Assuming these allegations prove true (and the FBI certainly seems to believe they’ve got the goods), we may have just witnessed one of the biggest political corruption scandals in the nation’s history unfolding before our eyes. And it’s not even a federal official, but a state officeholder. Before dawn yesterday morning, federal agents, joined by local police and County Sherriffs, arrived at the farm of Ohio state House Speaker Larry Householder (R) to take him into custody. And the charges against Householder are nothing short of spectacular, though not in a good way, obviously. He’s charged, along with some associates, with taking more than $60 million in bribes from a vaguely described group of interests associated with two nuclear power plants in the state. The amount of money changing hands is breathtaking.
FBI agents were at the farm of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday morning, hours ahead of a planned announcement of a $60 million bribe investigation by federal prosecutors.
FBI agents were carrying out “law enforcement activity” on Householder’s property in Glenford in southeastern Ohio, FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren said, without providing details. The Perry County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed it was assisting the FBI at Householder’s farm.
Lindgren noted the upcoming news conference by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, David DeVillers, whose office planned to announce “charges related to $60 million bribe to state official & associates.”
Householder didn’t go down alone in this bust. Also arrested were one of his aides, a former Ohio State GOP chairman, a lobbyist and a political consultant. Everyone was later released on bail after surrendering their passports and any weapons they might have possessed.
The details are a bit fuzzy at this point, but the entire alleged scheme revolves around Speaker Householder’s successful drive to ram through a bailout of the two nuclear power plants. The program involved a new fee on households that would go toward subsidizing the power plants to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. In exchange for these “services,” Householder and his colleagues received tens of millions of dollars funneled through a company he controlled named Generation Now.
Householder himself allegedly began receiving payments of $250,000 per quarter through Generation now. Large chunks were funneled into his reelection campaign committee while at least another $100,000 went toward renovations at his farm. In addition to the federal corruption charges, the Speaker is also reportedly looking at FEC campaign finance violations.
The crazy part of all of this is the fact that this isn’t Householder’s first trip to the alleged corruption rodeo. He held the office of Speaker back in the early 2000s before being forced out by term limits. At the time of his departure, he was already under investigation for “alleged money laundering and irregular campaign practices.” But once he was out of office and back to civilian life, the government closed the investigation without bringing any charges.
As I said above, the scope of this alleged scheme is simply jaw-dropping. My grandmother used to have a saying about how if you’re thinking of stealing a penny you should just steal a million dollars. One has to wonder if someone gave Householder similar advice as a child. This idea that an energy lobbyist group could generate sixty million dollars to pay bribes to one of the top officials in the state government and do it in such a blatant fashion simply boggles the mind.