Former Householder ally testifies against ex-Ohio House speaker in racketeering trial
A lobbyist for a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy who admitted guilt in the scandal involving the nuclear bailout law known as House Bill 6 took the stand for the prosecution Monday. It's the opening of fourth week of the federal racketeering trial of Republican former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges.
Juan Cespedes told jurors FirstEnergy Solutions lobbyist Bob Klaffky gave Householder a $400,000 check in a meeting just before the 2018 election. Cespedes said the check came from FirstEnergy, made out to Generation Now, the dark money group Householder was using to back candidates he expected would support him for speaker.
Cespedes said another $100,000 check was delivered to Householder’s political strategist Jeff Longstreth, who’s also pleaded guilty. Longstreth is expected to testify in the coming days.
Cespedes said his client also gave $50 million to promote House Bill 6, Householder’s nuclear power plant bailout law, and the effort to stop a ballot issue to overturn it.
And Cespedes said he kept his friend and FirstEnergy lobbyist Borges updated on what was happening.
Householder and Borges are accused of playing roles in a $61 million bribery scheme to pass the $1 billion nuclear power plant bailout for FirstEnergy. Both have both maintained their innocence. Along with the guilty pleas from Cespedes and Longstreth,
FirstEnergy has entered a deferred plea agreement with a $230 million fine. The organizers of Generation Now have also agreed to a plea deal.
Klaffky has said in interviews that he recalled the meeting, but doesn't remember giving Householder a check or saying what Cespedes said he did.
Also on the stand Monday was Householder fundraiser Anna Lippincott. Householder consultant Megan Fitzmartin is also expected to testify. She was recently hired by Speaker Jason Stephens as policy and communications director.
When asked last month about that hire, Stephens said he didn't know she was going to be a witness in the trial, and added: "I am 100% behind all of our employees. There's a lot of people testifying in that trial, and that will work itself out. But I think our employees or our staff here at the House are going to serve all the members of the House and will do a great job."