Ex-Ohio GOP chair denies wrongdoing in bribery probe

Published 1:01 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party who is charged in a $60 million federal bribery scheme has denied wrongdoing in an interview and is asking for dismissal of a lawsuit to stop collection of money to pay for related subsidies.

“I did not break the law,” lobbyist Matt Borges, who served as party chair from 2013 to 2017, told The Cincinnati Enquirer for a story Monday. “I did not conspire to break the law. I did not intend to break the law. I was not aware of anyone else breaking the law if it was happening.”

Borges pleaded not guilty in August to a charge of racketeering following a July indictment.

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The government accused Borges and four others of shepherding $60 million in energy company money for personal and political use in exchange for passing the bailout of two aging nuclear plants and then derailing an attempt to place a rejection of the bailout on the ballot.

Borges’ attorney asked a Franklin County judge Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost that seeks to stop money from being collected from nearly all Ohio electric ratepayers beginning in January to pay for the nuclear plant subsidies.

Yost’s lawsuit also wants the criminal defendants banned from lobbying or participating in campaigns.

Two of the five defendants, Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth, pleaded guilty last month.