By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder used thousands of dollars of bribery money to improve his Florida vacation home and pay off credit card debt. Now, charged with racketeering, Householder is paying with time, potentially facing 20 years in prison.
Elected to the Statehouse in 1996, Householder represented Northeastern Ohio as former Ohio House Speaker. He served until 2004 when he was forced to leave due to office term limits. He also served as speaker during this time, until he was elected back into the chamber in 2017.
Householder and former Ohio Republican Party chair Mathew Borges, along with two other associates, were arrested and charged with racketeering conspiracy in July 2020. Federal prosecutors also accused then 63-year-old Householder of controlling “Generation Now,” a nonprofit that been gifted nearly $60 million by FirstEnergy. U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the charges as “likely the largest bribery money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”
In 2017, Householder’s tax-exempt social welfare account, “Generation Now,” began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from FirstEnergy, a nuclear energy company based in Akron, Ohio. Householder spent payments from FirstEnergy on supporting House Bill (HB) 6’s passage. HB 6 saved two of FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants in a $1.3 billion dollar bailout.
During a Washington, D.C. trip in 2017, executives of FirstEnergy contacted Householder through calls, emails and texts. These messages were revealed by prosecutors to include FirstEnergy representatives pressuring the passing of HB 6, and messages shared after the successful bailout.
Alongside HB 6, Householder spent FirstEnergy’s bribe money on his bid for speaker, garnering support from other House candidates. More than $500,000 was spent on repairing Householder’s Florida vacation home, settling a lawsuit and paying off credit card debt.
Borges used roughly $370,000 for himself and $15,000 to bribe others for information on how many signatures had been collected on the ballot.
The 2023 trial exposed Householder, who received a $400,000 check from FirstEnergy in 2018. The former speaker perjured himself regarding this check.
Householder claimed that he met with FirstEnergy officials for only ten minutes and never took the check from the envelope they handed him. Prosecutors later revealed texts between then FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones and Householder thanking one another for large financial contributions.
On March 9, Householder and his associates were formally charged with racketeering by a federal jury in connection to a $60 million scheme.
Responding to the federal jury trial’s decision, one of Householder’s attorneys, Steven Bradley, expressed disappointment.
“We will take some time to discuss and evaluate our legal options moving forward and will most certainly pursue an appeal… Larry is looking forward to going home and spending time with his family after what has been an exhausting seven-week trial,” Bradley said.