COLUMBUS, Ohio — A longtime Ohio lobbyist who had pleaded not guilty in a sweeping federal bribery investigation died Tuesday, a former U.S. attorney said.
Neil Clark had pleaded not guilty in August over an alleged role in a $60 million scheme to funnel money from FirstEnergy companies through a network of dark money entities to then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder in exchange for the passage of a $1 billion nuclear bailout bill.
Former U.S. Attorney David DeVillers mentioned Clark’s death during a presentation to the board of the Office of Ohio Consumer’s Counsel, in which he was discussing the probe.
Messages seeking details were left at Clark’s home and with his firm, Grant Street Consultants, and lawyer.
Clark had been described by federal prosecutors as the enforcer for Householder, strong-arming supporters and providing fundraising expertise.
Before becoming a lobbyist, Clark was the finance director for the Ohio Senate Republicans, gaining inside experience in state budget-making with which he was able to help his many lobbying clients.
Clark parlayed his Senate work initially into a powerhouse bipartisan lobbying partnership with the late Paul Tipps, a former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. The two ultimately had a nasty falling-out, and Clark founded his own firm.
Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press