There’s an old saying: “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”
An inside tip received by Third Base Politics suggests that’s exactly what lawyers for Householder, Jeff Longstreth, Matt Borges, Neil Clark, and Juan Cespedes—as known as the “Householder Five” corruptocrats—plan to do when arguing for their clients’ innocence in federal court.
From 2001 to 2004, state Rep. Larry Householder (R–Glenford) served as Speaker of the House a reign that ended when the Federal Bureau of Investigations launched an investigation into allegations that Householder and his aides took kickbacks from vendors and traded legislation for campaign contributions.
Fast forward to 2018: Householder, lobbyists for First Energy and other Capitol Square fat cats planned the creation of a $60 million slush fund called Generation Now. Generation Now’s stated purpose was “social welfare and economic development,” but its real purpose was paying off Ohio lawmakers to support House Bill 6 and pushing a $1 billion corporate-welfare scheme for First Energy.
Householder cronies—26 Democrats and 26 Republicans—were then rewarded with donations from the “Growth & Opportunity PAC,” a political action committee incorporated in July 2015 in the name of D. Eric Lycan, a Lexington, Kentucky, attorney who previously served as counsel for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R–KY) 2014 re-election campaign and the Kentucky Republican Party.
Householder, Jeff Longstreth, Matt Borges, Neil Clark, and Juan Cespedes, were indicted in July 2020.
A tip sent to us by a loyal reader and Capitol Square insider reveals the Householder Five plan to argue that trading more than $60 million in campaign donations for the enactment of a $1 billion corporate-welfare scheme for First Energy is protected by the First Amendment, via the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case.
In other words, their argument will be that purchasing Ohio lawmakers is a constitutional right.
This is similar to an argument made by former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who claimed that receiving $175,000 in bribes from businessman Jonnie Williams was simply an example of Williams exercising his right to political speech… in the form of cold hard cash, Rolex watches, and other pricey gifts.
As you can imagine, it’s hilarious to imagine saying that committing crime and robbing the public is free speech, so you need to handle it to the Householder Five’s lawyers for being able to say this with a straight face.
Just as First Energy thought they would be able to get away with getting the best laws money can buy, it’s clear that Borges, Cespedes, Clark, Householder, and Longstreth think they’ve got the best lawyers money can buy. Maybe they should ask their lawyers to go back to the drawing board on this one, because this dog of a defense alibi don’t hunt.