Texts show Ex-House speaker pushed lawmaker to pass bailout


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio lawmaker leading the charge to repeal a nuclear bailout bill was unsuccessfully pressured by the former House speaker to vote in favor of its passage, newly released records show.

In late May 2019, former House Speaker Larry Householder texted his fellow GOP colleague Rep. Dave Greenspan to ensure he had his vote for the bill that is now at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe, according to a series of text messages released by the Ohio House on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in July accused Householder and four others of shepherding energy company money for personal and political use as part of an effort to pass the legislation, then kill any attempt to repeal it at the polls. All five men have pleaded not guilty.

“I really need you to vote yes on HB6, it means a lot to me,” Householder wrote in the text messages released Thursday. “Can I count on you?”

The bill in question would send more than $1 billion to two Ohio nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo now owned by Energy Harbor, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.

It just so happened that Greenspan was sitting down for an interview with FBI agents when he received the text message from Householder, according to the criminal complaint, which identified Greenspan as “Representative 7.”

Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, responded no to Householder’s request, citing “significant challenges” with the bill.

Householder replied, “I just want

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GOP lawmaker Mike Garcia seeks to cement hold on California House seat

Republican Rep. Mike Garcia and Democratic State Assemblywoman Christy Smith face off again in November after Garcia won a special election in May to represent California’s 25th Congressional District.

The seat was prematurely vacated by former Rep. Katie Hill, a freshman Democrat, who resigned from office on Nov. 3 after nude photos of her were posted online with stories describing her relationship with a young female campaign staffer and an alleged relationship with a congressional staffer. Hill disputed the latter claim.

One month before the special election, the Cook Political Report changed the district’s rating from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss Up.”

Garcia, the son of a Mexican immigrant, graduated from the United States Naval Academy after being nominated by then-Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican who previously represented the district. Garcia became the first Republican to pick up a House seat in California since 1998. He flew combat missions in Iraq and later served for 10 years as an executive on the board at Raytheon.

Smith is a former official at the California Department of Education. She climbed through the ranks of the department and raised $2 million in 2018 to win her state Assembly seat against a Republican incumbent, but her efforts against Garcia nearly two years later did not prevail when Garcia won by a 12-point margin.

Smith’s campaign took a hit during the special election when she slammed Garcia’s military service on a Zoom call with supporters. She later apologized for her comments.

Republicans previously held the 25th District, which spans northern Los Angeles County and part of neighboring Ventura County, for over two decades, mainly by McKeon and for two terms thereafter by his Republican successor, Steve Knight. However, in 2018 Knight lost by a 7-point margin to Hill, a first-time candidate who capitalized on the Democratic “blue wave” of the 2018 midterm elections.

House Republicans need to gain about 17 seats to reclaim the House majority they lost two years ago. Garcia winning reelection is a key part of that plan. The seat also has a certain emotional resonance because it borders on that of the Bakersfield-based district held by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one of the most conservative parts of otherwise liberal California.

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