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Remembering Neil Clark, Controversial Powerbroker

In this May 27, 2004 file photo Paul Tipps, left, and Neil Clark, pose in their office in Columbus, Ohio. Clark, a longtime Ohio lobbyist, who had pleaded not guilty in a sweeping federal bribery investigation, was found dead, Monday, March 15, 2021.
Jay LaPrete
/
Associated Press
In this May 27, 2004 file photo Paul Tipps, left, and Neil Clark, pose in their office in Columbus, Ohio. Clark, a longtime Ohio lobbyist, who had pleaded not guilty in a sweeping federal bribery investigation, was found dead, Monday, March 15, 2021.

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the political legacy of Neil Clark, a powerful lobbyist and a defendant in the $60 million nuclear plant bribery case, who was found dead this week in Florida. 

Dayton Daily News Statehouse investigative reporter Laura Bischoff joins the show.

Listen to Snollygoster on the WOSU Public Media mobile app, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And make sure to leave a rating and review!

In this week's episode: 

Ohio’s 34th Senator

Although he was never elected to public office, Neil Clark was one of the most powerful people at the Ohio Statehouse. He started his career as a top Republican aide who knew the state budget inside and out. Later, he formed one of the largest lobbying firms in Ohio.

He had huge, big-name clients and political allies, one of whom was state Rep. Larry Housholder. The two worked on getting Householder elected House Speaker, and then fought to pass the now-infamous $1 billion nuclear power plant bailout. That led to both men's indictment by federal prosecutors in a nearly $61 million bribery scheme.

This week, Clark was found dead near his home in Florida. Authorities say a handgun was found nearby. Clark's cause of death is still unconfirmed, although Cleveland.com reports that investigators are treating it as an apparent suicide.

Snollygoster Of The Week: Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp

For eight months now, the Ohio House of Representatives have had a member who was indicted on bribery charges. Larry Householder was removed as Speaker but kept his seat, winning re-election in November.

State Rep. Bob Cupp is Householder’s successor as Speaker, and has been reluctant to hold a vote on whether to expel Householder completely.

Cupp has often cited House bylaws when defending his decision not to hold a vote, but the truth may be that he just doesn't have enough Republican votes to remove Householder from office. And Householder says he won't resign from the legislature even as he awaits trial.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and son. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.
Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.