COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nearly 20 people have applied to take over the Ohio House seat Larry Householder left vacant last week when he was expelled in a historic, bipartisan vote for his alleged involvement in a $60 million bribery scheme.
One of those applicants vying to take the helm is his own son.
Derek Householder submitted his resume Wednesday for the heavily Republican district his dad has represented for the past five years, according to application materials released by Ohio House Republicans.
The son of the disgraced former lawmaker is currently the commissioner for Perry County, which is included in the district, along with Coshocton and portions of Licking County, east of Columbus. Derek Householder won the commissioner’s race in November with help from donors connected to his father’s campaign. Prior to joining public office, he worked as a coal plant operator before he lost his job as part of a company-wide layoff in September 2019.
His father’s House seat is vacant after 75 Republicans and 21 Democrats cast a vote on June 16 to expel a member of the House for the first time in 150 years. With the vote, the GOP-controlled House approved a resolution that stated Larry Householder was not suited for office because of the indictment. The state Constitution allows expulsion for “disorderly conduct” without defining it.
Larry Householder reiterated his innocence in a House floor speech before the vote and predicted again he would be acquitted of charges that he orchestrated a $60 million bribery scheme meant to approve legislation propping up two nuclear power plants and then kill a ballot issue trying to overturn the law.
“I have not nor have I ever taken a bribe or solicited or been solicited for taking a bribe,” Householder said.
He and four associates were arrested in July in an investigation connected to the nuclear bailout legislation, House Bill 6, which contained a $1 billion ratepayer-funded rescue that would have added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.
The former lawmaker faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Derek Householder is expected to be interviewed by a three-member House GOP screening committee, Cleveland.com reported.
House Speaker Bob Cupp, who succeeded the lawmaker when he was removed from the dais last summer, told reporters Wednesday that the chamber is moving quickly to fill the seat in an effort to move on from what lawmakers have called a distraction.
The other applicants include a township trustee, a veteran who ran unsuccessfully against Larry Householder in 2018, a maintenance coordinator for Kraft Heinz and an Ohio University student.
Once the interviews are finished, the committee will recommend finalists to the House GOP caucus, which will decide the candidate to finish the year and a half remaining on Larry Householder’s term.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.