United StatesOhio

House strips Householder of speakership

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder leaves the Federal Courthouse after he was arrested in a $60 million federal bribery probe Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.

(The Center Square) – The state House voted unanimously Thursday to remove House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, from his leadership post.

The 90-0 vote came the same day the feds announced a grand jury indicted Householder and four others as part of a $60 million federal racketeering conspiracy to pass and uphold House Bill 6, a ratepayer-funded bailout of nuclear plants in Ohio.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, the “enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering.”

According to a statement from Republican House leaders: “Today’s strong bipartisan vote to remove Larry Householder as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives is not a decision any member of the House took lightly, but it was clear that Mr. Householder is unable to effectively lead the House.”

Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Butler, R-Oakwood; Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati; Assistant Majority Floor Leader Anthony DeVitis, R-Green; Majority Whip Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville; and Assistant Majority Whip Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, signed the statement.

“This is an opportunity to move the House forward and continue our work to move Ohio forward,” they added. “It is our hope that the Ohio House will soon elect a new Speaker to lead this institution.”

A vote to replace Householder has not been announced.

“The criminal allegations detailed last week and the indictment handed down today made it clear that Larry Householder could no longer serve as speaker of the People’s House,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said in a statement.

“His removal is the first step toward restoring public trust, which for the second time in three years has been eroded by Republican leadership that sees itself as above the law,” Sykes added. “It is my hope that the Republican Supermajority moves quickly to choose their next leader so Ohioans can have a functioning legislature.”

Lawmakers and Gov. Mike DeWine have called for the repeal of HB 6. Meanwhile, federal authorities say their investigation continues.

In addition to Householder, 61, the feds also charged lobbyist Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley, who previously chaired the Ohio Republican Party; Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus, a longtime campaign and political strategist for Householder; lobbyist Neil Clark, 67, owner of Grant Street Consultants and former budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus; and lobbyist Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus.

They also charged Generation Now, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.

“Dark money is a breeding ground for corruption,” U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said in a statement. “This investigation continues.”

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