Bankruptcy court agrees to wait longer for responses from HB6 lobbyists
U.S. bankruptcy court judge Alan Koschik on Tuesday gave Akron-based Energy Harbor three months to file documents detailing how four mercenaries intervened in Ohio Statehouse Politics and House Bill 6.
Last year Koschik asked four men from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to give him answers about their involvement in legislative races and the passage of the energy bill. Energy Harbor hired Akin Gump, an international law firm, to help it with its bankruptcy and lobbying efforts. In January, Koschik agreed to a six-month deadline for responses.
After:Sell in the Statehouse
Energy Harbor attorney Jonathan Streeter told Koschik on Tuesday that the men had filled out the “statements,” but making those statements public while Energy Harbor cooperates with federal prosecutors would be detrimental. Energy Harbor needs more time to secretly cooperate with federal prosecutors, he argued.
Energy Harbor, formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions and owner of two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2018 and emerged in February 2020. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the The state passed a $ 1.3 billion bailout bill that would provide a subsidy to keep nuclear power plants operating as well as other benefits to utilities.
Now this bailout bill is the subject of a criminal racketeering case. Two men indicted in the case – former Ohio House President Larry Householder and former Ohio GOP President Matt Borges – have pleaded not guilty. Two others – lobbyist Juan Cespedes and political strategist Jeff Longstreth – signed guilty pleas in October. A fifth man, lobbyist Neil Clark, committed suicide in March.
Energy Harbor and its former parent company, FirstEnergy Corp., have publicly stated that they are cooperating with prosecutors and FirstEnergy has revealed that it is in talks to secure a deferred lawsuit agreement.
Koschik said he wanted to “stay in his lane” and avoid meddling in the US District Court’s criminal case. He set October 12 as the new deadline for Akin Gump officials to submit the statements.
Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.