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Former House speaker asks judge to drop conspiracy charge

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former House Speaker, testifies against resolution to expel him from Ohio House.
Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former House Speaker, testifies against resolution to expel him from Ohio House.

Updated February 2, 2022, at 5:00 p.m.

The former Republican legislative leader accused of helping orchestrate a $60 million bribery scheme has asked a judge to dismiss a conspiracy charge against him.

Larry Householder was charged 18 months ago with plotting to oversee the funneling of energy company money into a legislative effort to bail out two nuclear power plants. He has pleaded not guilty.

Late Tuesday his attorneys filed court motions asking that the indictment be dismissed. They argue prosecutors failed to prove an "explicit quid pro quo agreement" between Householder and FirstEnergy.

"In doing so, it settles for legal conclusions -- not facts. And it hangs its hat on salacious allegations of bribery against the former Speaker of the Ohio House based on political contributions that a corporation made to an issue advocacy group, Generation Now," attorney Steven Bradley wrote in the court filing.

The court filing echoes statements Householder made on the Ohio House floor in June 2021 when fighting against a motion to expel him as a member.

"I have not nor have I ever sold legislation, never, ever," said Householder.

But FirstEnergy has already signed a sworn statement admitting to bribing Householder in exchange for specific action benefiting the utility.

FirstEnergy agreed to a statement of facts in last year's deferred prosecution, which included "FirstEnergy Corp., through the acts of its officers, employees, and agents, conspired with public officials and other individuals and entities to pay millions of dollars to and for the benefit of public officials in exchange for specific official action for FirstEnergy Corp.’s benefit."

A trial date for Householder and former FirstEnergy lobbyist Matt Borges is expected to be set by the end of this month.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is expected to oppose the request.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.