This story is published in collaboration with Belt Magazine.
On a warm morning in July of 2020, FBI agents and local sheriff’s deputies converged on a farmhouse just outside the tiny town of Glenford in central Ohio. They led away a blue-eyed man wearing a gray Carhartt T-shirt and baggy jeans. He was heavy around the middle, clean-shaven, with closely shorn white hair. His name was Larry Householder, insurance man, gentleman farmer, and the powerful leader of a Republican supermajority in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Federal prosecutors brought Householder before a judge and laid out their findings. Their investigation suggested the politician had orchestrated a grand conspiracy in which three electric utilities — FirstEnergy, its former subsidiary Energy Harbor, and American Electric Power — gave Householder a $60 million slush fund to help get like-minded politicians into the Ohio legislature. In exchange, Householder helped steer billions of dollars in subsidies their way.
As Householder left the courthouse, his head bowed, the yellow straps of an N95 mask cutting into the back of his neck, a gaggle of reporters thrus... Read more