WATCH LIVE: Incoming Trump press secretary Sean Spicer holds first press conference
January 19, 2017
An anti-abortion group in Spokane has been ordered to pay about $960,000 to Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho after its protests were found to have interfered with patient care, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.
The Church at Planned Parenthood was ordered to pay $110,000 in civil damages to Planned Parenthood last month after a Spokane County judge ruled that the group interfered with patient care, violating state law, the Spokesman-Review reported.
The anti-abortion group also will be required to pay attorneys’ fees totaling $850,000, it reported, citing Legal Voice, a legal advocacy organization in the state of Washington. That number was reached as part of a settlement between Planned Parenthood and the church’s insurance company.
“This is a critical victory for Planned Parenthood at a time of historical attacks on abortion access,” said Planned Parenthood's Paul Dillon.
ALSO IN THE NEWS: Koch network will oppose Trump in 2024
Householder is accused of racketeering in a scheme to use $61 million in utility company contributions to elect a legislature that would elect him speaker and pass a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout of failing nuclear and coal plants. At the time of his arrest in 2020, federal prosecutors said it was likely the biggest bribery and money-laundering scandal in the long history of public corruption in Ohio.
In 2016, a financially struggling Householder was running for his old Perry County House seat with an eye toward regaining the speaker’s gavel two years later. At the same time, Akron-based FirstEnergy was losing so much on its nuclear-and-coal-plant subsidiary that it was starting a process that would ultimately send it into bankruptcy. Prosecutors have suggested that the ratepayer subsidies made them easier to spin off.
Householder and the company’s executives quickly formed a relationship that appears to have been formalized on a joint trip to Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump’s January, 2017 inaugural during which they flew on private jets and enjoyed a series of fancy meals.
Just a few weeks later, two Householder-controlled 501(c)(4) “dark money” groups were founded — including one by a FirstEnergy lobbyist who would later become Gov. Mike DeWine’s governmental affairs director. Shortly thereafter, what would become tens of millions of FirstEnergy dollars started to flow into and between them, and becoming dark money in the process.
In U.S. District Court on Wednesday, federal prosecutors laid out in stupefying detail how the dollars traveled through the dark money groups, Generation Now and Partners for Progress, and into political action committees and limited liability companies with names like Hardworking Americans and Hardworking Ohioans.
Dark money groups don’t have to disclose their donors and in her opening statement last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter said the entire point of sending the dollars on such a tortuous journey was to make them hard to trace. But on the stand, FBI Special Agent Blane Wetzel explained how he used subpoenaed bank statements, extracted text messages, emails and wiretaps to do so.
Wetzel testified that in early 2018, Householder was working to get a slate of House candidates through the May Republican Primary. The hope was also to get them through the November General Election, so they could vote to make him speaker the following January.
Glatfelter walked Wetzel through how dark money originating with FirstEnergy eventually ended up being spent on campaign ads. One, against Householder’s primary opponent, went after him for taking dark money.
In other words, dark money was being used to slam the use of dark money.
It slammed Kevin Black for “dirty money, dirty politics” over the funding — and because he had been supported by former Republican Speaker Cliff Rosenburger, who had been the object of an FBI investigation.
The latter criticism could seem ironic, given that Householder himself became the object of an FBI investigation in 2004 during his first stint as speaker.
But consistency and avoiding hypocrisy hardly seemed to be the point in a March 2018 wiretapped phone conversation between Householder and political consultant Neil Clark. The consultant was also charged in the case, but he died by suicide in 2021.
Referring to the ad attacking Black, Householder said, “I kind of like the word ‘dark’ because it means black.”
Wetzel, the FBI agent, also described a TV ad funded with Householder-controlled dark money that attacked Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, a Democrat running against a member of “Team Householder” in the 2018 General Election.
The ad showed police cam video of Foley, who said he was stopped for speeding and that he passed a field sobriety test. The ad, however, said Foley had failed several tests and that he was “just another corrupt politician.”
It closed by saying “We can’t trust Drunk Dan Foley,” the Dayton Daily News reported at the time.
Householder’s own epic corruption trial resumes Thursday and is expected to last until March.
Political operative Juan Cespedes, who has pleaded guilty, is expected to testify after Wetzel’s testimony is complete.
Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: email@example.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.
The web of conservative activist groups and donors informally known as the "Koch network" plans to oppose former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential primaries, reported The Washington Post on Sunday — breaking a years-long silence as the network has sat out "overt" politics for a few years.
"The move marks the most notable example to date of an overt and coordinated effort from within conservative circles to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination for a third straight presidential election," reported Isaac Arnsdorf. "Some Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated with Trump after disappointing midterm elections in which he drew blame for elevating flawed candidates and polarizing ideas. But absent a consolidated effort to stop Trump, many critics fear he will be able to exploit GOP divisions and chart a course to the nomination as he did in 2016."
The Koch network's plans were laid out in a memo released on Sunday by Emily Seidel, director of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) — the flagship group that coordinates the Koch efforts.
“The best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter,” said the memo. “Lots of people are frustrated. But very few people are in a position to do something about it. AFP is. Now is the time to rise to the occasion.”
The Koch brothers, Charles and David — the latter of whom passed away in 2019 — are billionaire business tycoons who built a network of chemical companies. For years, they were some of the most well-known right-wing megadonors and villains to liberal activists. After David Koch's unsuccessful run for vice president in the 1980s, the two largely tried to influence politics from the sidelines, supporting the Tea Party movement in the 2010s and pushing Republican candidates who supported their libertarian philosophy of government.
The Koch brothers, despite their efforts helping to make Trump's initial election possible in 2016, soured on Trump early in his presidency, and the feeling was mutual, with Trump publicly attacking them during his time in office.