MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee-based law firm specializing in securities fraud and shareholder litigation has announced an investigation into FirstEnergy in the aftermath of Tuesday's arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
Ademi & O'Reilly, LLP is looking into the connection between FirstEnergy and Householder, who was arrested on racketeering charges along with four others.
In a release from the firm, the investigation will focus on whether FirstEnergy issued false and misleading statements regarding its business practices, internal controls and prospects. FirstEnergy allegedly spent approximately $2.9 million on Larry Householder’s 2017 campaign. Householder became Ohio House Speaker in 2019 and allegedly returned the favor by enacting laws to support FirstEnergy's two nuclear plants as well as a pair of coal plants.
In total, political donations and bribes by FirstEnergy and other parties involved may have totaled as much as $60 million. U.S. Attorney David DeVillers called the conspiracy "probably the largest bribery case ever in Ohio."
Householder pushed hard for the passage of the roughly $1 billion financial rescue and offered praise when it narrowly cleared the General Assembly last July over the objections of even several of his Republican colleagues. The legislation added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo.
The investigation found that the money was paid from March 2017 to March 2020 to Householder and his associates from what prosecutors referred to as "Company A," identified as a nuclear energy company and subsidiaries in the complaint.
Householder received quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of a non-profit called Generation Now. The defendants allegedly spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.
The plants in both Perry and Oak Harbor were at one time operated by FirstEnergy's subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, until the latter was spun off as its own independent company known as Energy Harbor following bankruptcy proceedings.
In a statement to 3News, FirstEnergy indicated that it had received subpoenas in connection with the investigation surrounding Ohio House Bill 6. "We are reviewing the details of the investigation and we intend to fully cooperate," the company wrote.
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