LIMA — State Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said this week that Republican lawmakers likely will return a portion of political campaign contributions received over the past two years from FirstEnergy, the Akron-based utility company alleged to have illegally funneled $60 million in payments to powerful state officials to gain favor for a nuclear energy bailout bill.
Huffman himself has received more than $40,000 in campaign contributions from political action committees associated with FirstEnergy since 2015. He said lawmakers “are trying to do the right thing” when it comes to what to do with what is perceived to be tainted money.
“This is an extraordinary situation,” Huffman said, “and it’s something we’ve been discussing with the folks in our (Republican) caucus. I think there’s an obligation to donate some of that money we’ve received over the last couple of years to charity. We’re just trying to figure out how to do that.”
House Bill 6, approved by both chamber of the Ohio legislature in the summer of 2019, imposed a fee of 85 cents a month on most residential ratepayers in Ohio through 2027. Huffman said that because discussions surrounding HB 6 “first showed up” in 2019 that there is a prevailing thought that contributions received since that time should be donated.
Campaign finance documents show that Huffman’s campaign committee received $12,707 from First Energy PAC on June 2 of this year. In 2019 the Lima senator’s campaign received four separate contributions from FirstEnergy political action committees totaling $15,915.
Contributions from the energy giant to Huffman’s campaign coffers in 2018 totaled $7,500.
State Rep. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, has not receive any no campaign contributions from FirstEnergy since 2018.
The Friends of Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) committee received a $500 contribution from the energy firm in October of last year. The Friends of John Cross (R-Kenton) committe received contributions of $2,500 and $500 in 2019.
Huffman has joined a chorus of other Ohio lawmakers in calling for House Speaker Larry Householder to resign amid allegations he accepted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for legislative support for a bailout bill for the struggling nuclear energy company. Householder thus far has indicated he has no plan to leave office.
“The federal corruption case Larry Householder faces is shocking and deeply troubling. Conspiracy and racketeering represent an egregious affront to the rule of law, to the legislative process and to the people of Ohio,” Huffman said in a statement.
“Based on the sheer gravity and scope of the charges, I believe he should resign as Speaker of the Ohio House. If he fails to resign, I urge my colleagues in the House to immediately remove him as Speaker and expel him from the legislature.”
“They need to meet and get this resolved; they need a leader,” Huffman said.
He called on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to call the House back into session as soon as possible.