Testimony ends in federal racketeering trial of former Ohio House speaker and ex-Ohio GOP chair
Republican former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder spent a second day on the stand before his defense rested their case in his federal racketeering trial. And former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges rested without putting forward a defense.
Householder and Borges are accused in a $61 million bribery scheme to pass the nuclear power plant bailout law House Bill 6 for FirstEnergy in 2019, and attempting to stop a referendum to repeal that bailout.
Householder has said he pushed for House Bill 6, a priority bill for his leadership team, because he thought it was good policy and Ohioans would benefit from keeping the two nuclear power plants operating by FirstEnergy's former subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions running and out of bankruptcy. He said the law wasn't moved forward because of influence or bribes by FirstEnergy.
Householder said he intended to pay back his strategist Jeff Longstreth, who’d told the jury he paid for Householder’s legal and home repair bills. Householder said he wanted to sell the Florida home Longstreth had paid to get repaired, and that they were considering creating a business flipping homes. But Householder said he never got paperwork for that from Longstreth, and said he couldn’t pay now because of restrictions on communicating with Longstreth during this trial.
Longstreth has pleaded guilty, along with former lobbyist Juan Cespedes, who also testified last month.
And Householder said he doesn’t really like Borges. When questioned by Borges' lawyer, Householder said he and Borges were not together at meetings regarding the potential ballot issue to repeal House Bill 6.
Householder’s team wrapped up their questioning Thursday morning, and the prosecution took over with cross-examination.
Assistant US Attorney Emily Glatfelter showed hotel receipts and photos from a limo on Householder’s claims that he didn’t meet with FirstEnergy executives at former president Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Householder said that there were "gentlemen in that photo who weren't there that night".
Glatfelter showed jurors a list created in 2016 of names of people "on the farm" - a term Householder had used to describe friends. On the list was FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones. Householder said he didn't need to make lists of his friends, and "that's not my list".
Glatfelter played phone calls and showed texts featuring Householder, pushing back on his testimony that he wasn’t heavily involved in the dark money group Generation Now.
After asking about his claims that he was concerned about "divisiveness" among Republicans in the Ohio House, Glatfelter played part of a call featuring Householder talking about retaliating against lawmakers who “f” with him and saying "we like war".
Glatfelter also discussed five years of campaign finance forms that didn’t include debts accrued by his business Householder Limited, which are among the bills that Longstreth paid. And she noted he didn't disclose that business on those forms, though by signing the form Householder was attesting to the truth of it. Householder, a longtime elected official, said he'd "glanced" at those forms before electronically signing, and that they were prepared for him by his lawyer.
Householder left the stand just after 3:30pm, and his team announced no plans to call other witnesses. Borges' team announced he did not plan to mount a defense.
Closing arguments are set for Tuesday.