“Ohio is in election-year turmoil over a Trump-supported nuke bailout bought with bribery. Whether public fury will kill the handout and affect the fall presidential election remains to be seen…But Bribed Ohio 2020 has clearly gone radioactive.”
Ohio’s biggest-ever bribery case is rocking America’s reactor industry … and the fall election.
Full details of the shocking arrest of Ohio’s powerful Speaker of the House are still unfolding.
But on Monday, the FBI charged Larry Householder and four associates with taking $60 million (that’s NOT a typo) in bribes from “Company A,” suspected to be the Akron-based nuke utility FirstEnergy. The company has not been formally named as the source of the bribe, but FE’s stock has since plummetted.
Householder is suspected of buying votes for the widely hated $1.5 billion bailout of two decrepit nuke reactors on Lake Erie. Donald Trump lobbied at least five legislators to support the cash giveaway. Ohio’s moderate Republican governor, Mike DeWine, has asked Householder to resign.
Without the bailout, Perry and Davis-Besse would already be dead in the rising tsunami of US reactor shutdowns.
The handout also supported two ancient coal burners (one in Indiana), and ten small solar plants. It killed a big, highly successful state-wide efficiency program and crippled further Ohio development of wind and solar.
Facing the imminent shutdown of FE’s dying Perry and Davis-Besse nukes, Householder rammed the bailout through a gerrymandered Ohio legislature with just a few votes to spare. In recent primaries, the company assaulted a score of free-market Republicans and hesitant Democrats, replacing them with compliant corporatists. The HB6 bailout could not have passed without those hand-picked Republicans and a few Democrats now suspected of pocketing some of Householder’s FE cash.
The indictments have Ohio burning.
HB6 remains hugely unpopular in a state savaged by soaring energy bills and massive job losses, much of which could have been avoided with large turbine farm developments proposed for Ohio’s north coast corridor. Strong lake-based winds, flat fields, and ample transmission to nearby cities years ago attracted $4 billion in committed investments. But rather than embracing a green-powered future, the legislature undercut those projects with a single corrupt anti-wind clause in the 2015 Ohio Code, leaving Ohio dependent on fossil and nuclear fuels.
Householder became speaker in 2017 as FirstEnergy spent millions on bailing out its dying nukes. With shrill TV ads, they linked reactor opponents to Communist China. Hired thugs called “blockers” physically assaulted activists who were gathering signatures to put a popular repeal referendum on this fall’s statewide ballot. The fascist attacks and strategic delays by Ohio’s secretary of state kept the referendum off the upcoming November ballot.
The free-market Buckeye Institute, Sierra Club, and others now want HB6 rescinded, almost certainly leading to the Perry and Davis-Besse reactors shutting down. Opened in the 1970s, Davis-Besse is infamous worldwide as a shoddy relic likely to soon melt. In 1986, Perry became the first US reactor to be damaged by an earthquake.
It’s unclear how a repeal vote would now go in the Legislature, or whether Gov. DeWine – who signed off on the original bailout –would support it.
But as the case unfolds, Ohio is in election-year turmoil over a Trump-supported nuke bailout bought with bribery. Whether public fury will kill the handout and affect the fall presidential election remains to be seen.
But Bribed Ohio 2020 has clearly gone radioactive.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman co-wrote The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft . (www.freepress.org).