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Politics

Householder Fights Measure To Expel Him From Ohio House

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former House Speaker, testifies against resolution to expel him from Ohio House.
Andy Chow
/
Ohio Public Radio
Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former House Speaker, testifies against resolution to expel him from Ohio House.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder continues to say he will not resign. Householder lost the speaker's gavel last year over a federal indictment accusing him of leading a $60 million bribery scheme, but he's pleaded not guilty. In a hearing Tuesday, Houserholder repeated that he will not leave the House willingly.

The Ohio Constitution allows members of the Ohio House have the ability to remove a fellow member if that person has engaged in disorderly conduct. Lawmakers are considering two proposals to expel Householder from the House.

Householder said supporters of expulsion have failed to define "disorderly conduct." 

"I'm absolutely not guilty and at the end of the day it's going to be found that I'm not and that's fine. But the question before the committee is, this resolution, whether it's going to move forward or not," Householder said to the House Rules and Reference Committee on Tuesday. 

Householder was Speaker of the Ohio House when he was arrested in July 2020. He faces a charge of racketeering for his alleged role in a $61 million bribery scheme. Federal prosecutors say FirstEnergy funneled millions of dollars to a 501(c)4 which was controlled by Householder. He then, according to the charges, used that money for personal and political gain. In return, federal prosecutors allgege Householder pushed for passage of HB6, a nuclear bailout bill.

Supporters of expulsion said the charge of bribery against Householder during his time as House Speaker are enough to kick him out.

Some members of the committee asked Householder about his involvement in the legislative process around HB6, including Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) and Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). Householder, who was accompanied by attorneys at the committee, said he's under federal order not to talk about the specifics of the court case and declined to comment.

Householder, who ran unopposed in November, said removing him would "subvert" the will of the voters. 

"What gives you the right to circumvent their vote and decide who's going to represent them? They've made their choice," he said.

The last time a member of the Ohio House was expelled was 1857 after Rep. John Slough, a Democrat, punched Rep. Darius Cadwell, a Republican, on the House floor. Householder used this case as an example matching the definition of "disorderly conduct" in criminal code. However, supporters of expulsion counter that the term in the Ohio Constitution is not defined.

Some members on the committee asked Householder why he does not resign. He said he does not need to step down because he's not guilty.

"I can tell you one thing, that's not what we do in Perry County and that's sure not what the Householder family does. And I'm never, ever going to do it. Not going to go down that route. Not when I tell my kids constantly to stand up for what they believe in and don't ever back down," Householder said.

Republicans and Democrats are working on a motion for expulsion that could come up during the next voting session on Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.