A federal jury convicted the former Ohio House Speaker and the ex-GOP party chair for their parts in a $60 million racketeering, money laundering, and bribery conspiracy that included taking bribes from FirstEnergy in exchange for passing and defending HB6, which included a $1.3 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants owned by the utility.
The convictions, which Larry Householder and Matt Borges say they will appeal, are possibly the end of the beginning of one of the largest public corruption cases in state history. FirstEnergy has admitted its part in the bribery conspiracy, and utility watchdog Energy Policy Institute called on regulators in multiple states to “conduct investigations and refund FirstEnergy customers for the money they were forced to pay for these corrupt schemes.”
The nuclear bailout provisions of HB6 were repealed in light of the scandal. However, the law’s bailout of two coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation and provisions gutting energy efficiency and renewable energy remain on the books. “After so many years of utility-controlled energy policy that favored fossil fuels,” Rachael Belz, head of Ohio Citizen Action, said in a statement. “Ohio must now move toward equitable, forward-looking solutions that will protect our air and water, the health of Ohioans, and provide clean energy jobs to keep Ohio competitive in the 21st-century economy.” (AP, Columbus Dispatch, WOSU, Ohio Capital Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dayton Daily News, Axios, The Hill, CNN, Reuters, USA Today, New York Times $)