COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers got into a tense confrontation at an upscale Columbus restaurant two weeks ago over the now-historic vote to expel Larry Householder from the Ohio House.
Rep. Bill Seitz, of Cincinnati, confronted Rep. Jon Cross, of Kenton, at Lindey’s — a restaurant often frequented by lawmakers and lobbyists — a week before the June 16 vote to oust Householder, The Toledo Blade reported Tuesday.
The two lawmakers were dining separately June 9. The Blade reported Seitz, who holds a leadership position in the House, approached Cross as they were both leaving and began to argue about Cross’ plan to vote yes on the expulsion resolution.
Cross confirmed the altercation happened when The Blade contacted him Tuesday. It remains unclear if the encounter between the two men was physical or strictly verbal. A formal complaint was made to Speaker Bob Cupp’s office regarding the incident.
Seitz told the paper he did not act in a threatening manner toward his fellow lawmaker.
“We had a sharp exchange of words, and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” he said. “In a family, you sometimes have disagreements, and we had a disagreement. Mr. Cross and I ended the conversation in about one minute.”
Seitz has been among the few GOP members to continue publicly supporting now-former Rep. Larry Householder since a federal affidavit released in July 2020 charged the then-Speaker of the House with federal racketeering. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio at the time called it the largest bribery scandal in state history.
Householder has pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence — even defending himself in front of his colleagues on the House floor last Wednesday — moments before lawmakers cast a 75-21 vote to remove a sitting member from the chamber for the first time in nearly 150 years.
The June 9 altercation is the second time in weeks that Rep. Seitz has been accused of being combative with his colleagues. Rep. Emilia Sykes, the chamber’s highest-ranking Democrat, said the veteran lawmaker “verbally attacked” her during a recent hearing on a controversial voting reform bill he is sponsoring.