Ohio House Bill 6 scandal inspires more questionable attacks in state legislative races

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Republican-controlled legislature passed Ohio House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout law that’s now at the center of a federal corruption investigation, and a Republican governor signed it.

But some Democrats played supporting roles in the bill becoming law, too, while some Republicans aggressively opposed it.

Don’t expect any of that nuance to be captured in political attacks that are swirling in hotly contested state legislative races.

One audacious ad from the Ohio Republican Party attacks Alexis Miller, the Democratic nominee for House District 89 in Northern Ohio.

The ad attempts to tie Miller, a first-time candidate, to the HB6 scandal by noting – accurately – that House Democrats provided the votes for state Rep. Larry Householder to be elected speaker. Householder and four allies, including a former Ohio Republican Party chairman, were arrested in July for allegedly using more than $60 million in bribe money from FirstEnergy Corp. to secure the passage of the law, which gives a former subsidiary $1.3 billion in ratepayer money to support two nuclear power plants.

“If Alexis Miller’s campaign is supported by the same people who supported Larry Householder, how can we trust her?” the mailer asks.

What the ad doesn’t mention is that Miller’s GOP opponent, state Rep. D.J. Swearingen, was appointed to the legislature by Householder, a Republican. Swearingen also received donations from FirstEnergy, ex-FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes, who was among those arrested, and the House GOP campaign committee, which was financially supported by Householder’s operation.

Another mailer from the Ohio Democratic Party ties state Rep. Dave Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, to the HB6 scandal. Greenspan, first elected in 2016, is running against Monique Smith, a Democrat and former Lakewood city councilwoman.

The ad, which references the federal investigation as the “largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever in Ohio, is a boilerplate attack Democrats are waging against Republicans across the state. It might give a voter the impression that Greenspan voted for the bill.

But Greenspan didn’t just vote against House Bill 6, he’s sponsored two separate bills to repeal it, and even went to the FBI, aiding the federal investigation against Householder while the bill was still being debated, court records show. His refusal to vote for it led Householder to ominously threaten him in a text message that made its way into an affidavit from an FBI agent laying out the case against Householder and his allies.

The common thread between Greenspan and Swearingen: both are Republicans holding seats that are expected to be competitive in this November’s election. Greenspan represents a district that includes Cleveland’s western suburbs that could be a top pickup opportunity for Democrats, while Swearingen represents Erie and Ottawa counties, a potential swing area– and as a recent political appointee, his name has never appeared on a ballot.

It’s not just the Greenspan/Smith and Miller/Swearingen races. The HB6 scandal has inspired numerous questionable attacks, as Democrats try to take advantage of a corruption scandal, even by attacking first-time candidates who

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2 alleged ISIS supporters in U.S. accused of plotting attacks on White House, Trump Tower

Two men faces charges in connection with an alleged plot to bomb or shoot at high-profile sites in the U.S., including the White House and Trump Tower in New York City, a federal complaint shows.

Jaylyn Christopher Molina, of Texas, and Kristopher Sean Matthews, of South Carolina, face charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

An email and phone call to Molina’s attorney seeking comment did not receive an immediate response. Court records do not list an attorney for Matthews.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the federal court for the Western District of Texas, Molina and Matthews used an online chat group in 2019 to discuss attacking U.S. targets on behalf of ISIS. The pair also allegedly discussed traveling to Syria to fight with the Islamic State group.

They were allegedly studying how to build car bombs, suicide belts and other explosives and discussed plans for attacks with others on an encrypted messaging application.

Matthews told Molina that they needed four recruits to carry out multisite attacks “that could be Netflix worthy,” the complaint said.

On Saturday, FBI agents arrested Matthews in Cleveland City, Tennessee, and Molina in Gonzales, Texas, a city about 75 miles east of San Antonio, according to special agent Michelle Lee. She declined to comment further on the case.

Nicole Acevedo contributed.

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White House Attacks Former Pence Aide Who Endorsed Biden

WASHINGTON — Top White House aides on Tuesday escalated their efforts to undermine the credibility of a former senior adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who has endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., accusing her of publicly criticizing the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic because she is disgruntled over being fired.

Keith Kellogg, the retired lieutenant general who is national security adviser to Mr. Pence, told reporters that he had recommended removing the aide, Olivia Troye, from her position as the vice president’s top Homeland Security adviser in charge of managing the coronavirus task force.

“The reason I fired her was her performances started to drop after six months working on the task force,” Mr. Kellogg said, calling Ms. Troye a “backbencher” in the administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic.

“She was responsible for coordinating meetings, bringing people together. And when the performance level dropped off,” he said, he went to Mr. Pence “and recommended she leave. I’m the one that escorted her off the compound.”

The comments from Mr. Kellogg and similar criticism of Ms. Troye from Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, were part of an aggressive public relations attempt to denounce and discredit former administration officials who are increasingly speaking out against President Trump.

Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff to Kirstjen Nielsen, the former secretary of homeland security, last week announced a new organization with more than two dozen former administration officials and other Republicans who oppose Mr. Trump’s bid for a second term. Ms. Troye is a member of the group, as is Josh Venable, who served as chief of staff for Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education.

“These are not profiles in courage; these are profiles in cowardice,” Ms. McEnany said on Tuesday during a briefing with reporters.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms. Troye disputed Mr. Kellogg’s claim, adding a photo of a ceremonial coin that she said Mr. Kellogg had given her upon her departure.

“Sad that Gen. Kellogg is telling a bald faced lie to protect the President,” she wrote. “I resigned on my own accord & was asked to stay. He never escorted me out. He knows this. I wrote a note thanking all the colleagues who had worked so hard with me in spite of POTUS & I stand by that.”

Mr. Taylor issued a statement on Twitter after the briefing as well, saying: “The truth drives this White House crazy. My feelings aren’t hurt, @PressSec. But you didn’t specifically deny what I’ve said about POTUS. That’s because it’s all real. And y’all are worried about Americans hearing it.”

In an opinion essay posted on CNN’s website on Tuesday, Mr. Taylor praised Ms. Troye for coming forward, adding that senior administration officials had “sung her praises to me repeatedly during her two years at the White House.”

Ms. Troye, a lifelong Republican who had previously served in national security positions in the George W. Bush administration, came forward

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