Nick Tomboulides: Sometimes a group of really smart people will believe something that isn’t true at all. For example, Aristotle didn’t think the world was round, and just a century ago, doctors thought smoking was good for you. Today, we’re looking at another pernicious myth, one that pervades our politics, and that a lot of experts, pundits, professors, politicians and so-called smart people believe it, it’s the false notion that lobbyists are fans of term limits. And yes, we’ve covered this before, but today we’re looking at it through the lens of Larry Householder, one of America’s most corrupt politicians who maybe you’ve never heard of before. This is one of the biggest term limit stories in years. And you won’t wanna miss it. Welcome to the No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Nick Tomboulides: So welcome to the podcast. I will be flying solo today, this is Nick Tomboulides. And we are looking at the curious case of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, who wanted to hold on to his seat in the House for a very long time, but it was foiled by a little bugaboo known as a federal criminal investigation. So in July of 2020, the Speaker of the Ohio House was arrested for bribery as part of an FBI investigation, and that in and of itself isn’t shocking. It happens a lot. Heck, that’s why we’re for term limits. But this one, Larry Householder’s case was pretty notable for its size and its shamelessness. The alleged scheme went like this. FirstEnergy, which is a struggling nuclear power company around the year 2016, would pump 60 million bucks into a non-profit controlled by Householder, who is a former Speaker of the Ohio House. Householder then steered their money into political campaigns to become Ohio Speaker of the House once again, and he also steered that money toward a tax payer-funded bailout for the nuclear power company, FirstEnergy. So it’s a classic pay-to-play. This power company, these power brokers, they’re lobbyists, they’re lining the pockets of a well-healed powerful politician in order to get a bailout from the state.
Nick Tomboulides: So FirstEnergy was the only donor to Householder’s non-profit, which was supposed to spend the money for social welfare reasons. But instead all $60 million went into Householder’s bank account. That money helped elect the speakers allies to the Ohio House. Well, it helped elect Householder allies to the Ohio House before he became speaker, in order to make him the speaker, because the way this works is you become Speaker of the House, you become Senate President through a vote of your peers, so if this power company and Householder could get a bunch of his allies elected in Ohio, those people could then turn around and vote to make him the kingpin, they could vote to make him the speaker and that is exactly what happened.
Nick Tomboulides: So once Householder was in power, he along with these other politicians he helped elect with the dirty money passed House Bill 6, which was a bailout for FirstEnergy, it was a bailout for that struggling nuclear power company to the tune of $1.5 billion, and even more shameless, this bailout added a new tax to the power bill of every resident in Ohio, so no matter how rich or poor someone might be in Ohio, they are footing the bill for this corrupt scheme, they are signing the check on this bailout that was arranged by Larry Householder.
Nick Tomboulides: Now, along the way, there were other legislators, people of conscience who tried to speak up against this, who tried to question why it was so important to hand $1.5 billion to the speaker’s favored nuclear power company and what did Householder do? He threatened them. He bullied his fellow legislators who wanted to vote against the bailout, he threatened to take away their committee chairmanships, he threatened to ensure their legislation would never pass. He bullied them. And you know, I see this all the time in Florida, where if you have a legislator who thinks independently and challenges the Speaker of the House, that person may not see any of their bills see the light of day, they may become ostracized, they may be stripped of committee chairmanships, happens in Florida, happens in Congress, happens in Ohio. And Larry Householder, he was really at the nexus of those threats, of that bullying.
Nick Tomboulides: So he was using his legislative office basically as a weapon of mass corruption, he was accepting bribes and looting from the taxpayers, he was also using the bribery funds to block opposing groups from giving the people of Ohio a vote on these nuclear power companies, so he wanted to just jam it down everyone’s throats through the legislature, he didn’t want there to be a state-wide vote, but when some of his opponents started questioning this scheme and trying to get a state-wide vote, he dispersed money to the petition companies to make sure that that couldn’t happen, he basically paid some of these firms to not work for his opposition, he paid them to do nothing. He was that corrupt.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. We have not yet entered election season, but candidates are already getting registered to run for office. Over 1000 new candidates have already filed paperwork to fundraise for congressional races, and more have filed candidate paperwork to fundraise for state legislative races. We ask Congressional candidates to sign the US Term Limits Pledge. That pledge reads, I pledge to co-sponsor and vote for the US Term Limits amendment of three House terms and two Senate terms and no longer limit, and this week we had 10 new Congressional candidates sign that pledge, but there are two ways to amend the constitution, the states can initiate a term limits amendment convention. This requires state legislatures to pass resolutions. There are 99 state legislatures in the country, and there are over 7300 state legislative seats in those legislatures, over 6000 of those seats are going to be up for election in November 2022, and candidates are already getting into those races. We ask candidates for these seats to sign this pledge. I pledge that as a member of the state legislature, I will co-sponsor, vote for and defend the resolution applying for an Article V Convention for the sole purpose of an acting term limits on Congress.
Scott Tillman: This week we had 14 candidates for state legislature sign this pledge. Pledge season is just getting started, and we need your help collecting pledges from candidates and from incumbents. You can follow us on Facebook to see all the recent signers in your states, and to keep up with the new term limits news, and you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s S-T-I-L-L-M-A-N@termlimits.com. For instructions on how you can contact candidates in your area and ask them to sign these pledges. Help the movement by taking an action to help us term limit Congress.
Nick Tomboulides: So we know Householder, we knew it already, that he was a thuggish, corrupt, criminal politician, but what we’ve just learned recently is that while he was engaged in all this criminal behavior, he was also colluding with FirstEnergy with these nuclear power lobbyists to demolish the term limits In Ohio. So that he could stay in power through 2036.
Nick Tomboulides: This is a new story, new reporting coming out from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, big newspaper out there. FirstEnergy’s lobbyists recently made a deal with prosecutors in the speaker’s case to divulge how they were helping him along the way, they were helping them in this process, and it turns out they were also helping the speaker repeal Ohio’s term limits law. So in February 2020, right before the pandemic, a mysterious proposal appeared on the scenes in Ohio, mysterious ballot measure appeared on the scenes that would have altered the term limits for state legislators from the current eight years to 16 years, in addition to resetting the clock for all existing legislators. So if you were in Larry Householder’s position, you had already served and you were about to hit your next term limit, this would have been a big fat reset button that gives you an additional 16 years in office, but it would have been sold to the people of Ohio as these tough, tight term limits in order to get it passed so it would have been a big switch. But at the time, Householder was questioned about this proposal in February of 2020, and he claimed to have no knowledge about it, he said in speaking with the media at the time, he was very clever, he did not admit that this anti-term limits bill was his idea, but behind the scenes, he was scheming with these lobbyists to make term limits disappear.
Nick Tomboulides: In fact, he texted the lobbyists from FirstEnergy and he said, “He would get a lot more done in 16 years than eight.” Yeah, no doubt about that. A lot more larceny, I’m sure. There was also a text message from one of the FirstEnergy executives that was recovered by federal investigators, this executive said getting rid of term limits would be good for the home team, meaning good for the lobbyists who wanted to get their grubby paws on $1.6 billion in public money, because they knew if they did that, they would be able to control Householder for another 16 years. Not having term limits around would mean a blank check for all the power brokers in Ohio, all these sleazebags to basically write their ticket, write the laws of Ohio, the people would be damned, if term limits went away, lobbyists are in charge. The nuclear power lobbyists then secretly funneled two million bucks into a pack to help speaker Householder get the term limits repealed and the political analysis in Ohio say, if not for the pandemic, if not for the shutdowns and some of these court cases, Householder and his corrupt team probably would have been successful in getting this on the ballot, might have even been successful in getting Ohio’s term limits repealed.
Nick Tomboulides: It’s quite shocking. So to recap, the lobbyist gave Householder 60 million, he turned around and got them 1.5 billion in tax payer dollars. That is a return on investment, an ROI of 2400%. That’s better than Bitcoin folks. So then after enriching themselves and stealing from the public trough, all of these crooks got together and they tried to repeal term limits so that they could do it again and again and again and again for the next two decades. It’s extraordinary, and if nothing else, this story absolutely shatters the myth that lobbyists benefit from term limits, because we have seen time and time again, just as in this case, it is access to career politicians like Larry Householder, that lobbyists prize above all else. And based on everything we’re seeing here, this uber corrupt lawmaker, Larry Householder, he viewed term limits as the impediment on his road to riches, he viewed it as a stumbling block, he had the Scooby-Doo mentality of, I would have gotten away with it if not for you meddling term limits.
Nick Tomboulides: Sadly, many of them do get away with it for decades. There’s Mike Madigan in Illinois, Sheldon Silver in New York, Quinn Kareen Browne and many others in Congress. When there are no term limits, you not only see more corruption, but often you don’t catch it until it’s too late.
Kenn Quinn: Hi, this is Kenn Quinn, Regional Director with US Term Limits. In today’s Article V in a flash segment, we are going to look at one of the best examples to prove that an Article V Convention is a limited convention and not an open one that can propose any amendment it wants. All we need to do is simply review the history of Article V applications passed by the state legislatures. Since 1788, there have been over 400 Article V applications submitted to Congress, which is a whole lot more than the 34 needed to force Congress to call a convention. If the convention was not limited, Congress should have called at least 12 conventions by now, so how come one has never been called? Is Congress refusing to do so? Not at all. The reason a convention has not been called is due to the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the state legislatures must apply for the same amendment or subject and this has never happened. We have come very close to reaching the two-thirds requirement, but have never actually achieved it. We’ll take a look at that in a future segment, you can check out the history of these applications by visiting the Article V library by clicking the link under the flash card titled, “The over 400 Article V applications passed by the state legislatures prove an Article V convention is limited,” at termlimits.com/debunking myths. Thank you.
Nick Tomboulides: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits convention bills are moving through the state legislatures, this could be a breakthrough year for the term limits movement. To check on the status of the term limits convention resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state, click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators urging them to support the legislation, they have to know you’re watching, that’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits convention resolution or the bill has not been introduced in your state, you can still help, please consider making a contribution to US Term Limits. It is our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate, termlimits.com/donate. Thanks. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Speaker 5: USTL.