legislative

Ohio House Bill 6 scandal inspires more questionable attacks in state legislative races

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Republican-controlled legislature passed Ohio House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout law that’s now at the center of a federal corruption investigation, and a Republican governor signed it.

But some Democrats played supporting roles in the bill becoming law, too, while some Republicans aggressively opposed it.

Don’t expect any of that nuance to be captured in political attacks that are swirling in hotly contested state legislative races.

One audacious ad from the Ohio Republican Party attacks Alexis Miller, the Democratic nominee for House District 89 in Northern Ohio.

The ad attempts to tie Miller, a first-time candidate, to the HB6 scandal by noting – accurately – that House Democrats provided the votes for state Rep. Larry Householder to be elected speaker. Householder and four allies, including a former Ohio Republican Party chairman, were arrested in July for allegedly using more than $60 million in bribe money from FirstEnergy Corp. to secure the passage of the law, which gives a former subsidiary $1.3 billion in ratepayer money to support two nuclear power plants.

“If Alexis Miller’s campaign is supported by the same people who supported Larry Householder, how can we trust her?” the mailer asks.

What the ad doesn’t mention is that Miller’s GOP opponent, state Rep. D.J. Swearingen, was appointed to the legislature by Householder, a Republican. Swearingen also received donations from FirstEnergy, ex-FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes, who was among those arrested, and the House GOP campaign committee, which was financially supported by Householder’s operation.

Another mailer from the Ohio Democratic Party ties state Rep. Dave Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, to the HB6 scandal. Greenspan, first elected in 2016, is running against Monique Smith, a Democrat and former Lakewood city councilwoman.

The ad, which references the federal investigation as the “largest bribery and money laundering scheme

Illinois Democrats look to win more suburban state legislative seats in November despite corruption probe

After winning a slew of suburban state legislative seats long held by Republicans in 2018, Illinois Democrats are looking to expand their reach even further in November as renewed controversy swirls around their powerful leader, longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan.



a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli.


© Grant Wehrli campaign/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli.

Republicans for years have built their campaign strategy around vilifying Madigan, who has been speaker for all but two years since 1983, but it hasn’t paid off in a big way at the ballot box. This year, however, the GOP hopes its anti-Madigan message will resonate in a new way after federal prosecutors in July alleged that Commonwealth Edison engaged in a “yearslong bribery scheme” designed to curry favor with the speaker.

But Madigan, who has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing, is only on the ballot in his Southwest Side district, and Democrats are hoping to capitalize on a changing suburban electorate’s dissatisfaction with the name at the top of the Republican ticket: President Donald Trump.

All 118 Illinois House seats and 22 of 59 state Senate seats are on the ballot this fall. But because 52 House and 11 Senate races are uncontested, a handful of competitive districts — largely in the suburbs — will determine whether Democrats lose or add to their veto-proof majorities in both chambers. Democrats hold supermajorities of 74-44 in the House and 40-19 in the Senate, meaning Republicans would need a historic number of victories to take control of either chamber.



Michael Madigan et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan walks out after a House Democratic caucus meeting on Nov. 12, 2019, at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.


© Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan walks out after a House Democratic caucus meeting on Nov. 12, 2019, at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

The Democrats not only control both chambers of the General Assembly and all statewide offices, but they also enjoy