CINCINNATI — Before the judge canceled court on Tuesday in the federal corruption trial of Larry Householder and Matt Borges, prosecutors spent the past few weeks showing evidence to the jury to back up its case against the former Ohio House Speaker and former state GOP chair.
While the defense has yet to present its case, Householder's attorneys sent a subpoena to an unlikely source to testify on his behalf: the president of the Ohio AFL-CIO.
Shortly after the trial had started in January, Householder's defense team sent labor leader, Tim Burga, a subpoena to testify. Burga's lawyer filed back, asking that it be quashed on the grounds that Burga couldn't provide any testimony in Householder's favor and that the defense never said exactly what they wanted him to testify about.
“Because they weren’t given any professional courtesy or any kinds of heads up about what he would be expected to testify about. The only thing in his mind that he could offer is his support of HB6 and that it would save a number of jobs,” said Rory Riley-Topping, Spectrum News legal analyst.
Judge Timothy Black ruled in pre-trial hearings that any testimony around whether HB 6 was beneficial or not was irrelevant and wouldn't be allowed. Burga's attorneys cite that in their motion to quash.
In response, Householder's team said Burga's testimony would be relevant. His attorneys want to show that other entities besides first energy donated and received money from Generation Now.
“We found through our investigation that several unions gave a total of $840,000 to Generation Now in 2018 and 2019 and those unions appear to be members of AFL-CIO,” said Kathiann Kowalski, Energy News Network & Eye on Ohio journalist.
Kowalski has been covering the trial since the beginning. She says Householder’s attorneys believes Burga’s testimony would help show that Generation Now was not the nefarious dark money group the government has made it out to be.
“If it turns out that the unions knew that there was a connection between Generation Now in supporting Larry Householder and Team Householder candidates, then that would, in their view, undercut the government’s claim that this was all done secretly,” said Kowalski.
Riley-Topping makes it clear that contributing large amounts of money to a political campaign isn’t illegal. But there’s a blurry line that was crossed with Generation Now.
“There’s all sorts of nuance that I think needs to be figured out and I think that this trial will hopefully establish what some of those boundaries are,” she said.
Burga has until Wednesday to respond to Householder’s attorney.