A bribery scandal said to be the largest in history for the state of Ohio has prompted a Franklin County judge to slap an injunction on the state’s nuclear power bailout law.
House Bill 6 included rate hikes for Ohio consumers that were expected to start in January with fees as low as 85 cents a month for some families and up to $2,400 for the state’s largest energy users. The funds were earmarked for Energy Harbor, at one time a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. Energy Harbor is the owner of Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants.
With the fees to run from 2021 to 2027, the nuclear bailout was expected to raise over $1 billion, Cleavland.com reported. However, two men aligned with former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder have pleaded guilty to racketeering in a $60 million bribery scheme including FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes and political aide Jeff Longstreth.
Householder claims he is innocent and his trial has been postponed until mid-March so prosecutors could review the paperwork that the judge called “voluminous.” Facing charges with Householder are two lobbyists Matt Borges and Neil Clark.
Ohio legislatures have been seeking a way to withdraw from the bill or create an amendment to it. However, with no solution passed and legislators headed home for a winter break, Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown said the prudent choice was to block the bill from going forward. “
“To not impose an injunction ...would give the OK that bribery is allowed in the state of Ohio and that, you know, any ill-gotten gains can be received. All you’ve got to do is find the right legislator, find the right speaker of the House,” Judge Brown said.
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