The amazing thing about the Ohio Republican Party is that Gym Jordan isn’t even the worst one:
What these polls might not be capturing, however, is a series of recent scandals involving Ohio Republicans. These events might give anti-Trumpers reason to hope the president’s prospects here are in jeopardy.
On July 21, the Republican speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry Householder, was awakened by federal agents converging on his southeastern Ohio farmhouse. They were there to arrest him in connection with a $60 million racketeering and bribery investigation. Four others — lobbyists and Householder associates — were also arrested around the state in connection with the probe.
According to the criminal complaint, Householder funneled millions of dollars in contributions from Akron-based electric utility FirstEnergy Solutions into a non-reportable account. He then used the funds both for personal expenses and to support the 2018 election of Republican lawmakers — dubbed “Team Householder” — who would be loyal to him, back his bid to become speaker and then push for legislation providing a $1 billion taxpayer bailout for two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio.
Indeed, as planned, Householder was elected speaker last year in a close vote after he cut a deal with Democrats. The bailout bill passed the legislature and was quickly signed into law by Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine. A referendum effort to overturn the bill was opposed by FirstEnergy, Householder and others using money and tactics that also factor into the federal charges.
“This is likely the largest bribery, money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” said U.S. Attorney David DeVillers. “This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.”
After the scandal broke, DeWine and others initially resisted calls to repeal the tainted legislation. “The policy is good policy,” the governor said on July 22. “Because people did bad things does not mean the policy is not a good policy.” But the next day, DeWine reversed course. “No matter how good this policy is, the process by which this bill was passed is simply not acceptable,” DeWine said. “That process, I believe, has forever tainted the bill and now the law itself.”
Will this make Ohio competitive for Biden? Despite relatively close polling now I doubt it, and in a sense it doesn’t matter — the odds it will be a tipping point state are remote. But it’s kind of amazing to be too corrupt to keep your job as speaker as a Republican in 2020.