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

Read more

The Belgian Rose Garden That Inspires Two Fashion Designers

“I saw the garden before I saw anything else,” says Bernadette de Geyter, 55, of her Antwerp home, which, with its dusty yellow facade and tiled hip roof, is evocative of a rustic Provençal manor house. “We bought it from a Frenchwoman who knew the name of every plant in both Latin and French,” she adds of the grounds surrounding the two-story bastide, which was built in the late ’90s. Botanical lexicons aside, it’s easy to see how de Geyter — who worked as a buyer for Ralph Lauren before launching her mohair knitwear line, Made by Bernadette, eight years ago — fell for the five-bedroom property with ivy covering its exterior and an acacia tree growing by the downstairs windows alongside various boxwood hedges. Not long after purchasing the place — located some 30 minutes from Antwerp’s city center — 12 years ago, de Geyter planted two apple trees and a rose garden, which blooms in the spring and early summer with bursts of soft pink (Chapeau de Napoléon), hot pink (La Ville de Bruxelles) and white (Boule de Neige). Every year, she enjoys cutting the flowers and placing them in vintage vases throughout the house.

“A warm atmosphere is important to me,” says de Geyter, who has filled her home with all manner of antiques she’s found at Vossenmarkt, a high-end Brussels flea market. She describes Belgium as a place with a lot of gray light, and to counterbalance this, she has punctuated many of the rooms with table lamps that she turns on or off as the sun moves from east to west. The result? Walls and other surfaces are perpetually bathed in a soft, warm glow. De Geyter is particularly fond of the color pink and has found ways to use

Read more