Indicted former House Speaker Larry Householder. Photo courtesy The Ohio Channel.
Facing serious financial trouble and pushing for a federal bailout, the FirstEnergy Corporation saw opportunity in August 2018 when President Donald Trump announced a trip to Ohio.
The Akron-based company wanted someone to make the case to Trump in person, so it turned to a reliable political ally: Larry Householder.
The Perry County Republican’s alleged connections with the energy company were further outlined in a new deferred prosecution agreement between federal prosecutors and FirstEnergy announced on Thursday.
The agreement sheds more light on the years of political maneuvering that preceded the 2019 nuclear bailout in the form of House Bill 6.
Awaiting Householder’s ascendancy to the speakership, FirstEnergy spent much of 2018 lobbying the Trump administration to provide emergency support toward its coal and nuclear plants, it was reported at the time.
Trump traveled to the Buckeye State on Aug. 24, 2018 to headline the Ohio Republican Party’s annual dinner. After a visit to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Trump headed to the Greater Columbus Convention Center to meet with supporters at a roundtable event.
(Householder was an invited speaker during the 2016 Republican National Convention and had met with Trump White House aides earlier in 2018 ostensibly to discuss the issue of “sanctuary cities.”)
According to the deferred prosecution agreement, FirstEnergy executives arranged for Householder to attend the presidential roundtable with the express purpose of asking Trump if his administration “intended to fix FirstEnergy Corp.’s issues at the federal level.”
Householder would later tell a FirstEnergy lobbyist he didn’t speak during the roundtable because of poor acoustics in the room. But he described having a chance to talk “one on one” during a photo opportunity after the roundtable ended.
Trump isn’t named in the deferred prosecution agreement, which only identifies the person Householder said he spoke to as “Federal Official 1.”
Householder told a FirstEnergy lobbyist and executive he had discussed the need for more federal support of Ohio’s “zero emissions nuclear plants and coal fired facilities to remain an important part of our overall energy solution.”
The executive thanked Householder for his help.
“We are rooting for you and your team!,” the executive is quoted as telling Householder, a possible reference to the upcoming 2018 General Election.
“I’m rooting for you as well,” Householder allegedly responded, “we are on the same team.”
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