Ohio governor supports nuclear bailout law despite scandal

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State Sen. Sean O'Brien, D-Bazetta, right, is joined by state Reps. Gil Blair, D-Weathersfield, left center, and Michael O'Brien, D-Warren, left, during a news conference Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Warren, Ohio. The three are calling for the immediate repeal of the nuclear plant bailout law at the center of a bribery scandal surrounding Republican Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. (Youngstown Business Journal/Steve Peterson via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A nuclear plant bailout law should remain in place, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday, even as a bribery scandal involving one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers unfolded over the law’s passage and both Democratic and GOP lawmakers called for its repeal.

DeWine's comments came a day after Larry Householder, the Republican speaker of the Ohio House, and four associates were arrested in a $60 million federal bribery case connected to the taxpayer-funded bailout.

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the ploy as likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme that has “ever been perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”

DeWine said he's long advocated for a balanced energy policy for Ohio, which includes the carbon-free energy provided by the state's two nuclear power plants. He said he was also concerned about the jobs that would be lost if the plants were closed.

“The policy is good policy,” the governor said of the energy bill. “Because people did bad things does not mean the policy is not a good policy.”

DeWine, who signed the original bill, said it had been obvious that a lot of money was being spent on supporting the bailout and then stopping an attempt to repeal it at the ballot.

“There was no indication that anything illegal was going on,” the governor said.

DeWine said he first learned of the scandal Tuesday and no one in his administration has been contacted by investigators. His office has no involvement in the scandal, the governor said.