Householder defense in racketeering trial previewed in fight over campaign finance experts

A fight over expert testimony in the felony racketeering trial of former Republican Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder offers a window into the ex-legislative leader’s defense strategy over his alleged role in the $1.3 billion First Energy bailout, political bribery scandal.

U.S. attorneys filed a response this week the U.S. Southern District of Ohio court pushing back against Householder’s objection to testimony on campaign finance and political spending from a law professor in California, as well as an Ohio State professor who specializes in energy policy. Prosecutors have also pushed back on a campaign finance attorney Householder disclosed he plans to call in his defense.

The two sides haggling over each other’s proposed campaign finance experts used mirrored arguments against each other, both alleging that the trial is about racketeering, not campaign finance, and that the dueling expert testimony would be duplicative.

Householder’s attorney wrote that the prosecutor’s campaign finance expert testimony should be limited as duplicative and unnecessary.

“Householder and the other defendants are not charged with violating campaign finance laws. They are charged with racketeering through bribery,” he wrote. “As a result, (the prosecution’s expert) testimony is irrelevant; it will not help the jury decide any fact of consequence.”

Prosecutors wrote that Householder’s campaign finance expert testimony should be…

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