In case you missed it, a few weeks ago, Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and four political cronies were arrested and charged with racketeering and bribery in the largest corruption case in the history of the state. $60 million in bribes from an energy company, FirstEnergy Solutions, greased the skids for passage of House Bill 6, which was going to saddle honest, hard-working taxpayers with a $1 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants… owned by FirstEnergy, of course. (The bill also gutted Ohio’s clean energy programs and subsidized coal plants. Because if you’re dirty, you may as well go full dirty.)
In 2018, many mounds of money were used to fund the campaigns of candidates who would be loyal to Householder, elect him as Speaker, and vote for passage of the bill. More of the money was used later to thwart a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation (because heaven forbid that taxpayers actually get a say in how their money is used!)
They stacked the deck, and subverted the entire legislative structure for their own personal and political gains. It was underhanded, dirty, criminal… and they nearly got away with it.
How did $60 million in bribes go unnoticed for so long? Why, through the magic of “dark money” of course! FirstEnergy funneled the cash through an organization called Generation Now, a nonprofit “social welfare” organization, allegedly acting in the public interest… and not required to disclose its donors under federal law.
“The millions paid into the entity were akin to bags of cash,” the complaint states. “Unlike campaign or PAC contributions, they were not regulated, not reported, not subject to public scrutiny — and the enterprise freely spent the bribe payments to further the enterprise’s political interests and to enrich themselves.”From this USA Today article
If this happened in Ohio, it has no doubt happened (and is still happening) in other states. Think about it – FirstEnergy paid $60 million and got a $1 billion bailout – not a bad return on a crooked investment.
Our political system is supposed to have checks and balances. “Dark money” allows the “checks” to get written to corrupt legislators. We need a lot less secrecy, and a lot more transparency.