Coal Giant Murray Energy Had Affiliation with Individuals Connected to Ohio Coal and Nuclear Bailout Legislation Bribery Scheme

A newly surfaced document reveals an affiliation between coal giant Murray Energy and two individuals connected in a $60 million bribery and racketeering scheme. Documented is the first to report Murray Energy’s previous relationship with individuals connected in the case.

Jeffrey Longstreth, a longtime political aide to former Ohio State House Speaker Larry Householder, and Kentucky attorney Eric Lycan, who are both connected to the scandal, attended a 2015 conference of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) as guests of Murray Energy. Their names were included on an attendee list prepared by RGA in advance of the conference. Documented obtained the list from a state public records request. 

Longstreth was listed in the document as a “Guest of Murray Energy, JPL & Associates.” 

Lycan’s name appeared twice in the document, once listed as a “Guest of Murray Energy, Dinsmore” and again as “Eric Lycan, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Lexington KY.” 

Longstreth and three state lobbyists were indicted on racketeering charges in July related to a pay-to-play scheme to pass Ohio House Bill 6, legislation that bailed out struggling coal and nuclear plants in the state. 

E&E News previously reported that Murray Energy benefited from the legislation:

After lobbying to convince lawmakers to subsidize its Ohio nuclear plants because they produce most of the state’s zero-carbon energy, Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions said on Friday that an energy law enacted last week would also enable the company to keep 1,490 megawatts of coal-fired generation running at its W.H. Sammis plant near Stratton. The law, known as H.B. 6, will funnel subsidies to power plant owners (Energywire, July 24).

In a release, FES said that the decision was “driven by the efforts to improve the operational reliability of Sammis which allows us to preserve jobs and ensure the economic health of the plant.”

Murray Energy Corp., of which Murray is CEO, supplied all the coal shipped to the Sammis plant in the past year, according to federal data. The coal company has also worked for at least five years with FirstEnergy Solutions to keep the plant running.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Columbus Dispatch previously reported that Murray Energy contributed $100,000 to the 501(c)(4) group Hardworking Ohioans and is identified as “Company B” in the federal bribery case

Murray Energy filed for bankruptcy in October 2019. Amid revelations of the scandal, environmental groups and coal producer Consol Energy Inc. are seeking disclosure from a bankruptcy court judge of possible connections between Murray Energy and the scheme. Murray Energy and Robert Murray have not been charged.

Householder aide Longstreth is named in the criminal complaint for allegedly accepting more than $5 million from the monopoly utility FirstEnergy Corp. in exchange for his efforts on behalf of House Bill 6. FirstEnergy benefited from the legislation, and the criminal complaint alleges that FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries provided nearly $60 million to fund the entire operation through the 501(c)(4) organization Generation Now.

Generation Now is run by Longstreth and his firm political consulting firm JPL & Associates and has been indicted.

A federal affidavit identified Kentucky Attorney Eric Lycan as the “treasurer” of Generation Now. Lycan, who has not been charged, is also referred to in the federal affidavit as the treasurer to a “PAC” and “Coalition” connected to the case, which have been identified as the Growth & Opportunity PAC and Coalition for Growth & Opportunity respectively. 

Lycan served as a partner to the law firm Dinsmore & Shohl between March 2015 through to April 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. The firm’s office in Cincinnati, Ohio, is acting as local counsel in the bankruptcy case for Murray Energy. According to business filings from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, Dinsmore’s office in Columbus, Ohio, is the listed agent for Generation Now. One day after the bribery case revelations were made public, Dinsmore filed agent resignation paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. 

Lycan is currently an attorney with Lexington, Kentucky, firm Embry Merritt Shaffar Womack, PLLC. A previous version of his biography on the law firm’s website listed membership with the Kentucky Coal Association and roles he had with the Republican Party of Kentucky Executive Committee and the Republican National Lawyers Association. Lycan has numerous ties to the GOP and served as counsel for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election effort in 2014. 

Murray Energy, Eric Lycan, Jeff Longstreth, and the Republican Governors Association did not respond to a request for comment.

Image of power plant by Wikimedia user, used under Creative Commons license.

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