COLUMBUS (AP) — The Ohio House ousted its Republican speaker as the chamber’s top leader in a historic, unanimous and bipartisan vote Thursday after his arrest in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme.
Rep. Larry Householder is the first Ohio House speaker ever removed by the chamber, according to the Ohio History Connection. For now, he still retains his seat in the GOP-led Legislature.
Remaining members of Householder’s leadership team had said he deserves the presumption of innocence but “lost the trust of his colleagues and the public” and couldn’t effectively lead the House.
Householder, of Glenford, and four associates were identified in a July 21 federal affidavit as allegedly taking part in a pay-to-play scheme involving corporate money secretly funneled to them for personal and political use in exchange for helping to pass House Bill 6 to financially bail out two FirstEnergy nuclear plants. Householder was one of the driving forces behind the legislation, which included a fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.
Householder had ignored calls for his resignation from colleagues in both parties. He and his attorney also ignored or declined requests for comment about the allegations and about his plans.
A decision on when to schedule a vote to choose a new speaker will be made by Assistant Majority Floor Leader Anthony DeVitis, of Green. Potential candidates for the job include Householder’s No. 2, Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Jim Butler, and Rep. Bob Cupp, a former Ohio Supreme Court justice.
Householder is the second speaker to be under criminal investigation by the FBI in recent years. Former speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned abruptly in April 2018 after saying he was aware federal agents were asking questions about his activities and had protectively hired a criminal defense attorney.
Rosenberger wasn’t charged, and a lawyer for him has said the former lawmaker did nothing wrong.