GLENFORD — Perry County native and Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, 61, has been accused of bribery after his home was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on Tuesday morning.
United States Attorney David DeVillers held a tele-conference on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. following the widely shared news of Householder.
At around 11 a.m. Tuesday, The Perry County Tribune went to Householder’s home in Glenford after information was shared regarding his alleged arrest.
According to the U.S. Attorney General, Larry Householder along with four other parties were arrested and charged with racketeering. According to the criminal complaint filed in US District Court for the Southern District, Householder and the others are charged with conspiracy to participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of an enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity. DeVillers added that all claims against Householder and other parties were allegations.
“Everything we say in the next few minutes are allegations and only allegations,” DeVillers stated during the conference.
The U.S. Attorney announced the arrest of Speaker Householder as well as Jeffrey Longstreth, Neil Clark, Matthew Borges, Juan Cespedes and Generation Now.
“[It is] likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the State of Ohio,” DeVillers commented.
He added that the conspiracy was to pass and maintain a $1.5 billion bailout in return for $61 million in “dark money” that was then used for various political agendas. Money was also given to the defendants, to build a power base for Householder and to further the conspiracy.
“That is to further the affairs of this enterprise,” DeVillers said. “These allegations are bribery pure and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.”
As alleged by the Attorney, the term pay to play was used by the defendants.
DeVillers shared a diagram via a live visual broadcast of how funds were used to further the agendas of Householder and the other parties involved. According to the criminal complaint filed on July 16 in Hamilton County, Southern District Court, “Company A” was giving funds to Householder in order to further the “affairs of the enterprise.”
Funds given by Company A were then funneled to a 501©(4) called Generation Now. A 501©(4) does not have to disclose the donors to the enterprise unlike a PAC or super PAC, according to DeVillers. PACs must disclose all donors to the Federal Elections Commission. Generation Now is regulated by the IRS.
A 501©(4) is operated exclusively to promote social welfare. In a two and a half year period, $61 million was donated by Company A of which no funds went to social welfare. Some “donations” were directly linked to Company A as well as another 501©(4).
Those involved with Householder were all political advisors and lobbyists who worked in different areas of the 501©(4). The first part of the scheme was to, for Company A, pass House Bill 6 and to maintain it.
Money was funneled from Company A to Team Householder via several different enterprises which then gave funding to the speaker and his associates. Team Householder included 21 candidates in 2018 who ran in primaries and general elections.
“Millions of dollars went to support those candidates and to attack their rivals to get them elected,” DeVillers said. “It was very successful.”
All the members of Team Householder who were funded by Generation Now via Company A all voted to have Householder be the Speaker of the House. Additionally, only one voted against House Bill 6.
In 2019, Householder was elected to be the Speaker of the House, having a power base to do so. The next step was to pass House Bill 6 in 2019. Millions of dollars were then funneled to help get the bill passed. The U.S. Attorney added that political advertising was funded by Company A prior and after the bill was passed.
“It was imperative to hide that and that was what this conspiracy did,” DeVillers said.
After the bill was passed in 2019, there was a ballot initiative to reverse it. More money, tens of millions, went from Company A to Generation now, through the filter system to kill the ballot initiative.
“That money was used to bribe individuals who worked on the ballot to get insider information,” DeVillers said. “Thousands of dollars worth, that money was used to bribe the ballot collectors on the street to give them thousands of dollars and a flight out of town, that money… was provided to other ballots services to do… to do nothing.”
According to DeVillers, all of the parties were successful and were able to line their pockets in return. The Attorney added that they are still looking into how much money went into each account. It was reported that half a million dollars was given to Householder for his personal benefit. Another $100,000 went to a home in Florida, according to DeVillers.
“This investigation started about a year ago,” DeVillers said. “We are not done with this case.”
Householder appeared in court Tuesday, and was released on his own recognizance. A preliminary hearing is scheduled tentatively for Aug. 6. If convicted, he could possibly face up to 20 years in prison.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and several other Ohio public officials have called for Householder’s resignation.