Butler County lawmakers, officials react to Ohio Speaker scandal; many say he should resign

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder leaves U.S. District Court in Columbus on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

caption arrowCaption
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder leaves U.S. District Court in Columbus on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Several Butler County politicians have called for Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to resign following his arrest in what federal investigators say is likely the largest bribery scheme in the state’s history.

Householder, former Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges and a pair of lobbyists are accused of a $60 million pay-to-play bribery scheme to pass and uphold a nuclear plant bailout. House Bill 6 was a fast-tracked bill that made several changes to Ohio’s energy law and provided to bailouts to Ohio Valley Electric Corp. and FirstEngery Solutions.

The bill was introduced in April 2019 and signed three months later by Gov. Mike DeWine.

ExploreWhat is House Bill 6, law tied to $60M bribery allegations?

Many have called for Householder’s resignation, including Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, who said that “it seems impossible that the speaker could continue to lead us through the most challenging time in all of Ohio history” given he was arrested on racketeering charges.

“It would be in the best interest of our citizens for him to step aside and allow the work of the House to continue while the investigation is ongoing,” Keller said. “Ohio has a host of issues that are of supreme importance to all of us. The COVID crisis, mass unemployment, violence in our streets, the heroin problem, homelessness, poverty. All of these things should be what takes our time and energy. Instead, this day was sadly about corruption in politics.”

Keller was the only Butler County lawmaker to vote against House Bill 6, and she said she has signed on as a legislative co-sponsor for an effort by Reps. Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario, and Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, to repeal the bill that took effect in October. Keller also voted against Householder in his bid for speaker.

Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., supported House Bill 6 but is a co-sponsor to the Romanchuk-Lanese repeal bill. In a text message, he said Householder should resign his speakership but not his House seat. He did not support Householder in his bid for speaker.

ExploreButler County officials react to Ohio Speaker’s arrest

Lang posted on Facebook: “The allegations against him (Householder) represent a stunning betrayal of his duty as an elected official, and he can no longer legitimately lead the Ohio House of Representatives. I did not vote for him for Speaker and believe that the people of Ohio deserve better. Our state is facing significant challenges, and he must step down so that we can effectively work on behalf of all Ohioans.”

Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, was the only Butler County representative to vote for Householder in his bid for House speaker and supported House Bill 6. She wouldn’t comment beyond saying she is “so shocked and stunned that I am still trying to process it all.”

Butler County’s two political party leaders also called for Householder to resign.

“Those involved, especially the House speaker, hold positions of trust. I do believe that Speaker Householder should resign his speakership, at the bare minimum, as this legal matter runs its course. He should consider resigning his legislative seat as well,” said Butler County GOP Chairman Todd Hall. “We have seen such scandals in both parties, and at many levels of government. While most political leaders I know are hardworking, honest people, these unfortunate breaches of trust continue to erode the public confidence in our political system.”

Butler County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Hester said if Householder refuses to resign, “the House should expel him.”

But he said Householder’s departure “doesn’t solve the problem.”

“One-party Republican rule in Ohio has rotted our system of government to the core,” Hester said. “We need to get rid of dark money in politics and get serious about having strong public ethics laws and strong enforcement of them.”

Explore$60 million bribe likely the largest scheme in Ohio, says U.S. attorney

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