Ex-GOP party chair denies wrongdoing in $60M bribery probe

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party charged in a $60 million federal bribery scheme has denied wrongdoing.

Lobbyist Matt Borges, who served as party chair from 2013 to 2017, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of racketeering following a July indictment.

The government accused Borges and four others of shepherding $60 million in energy company money for personal and political use in exchange for passing the bailout of two aging nuclear plants and then derailing an attempt to place a rejection of the bailout on the ballot.

“I did not break the law,” Borges told The Cincinnati Enquirer for a story Monday. “I did not conspire to break the law. I did not intend to break the law. I was not aware of anyone else breaking the law if it was happening.”

Borges’ attorney asked a Franklin County judge Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost that seeks to stop money from being collected from nearly all Ohio electric ratepayers beginning in January to pay for the nuclear plant subsidies.

Yost’s lawsuit also wants the criminal defendants banned from lobbying or participating in campaigns.

Two of the five defendants, Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth, pleaded guilty last month.

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