Former Ohio House speaker expected to take the stand as his defense prepares to rest
Defense attorneys in the federal racketeering trial of Republican former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges started their case on Monday after the prosecution rested.
And already, lawyers for Householder are signaling that they may rest before the end of the week, and will call a big witness Wednesday.
Householder and Borges have maintained their innocence against charges they were part of a $61 million bribery scheme to pass the 2019 nuclear power plant bailout for FirstEnergy.
While it’s unclear if Borges will testify, Householder is expected to take the stand Wednesday, and is likely to talk about pushing bailout because it was good policy, which is what his team’s first witness, Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), said on the stand Monday.
But Tuesday morning Judge Timothy Black repeated a statement he’d made before the trial started, that the merits of the law aren’t relevant – though prosecutors asked the lawmakers they called as witnesses why they voted against it.
Republican former lawmaker Jim Trakas testified for Householder. Trakas was hoping to return to the House as part of a slate of lawmakers supported by Householder in 2018, but said he wasn't pressured to support Householder for speaker if he were to be elected. Trakas was defeated by Phil Robinson (D-Solon).
Republican former lawmaker Nino Vitale, now a Champaign County commissioner, also testified. He told jurors he supported Householder as speaker after interviewing both Householder and Ryan Smith, who was elected speaker in June 2018 after the resignation of speaker Cliff Rosenberger. Householder was not among the Republicans nominated in that floor vote, but he beat Smith when they ran against each other for speaker the following January.