Politicians, lawmakers react to Speaker Householder’s arrest & bribery allegations

Local News

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Politicians across Ohio are working on how to move forward after one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers was arrested and charged with bribery

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder is accused of accepting more than $60 million from an energy company to ensure the state passed a billion-dollar bailout. The governor is calling for Householder to resign, the Attorney General says the House should eject him if he doesn’t, and now the Secretary of State is going after him for campaign finance laws. 

The US attorney says this is likely the largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of Ohio. 

Chris Hoffman is the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge. He says, “The federal complaint charging those arrested today details a shameful betrayal of the public trust.” The FBI says Ohioans should be appalled and shocked by Speaker Householder’s alleged scheme. 

Some lawmakers feel similarly. Republican Representative J. Todd Smith of Farmersville says he felt “Really hurt, you know, when it’s somebody that you love and respect. This hurt. It’s a punch in the gut, but it also hurt.” 

The federal government says Householder took $61 million in bribes from energy company FirstEnergy in exchange for passing a $1.5 billion energy bailout bill that saved two of the company’s nuclear power plants. 

US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers says, “Make no mistake. These allegations are bribery, pure and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.” 

Householder’s sham organization was called Generation Now. It funneled bribery money to more than a dozen campaigns that eventually won their races and then elected him Speaker. Representative Smith was one of those candidates, but says he was completely in the dark as to where much of his contributions came from. “Never heard of it before, don’t know anything about it.” 

Federal agents allege Householder delivered on the bribes by leading the passage of House Bill 6: the energy bailout. When asked if Householder’s arrest and the bribe allegations taint the now-law, Representative Smith said, “I don’t think it changes anything.” 

The US Attorney said the need to keep the investigation secret partially limited what agents could do, but that will soon change. DeVillers says, “There are a lot of FBI agents knocking on a lot of doors, asking a lot of questions, serving a lot of warrants, a lot of subpoenas, executing a lot of search warrants. And that’s going to go on for days.” 

Miami Valley Representatives Phil Plummer and Rick Perales did not respond to multiple requests for interviews. Representative Niraj Antani said he was unavailable. 

Householder’s preliminary hearing is set for August. The US Attorney’s office says the charges in this racketeering conspiracy are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 

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