Extreme Temperature Diary-Friday July 24, 2020/ Main Topics: Deep Corruption In Ohio And Elsewhere From Fossil Fuel Interests/Prolonged U.S. Heatwave Update #20

Friday July 24th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topics: Deep Corruption In Ohio And Elsewhere From Fossil Fuel Interests/Prolonged U.S. Heatwave Update #20

Dear Diary. We barely have a heat wave in some areas of the United States today, so our main topic will be shifting to other areas of interest.

My jaw has been dropping the last few days as I find out more about corruption from fossil fuel interests, deeper than any I’ve known about the last few decades. That coming from Ohio is particularly egregious involving government officials all the way up to Republican Governor Mike DeWine. Leah Stokes, a climate policy professor from MIT and Columbia University, as been reporting on this corruption as well as that from other states this month. Check out some of her Twitter messages:

Hear is more from the Washington Post on the Ohio energy scandal:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/07/22/ohio-house-speaker-arrested-republican/

GOP Ohio House speaker arrested in connection to $60 million bribery scheme

By Teo Armus July 22, 2020 at 3:47 a.m. PDT

Months after he was elected as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives last year, Larry Householder began an aggressive campaign to bail out two of the state’s nuclear power plants.

That’s where Householder came in to help. In the 2018 election cycle, millions in the company’s funds bankrolled the campaigns of 21 state House candidates, the complaint said. DeVillers called the group “Team Householder” because they helped push the politician across the finish line in his race for speaker.

The $1.3 billion initiative was controversial and jammed through at the last minute, but Householder amassed just enough support among a bipartisan group of colleagues to save the facilities. When a referendum effort threatened to overturn the law, the 61-year-old GOP legislator allegedly organized a massive effort to quash the petition.

Prosecutors now say his push for the bailout — as well as his rise to one of the state’s most powerful political offices — was the result of a sprawling, $60 million bribery scheme that prompted many of Ohio’s top Republicans to call for Householder’s resignation into Wednesday morning.AD

In an 82-page federal complaint unsealed on Tuesday, prosecutors accused him and four others of spinning up a “criminal enterprise” that collected $60 million in dark money from a struggling energy company.

The company was not named in the complaint, but it appears to be Energy Harbor, an Akron-based power firm previously named FirstEnergy Solutions that owns the two northern Ohio nuclear plants receiving the bailout.

Hours after Householder was arrested Tuesday at his farm near Columbus, many of the state’s top Republicans, including Gov. Mike DeWine, called on the lawmaker to resign.

“Because of the nature of these charges, it will be impossible for Speaker Householder to effectively lead the Ohio House of Representatives,” DeWine wrote on Twitter. “This is a sad day for Ohio.”

While leaving federal court Tuesday, the speaker told a reporter for WSYX that he does not plan to leave office.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, said Householder and his associates campaigned for the bailout in exchange for hefty payments they used to fund his bid for speaker, enrich themselves and hide their scheme.

“This is likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said at a news conference. “This was bribery, plain and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.”

Besides Householder, four others — his adviser Jeffrey Longstreth, former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges, and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes — were each charged with a racketeering conspiracy and taken into custody Tuesday. They each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The lawmaker, who represents a district east of Columbus, first arrived at the state House more than two decades ago. He was elected as House speaker in 2001 and stepped down almost four years later because of term limits. At the time, he and several aides were being investigated for possible money laundering. The federal probe was closed without any charges being filed.

After winning his old seat back in 2016, his profile shot up quickly. Amid infighting among Ohio Republicans, he embarked on a multimillion-dollar bid for the speaker’s gavel less than two years later.

DeVillers, the U.S. attorney, said there was a “strong inference” in the complaint that the alleged bribery scheme began when Householder reached out to FirstEnergy during his campaign, rather than the other way around.

“This enterprise went looking for someone to bribe them,” DeVillers said.

FirstEnergy, which was struggling to compete with cleaner, newer energy sources, appeared to be a promising target. Already facing a grim future, the utility had been engaging in talks with state officials over a possible bailout for its coal and nuclear plants.

That’s where Householder came in to help. In the 2018 election cycle, millions in the company’s funds bankrolled the campaigns of 21 state House candidates, the complaint said. DeVillers called the group “Team Householder” because they helped push the politician across the finish line in his race for speaker.AD

Those lawmakers also proved instrumental in helping FirstEnergy. In July 2019, all but one voted for House Bill 6, which included the nuclear bailout and also slashed subsidies for renewable energy, prosecutors said.

As consumer advocates and the natural gas industry started a referendum last summer to challenge the law, a nonprofit political group called Generation Now launched a forceful campaign to quash that effort, including hiring people to intimidate petition canvassers. Among dozens of mailers and TV ads, one warned that China was trying to take over Ohio’s power system, the complaint said.

Prosecutors say it was another part of the plot. Generation Now was an “entity secretly controlled by Householder,” the complaint said, receiving payments “akin to bags of cash” that, unlike regular campaign contributions, were “not regulated, not reported, not subject to public scrutiny.”

Of the $63 million involved in the alleged scheme, as much as $38 million went to the nonprofit group. The company also wired $500,000 into Householder’s personal accounts, including more than $100,000 that was spent on the speaker’s residence in Florida, the complaint said.

In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Energy Harbor said it was reviewing the complaint and would cooperate with government investigators.

Tuesday’s arrests are only the start for the corruption saga. Ohio’s secretary of state, Frank LaRose, said he had alerted the state’s elections commission over 19 possible violations of campaign finance law tied to the alleged scheme. DeVillers said federal agents would continue to interview possible witnesses and execute search warrants.

“We’re not done with this case,” he said. “There are a lot of federal agents knocking on a lot of doors.”

Teo ArmusTeo Armus is a reporter for The Washington Post’s Morning Mix team. He previously covered race, immigration and identity issues for the Charlotte Observer.Follow

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Sigh. As I learned from reading Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout, the tentacles of fossil fuel interests are intertwined so deeply in society that it maybe impossible for the planet to totally move towards green energy before it is too late.

I’ll be reporting more on fossil fuel corruption in the next few weeks and months. Keep checking my daily news feed to see messages with article links on this subject.

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As far as our prolonged heat wave goes, as usual let’s access U.S. heat levels for the next two days. Our low level CAT 1 heat wave won’t change much through Saturday, but heat levels will slowly increase in the Midwest and decrease in the South. Heat advisories are increasing in coverage from the National Weather Service across the Midwest:

Some areas in Oregon also have heat advisories.

I don’t see any area at all that will see record temperatures, and to be frank this temperature regime for Saturday is historically typical for late July.

Like I wrote yesterday we will soon see an end to dangerous heat east of the Rockies:

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”

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