Former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder arrives for day two of his racketeering trial. (Photo by Morgan Trau, WEWS.)

Some allegations address Householder’s actions after the feds arrested him in 2020

BY:  Ohio Capital Journal

Former House Speaker Larry Householder has again been indicted on charges related to his actions in a massive bribery and money laundering scandal.

The Glenford Republican is already serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison after being convicted last March of racketeering in a scheme in which Akron-based FirstEnergy paid more than $60 million to purchase a $1.3 billion, ratepayer-financed bailout.

The state charges concern some conduct Householder engaged in after he was arrested in July 2020. They also concern debts and other items that Householder admitted during his federal trial that he didn’t report to the Joint Legislative Ethics Commission as required.

The former speaker faces maximum sentences of from three to eight years on each of the 10 state charges from the Cuyahoga grand jury. And importantly, if he’s convicted of one of the counts — theft in office — he’s permanently disqualified from holding public office.

In a video accompanying the announcement of the indictment, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost noted that Householder has served two different stints as speaker, and that if he’s successful in appealing his federal conviction, “he might well try for a third bite at the apple.”

Five of the 10 state counts Householder faces stem from his use of campaign funds to pay lawyers after his July 2020 arrest. In the video in which Yost appeared, Deputy Attorney General Carol O’Brien said Householder knew that was illegal when he did it.

Several other counts relate to Householder “not reporting significant credit card debts going back to at least 2016, as well as gifts from lobbyists and significant loans from individuals.”

Among gifts Householder received from FirstEnergy were flights to and from the 2017 inaugural of Donald Trump.

Householder is due in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court to be arraigned on April 12.

The new state charges follow the announcement last month of state charges against former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones and Vice President Michael Dowling. The executives are accused of financing the $60 million scheme to bail out two unprofitable nuclear plants owned by the utility so they could spin them off.

Also indicted was Sam Randazzo, Gov. Mike DeWine’s pick to be Ohio’s top utility regulator. Jones and Dowling paid Randazzo $4.3 million mere weeks before DeWine nominated him to the commission in February 2019.

DeWine’s chief of staff, Laurel Dawson, knew of the payment, but an administration spokesman said she didn’t tell the governor until after the FBI searched Randazzo’s Columbus condo in 2020.

The governor stands behind Dawson because it wasn’t until 2021 that the payment was alleged to be a bribe, the spokesman said.

Randazzo was charged by federal authorities in relation to his role in the scandal in December.

Despite all the prosecutions and allegations of wrongdoing, the bailout law, House Bill 6, is still on the books. As a result, ratepayers have ponied up nearly a quarter-billion dollars to prop up two aging coal plants.

Despite the fact that Ohio ratepayers are shouldering that burden, one of the plants isn’t even in Ohio, but in Indiana instead.

Marty Schladen

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He’s won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.


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