$60 million bribe likely the largest scheme in Ohio, says U.S. attorney

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers announced the arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others in connection to an alleged $60 million bribe to pass and uphold a nuclear plant bailout.

It is likely the largest bribery scheme in the state, DeVillers said.

“These allegations are bribery pure and simple,” he said. “This was quid pro quo. This was pay to play.”

U.S. Attorneys Office press conference on corruption case against Ohio House speaker.

Posted by Dayton Daily News on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

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Householder and the other defendants are accused of receiving more than $60 million to promote Householder, pass House Bill 6 and defeat a ballot initiative to overturn the bill, prosecutors allege.

The other defendants include political consultant Jeff Longstreth, former Ohio GOP Chairman Matthew Borges and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it’s working to determine how much each defendant received. Householder received at least $500,000 — $300,000 of which was used toward a lawsuit and another $100,000 went toward a house in Florida, DeVillers said.

The $60 million went through Generation Now, a 501c4 that DeVillers said was created “completely and utterly to hide where the donor came from.”

Generation Now, a 501(c)4 that’s not connected to a Cincinnati charity of the same name, is also named in the lawsuit.

There is no evidence that the scheme touches Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, DeVillers said.

However, DeVillers would not confirm if any other Ohio lawmakers are under investigation.

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“Public corruption is actually the top priority for the FBI,” said Chris Hoffman, FBI special agent in charge. “Public corruption erodes public confidence.”

This is the first time racketeering charges have been used on a public official in the Southern District of Ohio, he added.

Hoffman urged anyone with knowledge related to the case or other corruption cases to call the FBI’s tip line at 614-849-1777.

He said he hopes the case inspires others with information on public corruption to realize they can step forward and report details to the FBI.

The investigation began a year ago as a covert investigation and it is now an overt investigation, DeVillers said.

“Today is the end of the beginning,” Hoffman added. “Not the beginning of the end.”

He added that he hopes forfeiture and seizure will be a big part of the case to help Ohioans recoup some of their loses connected to the case.

Householder was charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering scheme and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 6.

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We will continue to update this story during the press conference and as details are released.