Ohio Politicians Busted for Corruption

The Nuclear Crime Syndicate is attempting to “unload” responsibility for ‘problem plants’ to municipalities usually at a deep discount and with an extended support contract – separate from the primary of course! Ohio is no exception.. 

THE INTERCEPT LOGO

July 24, 2020

Last July, we reported on one of the most brazen corruption schemes executed in a generation at the state level — a successful $60 million effort to overthrow the Ohio state legislature for the express purpose of extracting a $1.1 billion bailout for two failing nuclear power plants. One year later, the Ohio speaker of the House was arrested, along with his alleged co-conspirators in the legislature, state Republican Party, and nuclear industry.

Our initial investigation relied largely on publicly available financial documents and old-fashioned dot-connecting, even as the House speaker, Larry Householder, flatly denied that what we were seeing with our eyes was really what was happening: that the nuclear industry, in league with Householder, funded a takeover of the legislature and extracted a billion dollars in return

We know our audience is interested in stories that go beyond the 24/7 news cycle, and because of the generous financial support from our readers — for which we’re extremely grateful — we’re able to bring you this kind of reporting.

Less grateful is a cabal of Ohio politicians, lobbyists, and executives now facing a reckoning. Along with the House speaker and Matt Borges, a top aide to former Gov. John Kasich, fixer Jeffrey Longstreth, lobbyist Neil Clark, consultant Juan Cespedes, and the firm Generation Now have all been charged in connection with the alleged $60 million bribery and racketeering conspiracy. What makes the case so fascinating is that the pattern of corporate and political behavior is adjacent to business-as-usual in today’s politics, in which corporations fund dark-money groups for the purpose of winning legislative giveaways. The story shows not that what happened in Ohio is extraordinary, but how thoroughly corrupt and criminal the entire system is, whether inside the lines of the law or just outside.

The federal indictment pulled back the veil even further than our reporting had, thanks to access to wire transfer information, audio recordings of the conspirators, and other testimony. And what the Justice Department found is stunning: In order to stop a referendum that would have given the public a chance to overturn the $1.1 billion bailout from making it onto the ballot, the conspirators hunted down petition-gatherers on street corners and paid them $2,500 plus a plane ticket home if they would agree to quit gathering signatures. The effort did indeed fail, and the bailout went into effect.

That Householder allegedly used some of the money for his own personal benefit — such as for repairs on a Florida home — is what may end up separating the case from others that stay within the lines of the law. But, of course, the entire purpose of amassing wealth and power is to use it for personal benefit: whether that wealth is paid out legally through bonuses and dividends or illegally into a slush fund is simply a detail.

What’s also important to understand is that the nuclear industry fought for a bailout in a number of other states. It’s doubtful that the battle was much cleaner elsewhere. With your support, we can find out.

Ryan Grim

D.C. Bureau Chief

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