By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal jury convicted former Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party chair Mathew Borges of participating in a $60 million bribery scheme, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
Householder, 63, and Borges, 50, were charged in 2020 in the federal bribery case stemming from a bill passed in 2019 to bail out Ohio’s nuclear power plants. Federal prosecutors called it the biggest corruption case in the state’s history. The legislature revoked the bill in 2021.
Following his arrest in 2020, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to remove Householder from the speakership position.
Prosecutors had alleged that energy distributor FirstEnergy Corp gave $60 million to Generation Now, a political nonprofit operated by Householder. Those funds were used for lobbying that secured passage of the $1.5 billion bill in 2019, according to prosecutors.
Householder and Borges were convicted of participating in the racketeering conspiracy, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday. The racketeering conspiracy as charged in this case is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
FirstEnergy agreed to pay $230 million in 2021 to settle U.S. government charges in the case. It admitted it paid millions of dollars to state officials to pursue legislation on nuclear subsidies and other policies that would benefit it.
“Larry Householder illegally sold the statehouse, and thus he ultimately betrayed the great people of Ohio he was elected to serve,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker said on Thursday. “Matt Borges was a willing co-conspirator, who paid bribe money for insider information to assist Householder.”
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Bradley Perrett)