FBI seeks records from Ohio House, subpoena shows

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is demanding records from the Ohio House of Representatives for the public corruption case against Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, a federal subpoena says.

The federal grand jury subpoena received July 20 — the day before FBI agents arrested Householder and four other men — was issued to the Ohio House administrative offices and asks that it be kept confidential.

It seeks documents related to public records requests for information on House Bill 6, the $1.5 billion utility bailout law at the center of the racketeering case, and documents on public records requests related to Householder. The subpoena also asks for records related to three other bills that called for assisting utility companies but never were enacted.

ExploreTwo Ohio House speakers under FBI investigation; what's going on?

The subpoena spells out that the FBI wants “all communications” including written correspondence, emails, iMessages, text messages, audio or video recordings, voicemail, Snapchats, faxes, calendars, notes, agendas and other hard copy documents. The FBI wants both drafts and final versions.

The Dayton Daily News obtained a copy of the subpoena through a public records request to the Ohio House.

Last week, FBI agents arrested Householder, his long-time political strategist Jeff Longstreth, former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges and lobbyists Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark. Each faces a federal racketeering charge and accusations that they participated in a $60 million bribery scheme.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Dave DeVillers called it the largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the state of Ohio.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine hasn’t been implicated in the investigation, DeVillers said, but he declined to say if any other lawmakers were under investigation.

DeWine told the Dayton Daily News that he doesn’t believe Ohio has a widespread public corruption problem.

“I was surprised at what was going on. Basically, the FBI pulled back the curtain on what was going on. We knew — everybody knew — there was a lot of money being spent on that issue.” 

DeWine said he’s looking at changes to prevent so-called “pay to play” and campaign finance reforms, but doesn’t have any plans to announce now. His goal is to have a proposal ready that’s consistent with U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance rulings for lawmakers to consider when the General Assembly returns in September.

“We need to do something ... I think more disclosure is good,” the governor said. “Whatever we do, it has to be consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which are pretty broad.”

About our Statehouse Bureau

The Dayton Daily News is the only local media outlet with a full-time Columbus reporter to keep an eye on state government spending and officials. That allowed our statehouse reporter Laura Bischoff to be the first in the state to break this story. Bischoff and our team of investigative reporters will continue digging into this and other public corruption stories.  

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