Throwing money at a political candidate can get companies everything they’ve possibly wanted, but what happens when it all comes out in the end?
In this week’s Gossage, Electrical Review explores an ongoing story in the United States of America about the former leader of the Ohio House of Representatives and his dodgy dealings with some of the largest energy companies in the US.
You may have heard about the $60 million electricity political slush fund run by the (now former) Republican party speaker (e.g. leader) of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry Householder.
It turns out, that once this money had been collected, Householder pushed through a huge bailout of two nuclear plants and several coal plants, all of which were losing serious money. Simultaneously, he also gutted most of Ohio’s standards on energy efficiency and clean energy, which were weak to begin with.
This case looks to be truly malodorous. Householder appears to have won his high office largely because the power company, FirstEnergy, and its affiliates – most prominent of which was America’s biggest coal firm, Murray Energy – were funding his political operation under the table, using a ‘nonprofit’ shell corporation that he controlled. That allowed him to pump huge sums into the campaigns of allied candidates who, after winning their legislative seats, voted to give him the speakership. Then they voted in favour of his highest priority, the bailout bill.
FBI prosecutors claim that $400,000 of the power company’s money went directly into Householder’s pocket as he was doing the company’s bidding in the Ohio Statehouse.
Ohio is one of the most marginal states, which could make the difference for Donald Trump’s re-election bid this November 3.
Despite being from the same political party as Householder, Trump has set out entirely to distance himself from this giant scandal. But to do so convincingly, Trump needs to fire his Cabinet member whom he personally placed in charge of the (seriously mis-named) Environmental Protection Agency, instructing him to push back on efficiency standards for electricity using equipment. His name is Andrew Wheeler.
Why does Trump need to do so? Want to know who was Murray Energy’s chief lobbyist when it funnelled over $100,000 to Householder’s slush fund in 2016? Step forward, the very same Andrew Wheeler.