Racketeering trial for Ohio GOP ex-speaker starts next week on charges related to major corruption scheme
Ohio House of Representatives image of Larry Householder.

Former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder will go on trial starting next week on racketeering and other charges in a corruption case involving some of the state's top Republicans.

Federal prosecutors must prove Householder traded a $1 billion bailout paid by Ohio utility customers for two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions in exchange for nearly $61 million in campaign donations, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

Former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges will also stand trial in federal court in Cincinnati for allegedly bribing a Republican operative for information about a ballot initiative that would have blocked the bailout.

The 63-year-old Household insists he did nothing wrong and Borges has pleaded not guilty.

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Household led the state House from 2001 to 2004 but left office under investigation into irregular campaign practices, but he was never charged and returned to Columbus in 2017 intent on winning back the speakership, and federal investigators say he funneled campaign cash through dark money groups to help elect loyalists to the legislature.

Once back in charge, he pushed through legislation that would have charged Ohioans a fee on their electric bills to bail out FirstEnergy's nuclear plants, and investigators say the 50-year-old Borges assisted the scheme by giving $15,000 to GOP strategist Tyler Fehrman for insider information about a ballot initiative to block the bailout.

Householder and Borges were each charged with conspiracy to participate in the conduct of an enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, which carries a possible 20-year prison term, $25,000 fine and the forfeiture of any ill-gotten gains.

Also charged in the case are Householder political strategist Jeff Longstreth, who has pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy, FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes, who pleaded guilty, and GOP lobbyist Neil Clark, who had described himself as Householder's "proxy" and took his own life in March 2021.