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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | New York transit warns of $16 billion shortfall … After months of debate, Minnesota legislature passes sweeping criminal justice bill … Florida governor gets the Lincoln Project treatment.
Ohio’s House speaker was arrested Tuesday with four others in what federal authorities described as a $60 million racketeering and bribery scheme. Speaker Larry Householder was arrested at his farm, while former state Republican chairman and consultant Matthew Borges, Jeffrey Longstreth, a longtime adviser of the speaker, and lobbyists Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark, were also taken into custody. An 82-page criminal complaint filed in federal court accuses the men of taking money from a utility that wanted a bailout for two economically failing nuclear power plants. Over three years, the complaint says millions in payments were made using a 504(c)4 nonprofit, often called a “dark money” operation, that was controlled by Householder. The money was used to fuel Householder’s contentious bid to become speaker—including backing the 2018 election campaigns of 21 House candidates—as well as secure and defend the bailout, the complaint states. While Householder was speaker, the Republican-led legislature approved a bill to provide a $1.3 billion bailout for First Energy Solutions, which was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in July 2019. The bailout will be paid by electricity customers in monthly fees. The complaint details at least $23 million passed through the dark money group used to block a ballot initiative to overturn the law. But the feds also say the defendants benefited personally. "The millions paid into the entity were akin to bags of cash," the complaint states. "Unlike campaign or PAC contributions, they were not regulated, not reported, not subject to public scrutiny—and the enterprise freely spent the bribe payments to further the enterprise’s political interests and to enrich themselves.” The almost two-year FBI investigation into the alleged scheme included undercover agents meeting with Householder and Clark, as well as gathering text messages and emails. After the complaint was unveiled, DeWine, also a Republican, called on Householder to resign immediately. "Because of the nature of these charges, it will be impossible for Speaker Householder to effectively lead the Ohio House of Representatives," he said. The defendants made their initial appearances electronically on Tuesday and were released from custody. [Cincinnati Enquirer; Akron Beacon Journal; Cleveland.com]
SUBWAY DEFICIT | New York City’s transit service is facing a $16.2 billion budget shortfall through 2024. The city is now considering measures including reducing service, cutting jobs in the transit workforce, and raising tolls.“There have been financial crises before, but never one where the deficits were measured in billions on top of billions on top of billions of dollars,” said Patrick J. Foye, the Metropolitan Transit Agency chairman. “That’s why these unpalatable, unacceptable alternatives have to be considered.” [New York Times]
MINNESOTA POLICING LAWS | Minnesota lawmakers have passed a sweeping bill to change policing in the state. The legislation comes after the May killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis sparked widespread debate and protests about law enforcement and racial inequities. The legislation, sent to Gov. Tim Walz, who is expected to sign it, was the subject of intense negotiations that lasted for months. If it becomes law, Minnesota will ban chokeholds and “warrior” training for police, as well as require police to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force. The bill would also create a new investigative unit to look into police use of force and would provide incentives for police to live in the communities where they work. [Star-Tribune; Minnesota Reformer]
OUTDOOR SALONS | California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week that more businesses will be allowed to open if they conduct their operations outdoors. Businesses like salons, barbershops, and massage services will now be included in those that can move outdoors while indoor services remain closed. [ABC 7]
GOVERNOR PARODY | The Lincoln Project, a group of Republican political operatives who are creating ads against President Trump for the election, took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was confronted by protesters on Monday during a briefing about the state’s coronavirus surge.
The video shows a bemused-looking DeSantis silenced by the protesters shouting, “Shame on you, Ron DeSantis” and other slogans, until the theme song from HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” begins to play as the camera zooms in on the governor’s face. Episodes of that show typically end with star Larry David caught in an awkward or embarrassing situation as the music begins to play. “We had no choice,” the Lincoln Project tweeted. [Florida Politics]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.