Former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder

The Boich Companies filed Ohio forms claiming they conducted no lobbying from 2017 through 2019, even though court records show their officials were intimately involved in the passage of HB 6, the law requiring state ratepayers to bail out two coal-fired power plants.

Boich’s lobbying reports are another facet of the company’s stealth campaign to elect allies of now-imprisoned former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and create a favorable environment to limit utility regulation and pass HB 6, which allowed Resource Fuels to continue being overpaid for coal.

Boich owns coal company Resource Fuels, which supplied coal to a power plant subsidized by Ohio ratepayers because of HB 6. Federal energy records show Resource Fuels has been paid a premium for its coal, even though it came from the same mine as the coal provided by another supplier to the Clifty Creek power plant owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corp.

Starting in 2017, Wayne and Cynthia Boich, the owners of Boich Companies, were among the first donors to Generation Now, the dark-money political fund used to bribe Householder, support Householder’s allies and pay for the campaign to pass HB 6.

Generation Now was created under chapter 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which allowed to maintain the secrecy of its donors. That meant the donations to Generation Now were not disclosed to the public.

Resource Fuels donated  $250,000 to Generation Now on April 5, 2018, one month before the Ohio primary election. Householder used the money in the Generation Now account to back candidates in Republican state House primaries who would later support his campaign to become House speaker after the 2018 general election. Householder, however, spent more than $500,000 of the money to pay off credit card balances, repair his Florida home and settle a business lawsuit.

Wayne Boich also gave $100,000 to another dark-money fund called Hardworking Ohioans that was also used to back the pro-HB 6 campaign.

Matt Evans, Boich CEO, closely tied to Householder, HB 6

Matt Evans, the CEO of the Boich Companies, worked closely with executives from FirstEnergy and Householder to pass HB6 in 2019, according to the federal deferred prosecution agreement filed by FirstEnergy in 2021. But Boich’s lobbying reports for 2019 report no activity with Ohio’s legislative or executive branches, even though Michael Koren, who was listed as Boich’s lobbyist, was also FirstEnergy’s lobbyist in 2019; that company’s lobbying reports include their work to pass HB 6.

Former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones sent this photo-shopped image to allies after the passage of HB 6.

Chuck Jones, then FirstEnergy’s CEO, texted a photoshopped picture of Mount Rushmore that included Evans’ face superimposed on it with the caption that said, “HB 6 Fuck Anybody Who Aint Us.” That photo surfaced as part of the federal bribery case that led to the convictions and imprisonment of Householder and former Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges earlier this year.

The other faces on the altered Mount Rushmore were Jones, Michael Dowling of FirstEnergy, former PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo and Evans. Randazzo was indicted on federal corruption charges tied to HB 6 on Dec. 4.

The deferred prosecution agreement signed by FirstEnergy in 2021 lists five separate incidents in which Evans or other Boich Companies officials worked with Householder and his team to pass HB 6 and influence PUCO decisions and Randazzo.

Resource Fuels’ identity hidden by PUCO protective order

An audit into HB 6 conducted for PUCO by London Economics International indicated the OVEC had overpaid one of its coal suppliers, but the identity of the company was redacted because of a protective order granted in July. That meant the public could not learn the name of the company supplying coal to OVEC through the PUCO audit, even though the information was publicly available through reports filed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The connections of Resource Fuels to HB 6 have been revealed in bits and pieces over the last year. In March, Householder testified during his trial that he had never heard of Resource Fuels when he was asked about the company. In October, two independent analysts submitted testimony to PUCO that named Resource Fuels as the supplier of Clifty Creek’s overpriced coal.

Ray Locker is the executive director for Checks & Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.

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