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  Racketeering Allegations Soil Ohio GOP  
  July 30, 2020 Edition  
     BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
      associate editor
      Charges in a federal racketeering conspiracy leveled against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder by the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Southern District of Ohio have soiled the Ohio Republican Party’s reputation; and to be sure, former State Rep. Don Manning ‘bought’ into the scheme to finance a bailout for nuclear power ‘plants, hook, line and sinker.’
      Manning, of New Middletown, was a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives. He represented District 59 from 2019 until his death on March 20, 2020.
      Last week, the Speaker, as well as the former chair of Ohio Republican Party and three other individuals and a 501(c)(4) entity were charged in federal public corruption racketeering conspiracy involving approximately $60 million paid Generation Now (a 501(c)(4) entity) to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.
      It is alleged that Householder, 61, of Glenford, Ohio, and the enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through wire fraud and receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering.
      According to an 80-page criminal complaint unsealed last week, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise received millions of dollars in exchange for Householder’s and the enterprise’s help in passing House Bill 6, a billion-dollar bailout that saved two failing, Ohio nuclear power plants from closing.
      In May, 2019, The Ohio House of Representative approved a bill to gut clean energy standards and subsidize at-risk nuclear and coal plants after a last-minute push from a Trump reelection official to secure its passage, so wrote Gavin Bade in an article in Politico, noting that Bob Paduchik, a senior adviser to the Trump reelection campaign, made calls to at least five members of the Ohio House of Representatives, pressuring them to vote ‘yes’ on the bill.
      “Sources said Paduchik emphasized preserving jobs at the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants, both located in northeastern Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie,” Bade said.
      Legislators contacted by Paduchik included Republican Reps. Don Manning, Darrell Kick, Laura Lanese, Reggie Stoltzfus and Dave Greenspan, sources told Bade.
      FirstEnergy Solutions had threatened to shut the plants down if they were not subsidized, and Cleveland.com reported Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, and labor union leaders made similar arguments in other 11th hour calls to lawmakers.
      According to FollowTheMoney.org., Manning’s campaign for elective office raised some $157,000, including the following contributions---$5000 from the Larry Householder Campaign Committee, $46,949 from the Ohio Republican Party, $3540 from the Ohio Republican Caucus and $1000 from First Energy Corp.
      Manning voted in favor of House Bill 6 and issued the following statement on the issue on June 21,2019:
      “Recently in the Ohio House of Representatives, I voted to pass Ohio House Bill 6. This legislation passed with ten Democratic votes in a rare but important demonstration of bipartisan cooperation. While it seems the two parties in Washington can find little to nothing to work together on, here in Ohio we united on an energy policy that makes sense and will save thousands of Ohio Jobs.
      “Those that call House Bill 6 a nuclear bailout are hiding half of the story. While it’s true that HB6 will create a surcharge of $1 on monthly residential electric bills, the legislation also eliminates two green energy surcharges that total $4.68 each month, on average.
      “It is also worth noting that unless HB6 passes, Ohio’s green energy subsides will continue to grow every year — paid for by taxpayers on their energy bills every month.
      “Now, the math is so simple that any fifth-grader can tell you that it will save customers money on their electricity bills. If we eliminate the $4.68 green energy subsidy and replace it with a $1 surcharge, the average ratepayer will save on average $3.68 per month.
      “Let me be clear, I voted for House Bill 6 because lower electricity prices matter to the people of my district. Electricity costs matter to every Ohioan — homeowners, renters, local elected officials and employers. Cutting costs for working families is important. It is also a priority to protect the small business owners and manufacturers whose bottom lines are driven by energy costs.
      “Saving Ohio jobs, whether they are in my district or the most rural part of the state, is a priority of mine and of the Republicans in the General Assembly. When a bill like House Bill 6 allows us to save 4,300 high-paying jobs, I am going to vote for it, plain and simple. Especially when saving those jobs also means protecting two power plants that generate enough electricity to power 2 million Ohio homes.
      “For more than a decade, Ohio ratepayers have been paying for two green energy surcharges that have accomplished nothing. All the windmills and solar panels combined do not come close to the 2,200 megawatts of electricity the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants produce.
      “If clean-air is really the reason we have sunk millions of dollars into renewable forms of energy, we should have a larger appreciation for the role nuclear energy has in our zero-carbon emission portfolio. After all, 90% of the zero-carbon emission energy that is produced in Ohio comes from those two plants.
      “It is time for Ohio to have an energy policy based on logic and economics instead of virtue signaling and rhetoric.
      “The two green energy surcharges have been here for more than a decade with little to nothing to show for your investment. It is time to focus on what works today and not what may work in ten, twenty, fifty or 100 years down the road.”
      Once HB6 was approved, opponents of the measure sought to put the issue on the Nov., 2020 ballot.
      Those who wanted to see the bailout bill survive didn’t waiting for an election campaign; they spent money to keep an election on the matter from happening. A group called Ohioans for Energy Security sponsored two horribly false television ads and sent misleading mailers urging people not to sign the referendum petition.
      The ads were masterpieces of misdirection, casting the referendum effort as an attempt by the Chinese government to take over Ohioans’ electric power, and falsely claiming Chinese interests were buying power plants in Ohio.
      Once again, Rep. Manning stepped up to the plate in support of HB6, issuing the following statement on Sept. 22, 2019:
      “...You elected me to be a new voice for the [Mahoning] Valley in Columbus. On countless issues, I work to make sure people of the valley are forgotten no longer.
      “Bipartisan legislators and I voted to remove ridiculous green-energy subsidies from electric bills, saving $3.68 per month. These green mandates took money from pockets to prop up an industry that despite massive investment, accounts for less than 10 percent of Ohio’s electricity generation. Regardless of the “Green New Deal” narrative you hear from coastal liberals, wind and solar electric generation simply does not create enough power to be sources of Ohio’s zero carbon emission electricity generation.
      “In passing Ohio House Bill 6, we replaced green energy subsidy with a smaller fee to help stabilize Ohio’s two nuclear power plants that employ thousands of Ohioans and generate 15 percent of Ohio’s electricity and are responsible for 80 percent of Ohio’s zero-carbon electricity. We passed HB6 to remove high subsidies for inconsequential and ill-performing green energy industry.
      “Now, out-of-state interests want to remove your voice in the Ohio House. They are spending millions in deceptive messaging to overturn HB6. A powerful duo of leftist green energy interests and powerful oil and natural gas groups have teamed up to kill nuclear power in Ohio.
      “Their reasoning: Oil and natural gas interests are fine giving billions to green energy companies because they know green energy produces peanuts overall. Gas interests want a bigger market share. They know if nuclear dies, that 15 percent share would be replaced by natural gas.
      “This is about energy monopoly.
      “Another concern is coziness between several large developers in the oil and natural gas industries and banks owned by the Chinese government. We cannot allow the Chinese to have leverage over our energy infrastructure.
      “Soon, you will be approached to sign a petition to overturn House Bill 6. They will lie and pressure you for your name, your address and your signature.
      “If you sign that petition, you are signing away $177 a year in personal energy costs. You are signing to kill over 4,300 Ohio jobs. You are signing up to fund the green new deal and give oil and gas tycoons a near monopoly of our energy grid. You are opening the door to our power grid to the Chinese.
      “Do not sign their petition. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders do not want what is best for the Valley. You elected me to have your back and I always will — especially when it comes to protecting our energy freedom.”
      In 2018, Manning ran for a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, previously held by John Boccieri (D). Manning narrowly defeated Democrat Eric Ungaro, 50.35% to 49.65%.
      Manning never finished his first term in office, when died suddenly on March 20, 2020 of a suspected heart attack.
      Ohio Republicans, led by Speaker Householder, named Canfield resident Allesandro Cutrona as Manning’s replacement, as Cutrona pledged to give $50,000 to the Ohio Republican Party.
      In a statement on the claims of corruption, Cutrona said he is “appalled and dismayed” at the allegations.
      Cutrona bested five finalists for the position, one of whom said during the vetting process for the post, “Believe me, Householder made it very clear when we had our ‘one-on-one,’ about his money and power.”
      Ohio Republican Party Chair, Jane Timkin, has called for Householder’s resignation.
      “I understand and respect the presumption of innocence. All charges filed must be proved in court. These are basic legal rights. However, there is no right to hold public office. This is a privilege by the people of Ohio to officeholders. It’s a higher calling and requires a higher level of responsibility. That is why I am calling on Larry Householder to step down as Speaker of the House and resign as a legislator,” Timken said.
      In Jan., 2019, Timkin was narrowly elected Ohio GOP chair, narrowly defeating incumbent Matt Borges.
      Timken, President Trump’s favored candidate, was elected by the state GOP’s central committee after two deadlocked votes. After closed-door negotiations, Borges agreed to withdraw in exchange for being named chairman emeritus of the party. Her election marked a defeat for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had endorsed and lobbied for Borges to remain as party chair.
      Borges, 48, of Bexley, Oh., was also named by the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Southern District of Ohio in the allegations of public corruption.
 
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