Who would have thought that the Ohio House Speaker would lead for a call for a stadium name change for the Cleveland Browns?
Well, when Larry Householder was arrested on Tuesday, that’s exactly what happened.
A federal complaint was filed this past Thursday that accuses Householder of accepting roughly $60 million bribe in order to help FirstEnergy Corp. obtain a public bailout worth $1.3 billion.
BREAKING: Federal officials have arrested Republican House Speaker in Ohio Larry Householder in connection with a $60 million bribery case. Fmr OH GOP Chairman Matt Borges was also arrested with a GOP advisor and two lobbyists.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) July 21, 2020
Larry became House Speaker for Ohio in 2001 and served in that position until 2004.
He was re-elected to the same position in 2019.
Householder, along with four others, are involved with this latest scandal.
The four other names are chief political aide Jeff Longstreth along with lobbyists Neil Clark, Juan Cespedes, and Matt Borges.
All five men are being charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, David DeVillers, is working the case.
During a news conference, DeVillers stated this is “likely the largest bribery, money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people in the state of Ohio”.
DeVillers also claims that over half a million dollars was taken by Householder and used for his own benefit.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who usually now holds his COVID-19 update news briefings on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, canceled Tuesday’s briefing because of this.
A scandal like this does much more than just cast FirstEnergy Corp. in a bad light.
Big-time incidents like this can completely destroy a company’s reputation, so much so that other companies will disassociate from them.
One of those organizations might very well be the Cleveland Browns.
Time to rename FirstEnergy Stadium too.
The @Browns shouldn’t be in the company of racketeering and criminals.
— Chris Creamer (@CCXIII) July 21, 2020
New Stadium Name?
Of course, the Browns stadium currently holds the name “FirstEnergy Stadium”.
The Akron-based company bought the naming rights to the stadium back in January of 2013 and held them ever since.
Ironically enough, Cleveland Public Power supplies energy to the facility.
Again, a scandal like this typically brings major change.
In 2020, however, that change becomes almost inevitable with things like this.
Another team in town, the Cleveland Indians, are in the middle of a nickname-change debate to detach themselves with racist connotations associated with the current name.
Opinions have certainly been split, but there is clear support for a name change.
It’s hard to see the people of northeast Ohio getting upset over a stadium-name change, especially in the context of a multi-million dollar scandal.
The humorous aspect to all of this came in the news conference on Tuesday.
Apparently, the federal complaint never actually names FirstEnergy Corp. or FirstEnergy Solutions.
Rather, it “names” them as “Company A”.
However, the complaint is described to be pretty apparent that it implies “Company A” is FirstEnergy Corp.
Once that became public knowledge, the jokes began to fly.
BREAKING: The #Browns stadium has been renamed. It's now known as "Company A Stadium."
— Vince Guerrieri (@vinceguerrieri) July 21, 2020
Looking forward to watching the Browns at “Company A Stadium” after today’s Ohio Statehouse scandal
— Lana Del Gay 🏳️🌈👻✨ (@McClellandShane) July 21, 2020
Company A Stadium https://t.co/4VmvdWRxXm
— Green New Deal Compost Enforcement Unit (@peterpattakos) July 21, 2020
What happens beyond here is still uncertain. For now, a preliminary hearing is slated for Householder and friends on August 3rd.
As for the Browns, changing the name of their stadium may be inevitable.
Fighting to try and keep the FirstEnergy name seems like it will do more harm than good, and the Haslam’s don’t need any more negative publicity thrown their direction.