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‘Fucking Cold-Blooded’ GOP Operatives Accused of Running Ohio’s Largest Ever Bribery Scheme

AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins

In September 2019, Matt Borges, an Ohio lobbyist and former chairman of the state Republican Party, reached out to a canvasser working to collect petition signatures to roll back a massive bailout of Ohio’s nuclear energy industry. According to federal prosecutors, he offered the canvasser $15,000 to be a double agent and provide the opposition with inside information.

The canvasser initially recoiled at the prospect, and immediately after the meeting contacted the FBI. The FBI wired him up and told him to circle back with Borges and accept the offer. According to criminal complaints handed down this week, the canvasser—referred to as Confidential Human Source 1—reconnected with Borges, got that $15,000 payment, and proceeded to provide extensive, damning details to investigators about what the U.S. attorney in Ohio’s Southern District called “likely the largest bribery [and] money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”

Borges was one of five people arrested Tuesday; another was Larry Householder, the Republican speaker of Ohio’s state house of representatives. Prosecutors accuse them of orchestrating a massive bribery and racketeering scheme to funnel money from Ohio utility FirstEnergy into the pockets of Householder, his allies, and a sprawling network of interest groups, political action committees, and consulting firms. In exchange, the feds say, Householder, Borges, and their co-conspirators spearheaded successful legislative efforts to bail out FirstEnergy’s struggling nuclear-power business to the tune of $1.5 billion.

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