Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) has been relatively quiet in the wake of Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Rep. Larry Householder’s (R-Glenford) arrest earlier this week on federal charges alleging his central involvement in a $60 million racketeering scheme designed to pass widely controversial 2019 legislation that bailed out Ohio First Energy nuclear plants.
Edwards, who serves on Householder’s leadership team as majority whip of the House, has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Athens NEWS and his social media profiles have since gone radio silent.
But he, alongside other members of the House majority leadership team, released a collective statement Tuesday night after the charges against Householder and his accomplices were made public.
“We were shocked to learn of the charges filed today against Speaker Householder. The Ohio House of Representative remains open, and the members and staff are continuing their work to serve the people of Ohio,” the House leaders said.
“We are reviewing the allegations. To our knowledge, no other member of the Ohio General Assembly is under investigation in connection with these allegations. We have not been in contact with Speaker Householder today. Due to the pending investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”
As of Friday, no formal charges have been brought against any other Ohio public officials and Edwards name wasn't explicitly mentioned in any documents related to the federal investigation into Householder and his accomplices.
It remains unclear if Edwards was directly involved with or had knowledge of Householder and his accomplices’ alleged plan to spend millions of dollars in First Energy money to pass the bailout legislation. It’s also unclear if Edwards has since been subpoenaed or if he is actively under review by federal authorities, as the investigation is still ongoing. It’s well known that Edwards is a personal friend of Householder.
The federal complaint filed against Householder and his accomplices, collectively referred to in the document as “The Enterprise,” describes their successful attempts to help elect members who would comprise “Team Householder.” Those on the team would be either wittingly or unwittingly instrumental in the enterprise’s alleged scheme to pass the bailout legislation, or House Bill 6.
Federal investigators uncovered a document from enterprise member Jeff Longstreth — Householder’s longtime political strategist — that describes a proposed list of individuals to comprise Householder’s leadership team should he win the speakership.
Those on that list include "Speaker of The House, Speaker Pro Tempore, Majority Floor Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Whip, and Assistant Majority Whip," according to the complaint.
"After Householder was elected speaker in 2019 all of the individuals, except for one, became part of Householder's leadership team. (The exception was a representative who did not support Householder for Speaker)."
According to House voting records, Edwards both supported Householder for speaker and voted to pass House Bill 6.
The complaint also alleged that Longstreth’s list of potential candidates for the leadership team mirrored House members that First Energy intended to support.
State campaign finance records show that First Energy’s PAC gave $5,000 to Edwards’ campaign the day before the 2018 general election when the representative won re-election, though the energy company also financially supported him in years past with donations that exceed the amount given to him that year.
Householder’s public-facing PAC, Friends of Householder, didn’t fund Edwards’ 2018 campaign, though the speaker funded several other Republican candidates that year, as did First Energy, according to Cleveland.com.
The enterprise ultimately funded 21 candidate’s campaigns in 2018, totaling spending of between $2.5 million and $3 million, according to the complaint.
Householder’s accomplices also created a federal PAC, the name of which is redacted in the documents, and allegedly funneled First Energy money into it.
The PAC, which investigators discovered was controlled by Longstreth, was used in the 2018 primaries to conceal the source of media advertisements for candidates Householder wanted elected to aid him in passing the bailout bill.
In total, the PAC spent $1 million in First Energy money in 2018. The PAC also spent more than $1 million to benefit “Team Householder” candidates in the 2020 primary, the complaint said.