While U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers wouldn't name "Company A," he acknowledged to a room full of reporters that it wasn't difficult to decipher the identity of the company that is alleged to have paid bribes in a scheme that resulted in the arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday.
And with it now being understood that "Company A" is Akron-based FirstEnergy, several Cleveland Browns fans have taken to social media to call for the team to change the name of its home, FirstEnergy Stadium.
According to an 81-page criminal complaint, Householder and four others received $60 million from Company A, which they used to promote Householder, pass House Bill 6, and defeat a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation. House Bill 6 bailed out Ohio's two fledgling nuclear power plants (including the Perry Nuclear Generating Station in Lake County).
The other four defendants along with Householder and Generation Now are:
- Jeffrey Longstreth, advisor to Householder
- Neil Clark, longtime Statehouse lobbyist
- Matthew Borges, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman
- Juan Cespedes, co-founder of The Oxley Group, a Columbus-based consulting firm
No FirstEnergy employees have been charged in the alleged scheme, which remains under investigation. In a statement, the company said: "This afternoon, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) 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."
In 2013, FirstEnergy agreed to a 17-year, $102 million deal to buy the naming rights of what had previously been Cleveland Browns Stadium.