COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Rep. Dave Greenspan is the unnamed Ohio lawmaker who federal charging documents dramatically depict as meeting with agents in the FBI’s public-corruption unit while he received a text from former House Speaker Larry Householder pressuring him to vote for House Bill 6, according to newly released public records.
The records show Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, received a text from Householder on May 28, 2019, matching the one depicted in the 82-page criminal complaint that was unsealed following Householder’s arrest in July. In the text, Householder tells Greenspan, “I really need you to vote yes on HB6, it means a lot to me. Can I count on you?”
At that moment, Greenspan was sitting in a meeting with FBI agents. Meanwhile, the House was debating whether to pass House Bill 6, which will send more than $1 billion to two nuclear plants formerly owned by FirstEnergy. Prosecutors allege Householder and his allies passed the bill in exchange for $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy and others, given in the form of political spending that helped elect Householder to his legislative leadership position and that helped force the bill through the legislature and defend it against a repeal effort.
After Greenspan responded no, Householder replied: “I just want you to remember – when I needed you – you weren’t there. twice.” An unnamed intermediary later approached Greenspan, identified in the complaint only as “Representative 7,” asking him to delete the texts on behalf of Jeff Longstreth, a top Householder political aide who also was arrested and charged in connection with HB6.
Greenspan showed the text message to FBI agents immediately after he received it, according to the federal charging document. He later provided screen shots to the FBI.
The House passed the bill on May 29, the day after Greenspan met with the FBI.
The charging document also says that Neil Clark, a prominent Columbus lobbyist who was arrested the same day Householder was, told Greenspan separate legislation he was sponsoring would not advance unless he voted for House Bill 6. When Greenspan tried to explain to Clark why he couldn’t support the bill, Clark responded: “No one cares about your opinion.”
Householder has pleaded not guilty to a federal racketeering charge, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, and denied wrongdoing. He was removed as speaker following his arrest, but remains in the state legislature. Clark and Longstreth also have pleaded not guilty, as have two others arrested in connection to the probe, lobbyists Matt Borges and Juan Cespedes.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers, who’s overseeing the case, said: “When confronted with wrongdoing, those who come forward and assist law enforcement demonstrate bravery and courage. We owe such individuals our deepest admiration and gratitude.”
The identity of “Representative 7” was a common topic of speculation in Columbus political circles in the aftermath of Householder’s arrest, as people pored over the complaint to discern the identities of the key unnamed figures within the document. Representative 7′s / Greenspan’s passages in the complaint show that members of the legislature were speaking with the FBI while House Bill 6 was still being debated, leading to questions over why the FBI didn’t intervene if they believed the bill had corrupt origins.
Greenspan has deflected questions about whether he is Representative 7, citing the ongoing investigation. He declined to comment on Thursday beyond a statement issued by his office, which said he would not entertain questions about House Bill 6 while the case is ongoing in the courts.
The statement otherwise read: “Serving as an elected official is an honor that requires humility and compassion. We, as elected officials, should never forget who we work for: the people.
“We are elected and entrusted with the welfare of our constituents. That should always be our primary focus. I have always fought for ethical, transparent and responsive representation. Standing up for what one believes to be right, even against opposing political headwinds, is the cornerstone of honorable representation.
“Believing in one’s core values and deep sense of personal responsibility should drive each of us to do what is in the best interest of the people,” he said.
Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer received the texts between Greenspan and Householder from the Ohio House of Representatives in response to a public-records request.
Greenspan is a co-sponsor of a proposal to repeal HB6 that’s currently under debate in the Ohio House. Republican House Speaker Bob Cupp, who replaced Householder as speaker last month, hasn’t given a clear indication of whether or when HB6 might be repealed.