‘I feel betrayed’: Northeast Ohio lawmaker, sponsor of HB6 claims he knew nothing of corrupt plan

Representative Jamie Callender said he sponsored House Bill 6 to save jobs in Lake County.
Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 4:02 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -When Ohio Rep. Jamie Callender (R) decided to run for office again in 2018 he said it was to save jobs at the failing Perry Nuclear Power Plant, and not to become a member of “Team Householder,” as described by a federal affidavit that is rocking Ohio politics.

“This was an important thing for my district,” Callender said by phone today. “Regardless of who was speaker I would have sponsored the bill.”

An 81 page affidavit spells out exactly how the alleged bribery and corruption scam worked.

More than $60 million was put into a fund called Generation Now, allegedly by FirstEnergy with the goal of getting House Bill 6 (HB6) passed, which is legislation described as a billion dollar bailout of nuclear power plants.

Getting that accomplished is much easier as Speaker of the House.

To do that, Householder and his team (four of which have been indicted) needed people to get elected who would join “Team Householder.”

To do that, they allegedly helped 21 people run for office in 2017 and 2018.

Most of them won, then all of them voted for Householder for Speaker.

The next step, according to court filings, was to complete the agreement with FirstEnergy and get HB6 passed.

“Freshman Representatives, Representatives 3 and 4, who were elected in November 2018, sponsored HB6. Both were ‘Householder’ candidates and Generation Now spent money sponsoring both by paying for advertising, campaign strategy and staffing,” the affidavit reads.

Who sponsored HB6, a major piece of sweeping energy legislation with a billion dollars at stake?

Freshman lawmakers Rep. Jamie Callender (R) and Rep. Shane Wilkin (R).

Callender served in the Ohio house from 1996-2004, and after a 15 year absence thought about running again.

By phone, Callander said he wanted to run again to help Lake County keep the Perry Nuclear Plant jobs.

He said he did so after a conversation with Householder and other house members.

When I asked if it was Householder who called him and asked him to run, or the other way around, Callender said he didn’t remember.

Callender won election in November of 2018, took office Jan. 1, 2019 and was quickly named to the powerful Finance committee and chair of the Public Utilities committee.

Appointments were made by Householder.

HB6, a multi-million dollar piece of legislation, was introduced just four months after Callender was back in office.

He was the sponsor.

He denies allegations in the affidavit that his election staff was paid for with dirty money, but does remember the advertising on on his behalf.

Even with the cloud of suspicion now hanging over HB6, and house democrats calling for its repeal, Callender said he stands by the legislation.

When asked about FirstEnergy possibly putting up $60 million to get the law passed, Callender defended the bill.

“If the allegations in the affidavit are true, I feel a very good bill is being slandered by the acts of some bad people. And I personally feel betrayed,” he said.

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