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Politics

Ohio House Votes To Expel Larry Householder

Republican Ohio state Rep. Larry Householder, sits at the head of a legislative session as Speaker of the House, in Columbus, Ohio in this Oct. 30, 2019, file photo.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
/
AP
Republican Ohio state Rep. Larry Householder, sits at the head of a legislative session as Speaker of the House, in Columbus, Ohio in this Oct. 30, 2019, file photo.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 6:15 PM

In a historic vote, the Ohio House has removed a former Speaker who was re-elected to his seat last fall, after he was arrested in what's considered the largest bribery case ever in Ohio government.

The House voted 75-21 to expel Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), just a few days after two of his fellow Republicans in surrounding districts introduced the bill to remove him.

All but one of those who voted against the explusion were Republicans, and many had supported Householder in his bitter fight to unseat former Speaker Ryan Smith in 2019.

Householder defended himself on the floor, as he did in a committee hearing the day before. He said he's innocent of the charges against him, and that members can't prove that he committed disorderly conduct.

“I have not, nor have I ever took a bribe or provided a bribe. I have not nor have I ever solicited a bribe. And I have not nor have I ever sold legislation, never, ever,” he said.

But Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville), one of the sponsors of the measure to remove him, argued on the floor.

"This is not a witch hunt...this is law enforcement. This is not cancel culture. This is consequences," he said.

The lone Democrat to oppose expulsion was Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst). He said in a statement that Householder should have been removed in his district. His statement continues: "If the petition process was not initiated, the political power struggle in the Republican caucus should have been dealt with by defeating Householder in a primary such that the people of the 72nd District are the arbitrators of this outcome."

Householder left the chamber immediately after the House removed him. He spoke to reporters outside, saying that he had no plans to go away but intended to speak out about issues that concern him.

"I can tell you this much. Fellow elected officials who didn't like Public Citizen Householder, are really not going to like Private Citizen Householder," he said.

Householder had no committee assignments. His successor as Speaker, Bob Cupp (R-Lima), had said last year that expulsion was a possibility. But while elected Republicans in Householder's district had sent letters to Cupp asking that Householder be expelled, and there was a caucus meeting about Householder's future in March, there had been no move to kick out Householder till this proposal.

Householder still faces trial in a $61 million bribery scheme. Federal prosecutors say FirstEnergy funneled millions of dollars to a 501(c)4 which was controlled by Householder. According to the charges, Householder used that money for personal and political gain, and then pushed for passage of HB6, a nuclear bailout bill.

Two people accused in that case, lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Householder strategist Jeff Longstreth, have pleaded guilty. The 501(c)4, Generation Now, has also accepted a plea deal. Lobbyist Neil Clark was also facing charges, but died by suicide in March. Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges have both maintained their innocence.

Not long after the expulsion, Ryan Smith, the former speaker Householder ousted in a bitter battle in 2019, shared a one-word tweet.

The only Ohio state rep to be expelled was John Slough, a Democrat of Hamilton County, who punched Republican Darius Cadwell of Ashtabula County on the House floor in January 1857. He went on to fight in the Civil War, and ended up as chief justice of the New Mexico Territory. He was assassinated by a member of that territorial legislature 10 years after being expelled from the Ohio legislature.