In what is known as the largest political scandal in state history, five people were indicted in federal court on racketeering charges they allegedly took $60.8 million in bribes. Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Republican Party chairman and lobbyist Matt Borges are on trial now facing charges they participated in a racketeering conspiracy.
Jury selection starts today in federal court in downtown Cincinnati.
Here is how they got there:
Jan. 6, 2019: With the help of two dozen Democrats, Perry County Republican Larry Householder staged a dramatic return to political power, capturing the Ohio House speaker post on a 52-46 floor vote. Householder, who held the speaker’s gavel from 2001 to 2004, became the first Ohioan in roughly six decades to recapture the position.
April 12, 2019: As speaker, Householder, R-Glenford, holds a press conference to outline a sweeping energy bill, which would apply fees to electric bills across Ohio to provide subsidies to keep two nuclear power plants open. The plants were formerly owned by FirstEnergy Corp.
May 29, 2019: The controversial bill, House Bill 6, wins passage in the House on a 53-43 vote.
July 17, 2019: HB6 clears the Senate on a 19-12 vote.
July 23, 2019: The House agrees to Senate changes. Gov. Mike DeWine signs it into law the same day. HB6 waters down renewable energy standards and includes bailouts for two energy companies.
August-October, 2019: Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, a coalition of business, consumer and environmental groups, opposes the new law and seeks to put it up for a referendum in November 2020. Supporters of HB6 spend more than $16.5 million on ads to get the bill passed and oppose the referendum. Opponents of the bill spent more than $4 million.
October 2019: Facing a fierce counter-campaign, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts fails to gather enough signatures.
Oct. 22, 2019: The law takes effect.
July 21, 2020: The FBI arrests Householder, former Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges, political strategist Jeff Longstreth and lobbyists Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark. Prosecutors allege the five ran a criminal enterprise that took $60 million in bribes, funneled from First Energy through the non-profit Generation Now. The money was allegedly used to position Householder as speaker and then pass and defend House Bill 6.
July 30, 2020: Householder is removed as speaker but retains his House seat. Householder, Borges, Cespedes, Clark, Longstreth and Generation Now are indicted.
Oct. 29, 2020: Longstreth and Cespedes plead guilty to racketeering, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. They will testify at the trial and be sentenced at the conclusion of the case.
Nov. 4, 2020: Householder is reelected.
Feb. 19, 2021: Generation Now pleads guilty to one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy. The company will be sentenced after the trial.
March 15, 2021: Neil Clark commits suicide in Collier County, Florida.
June 16, 2021: Householder is removed from office by a 75-21 vote.
Feb. 1, 2022: Householder files a motion to dismiss the indictment for failure to state an offense.
Jan. 3: Senior U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black denies the motion to dismiss.
Jan. 20: Trial starts with jury selection.
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