Like wild mushrooms after a warm summer rain, and undaunted by the COVIDs, the fraudsters, the grifters, and the “the spawn of the Devil’s own strumpet”* were prolific before meeting the wrath of the courts and the regulators in 2021. This year features several potential lifetime achievement awards for recidivism.
Corruption Goes Nuclear
Perps: Former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and utility First Energy, beneficiary of a $1.3 billion state bailout of the state’s nuclear energy industry.
Crime: Householder was indicted on racketeering and conspiracy charges for taking bribes from FirstEnergy. Others were charged for crimes.
How they did it: The utility paid $56.6 million to an outfit called Generation Now who allegedly siphoned it off to Householder and the others. The money came from customers of First Energy’s distribution and transmission units.
Sentences: Plenty but none yet to the calaboose. Householder’s trial date is coming up. Republicans and Democrats together expelled him from the House; First Energy CEO Charles Jones was fired; two others pled guilty; a lobbyist committed suicide; First Energy was fined $230MM and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.
The big picture: Forbes’ Ken Silverstein predicts that it will jar an industry that is perpetually trying to regain its balance after much bad publicity. Plus, high capital costs for construction and cheap shale gas have curtailed nuclear development, presenting a problem…