Matt Borges, the former chair of the Ohio Republican Party who is now a defendant in a federal racketeering case is making public comments about the case for the first time since his arrest, saying he wants to reiterate his innocence.
Borges was a lobbyist for FirstEnergy when federal prosecutors allege he bribed someone for inside information on a campaign to repeal the nuclear power plant bailout law, HB6. Borges has plead "not guilty" to the charge in federal court.
Now, Borges says in a statement, "I never broke the law, didn’t conspire with anyone to break the law, never had intent to break any laws, and wasn’t aware of any illegal activity."
The federal racketeering case accuses a utility believed to be FirstEnergy of funneling money to a dark money group to help Larry Householder become house speaker and to get HB6 passed into law.
Attorneys for Borges filed a motion to dismiss in a separate civil case brought by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. In that case, Yost is suing to stop the new charges from being added to electric bills at the start of 2021. Those charges, up to $2.35 a month, are for nuclear, coal, and solar subsidies.
The civil case is against FirstEnergy along with other named defendants, including Borges. His lawyers say Yost fails to state a claim specifically against Borges.
In a written statement in response to Borges' filing, Yost says, "The defendant left out the part where he paid a bribe, recorded on an FBI wire, and the fact two of his co-conspirators have already confessed, and the trail of financial breadcrumbs that leads right to his checkbook. Attacking law enforcement is the oldest -- least effective -- trick in the criminal defense playbook. We'll see him in court."
Borges responded, "In his statement, Yost claimed there was a recording of a bribe being offered. I'm not really sure why he thinks that, because no such thing exists."
Two defendants in the federal racketeering case have entered plea deals backing up several claims made by investigators. Juan Cespedes, a lobbyist for FirstEnergy, says he orchestrated payments to the dark money group known as Generation Now.
Jeff Longstreth, political strategist for Larry Householder, says he organized Generation Now at Householder's direction to help Householder get elected as speaker and to get HB6 passed into law.