Yesterday, federal prosecutors charged Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder with conspiracy to commit racketeering in an alleged $60 million bribery sceme connected to the state's bailout of First Energy's nuclear power plans. Also charged were Householder's aide Jeff Longstreth, former Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes. David DeVillers is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and he briefed reporters on the charges in Columbus yesterday. The affidavit does not name First Energy. But it says a Company A funnelled the $60 million through a nonprofit called Generation Now, which Householder allegedly ran. Prosecutors say Householder and his associates used that money to get him elected speaker, pass House Bill 6, thwart a petition drive and enrich themselves in the process. HB 6 provided a 1 point 3 billion dollar bailout for First Energy's nuclear plants and stuck ratepayers with the bill. It also weakened Ohio's renewable energy standards. Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed the bill, says Householder should resign. So do other statewide elected leaders and Ohio Senate Minority leader, Democrat Kenny Yuko, who voted for the bailout. There's a lot of news to unpack as we talk with Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler.
Also in this hour, we talk about Cleveland Scene Magazine, as earlier this year, they were busy planning a blowout to celebrate its 50th anniversary. It's a unique milestone for alt-weekly magazines, known for their sharp writing, long form journalism, and a willingness to poke powerful people in the eye. Then COVID-19 hit. With restaurants and bars closed, and movie theaters and music venues shuttered, Scene lost major sources of revenue. Scene laid off staff, and for the first time since July 1970, it stopped printing the magazine. Though it continues to publish online. Even before COVID-19, watchers of the media industry were writing obituaries for alt-weeklies. During the pandemic, many began asking readers for donations to stay afloat. That includes Scene. For now, the Scene soldiers on, having covered food, politics, all things Northeast Ohio, for better or for worse for 50 years; and launching the careers of nationally known writers along the way. We'll hear from current Editor-in-Chief Vince Grzegorek, past editor Pete Kotz, and former staff writer Kyle Swenson, who now writes for The Washington Post.
Karen Kasler, Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau Chief
Vince Grzegorek, Editor-in-Chief, Scene Magazine
Kyle Swenson, Washington Post Reporter & Former Reporter, Scene Magazine