markets has challenged monopoly utilities.
2014, Arizona Public Service pumped millions of dollars To a dark money group whose agenda was more friendly and intended to elect regulators against rooftop solar. spending is questionable, FBI investigation Recently, state regulators forced the company to disclose more information about its political spending. An investigation revealed that he spent more than $22 million in donations to tax-exempt organizations between 2019 and 2021.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/23/ohio-republican-larry-householder-corruption-trial An Ohio Republican was accused of accepting $60 million in bribes as his corruption trial began.usa news