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Defense rests in federal racketeering trial of former Ohio House speaker Householder and ex-Ohio GOP chair Borges

 Larry Householder, former Ohio House speaker, walks into the Potter Stewart United States Court House in Cincinnati on Jan. 23, 2023.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Larry Householder, former Ohio House speaker, walks into the Potter Stewart United States Court House in Cincinnati on Jan. 23, 2023.

Republican former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder spent a second day on the stand Thursday before his defense rested their case in his federal racketeering trial.

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 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.

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 U.S. Attorney Emily Gladfelter 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."

Gladfelter 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."

Gladfelter 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, Gladfelter played part of a call featuring Householder talking about retaliating against lawmakers who “f” with him and saying "we like war."

Gladfelter also showed 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 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 3:30 p.m. and his team announced no plans to call other witnesses. Borges' team announced he did not plan to mount a defense.

Copyright 2023 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.