Although indicted in a criminal case and removed as speaker, state Rep. Larry Householder is still a member of the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee – the body that investigates and rules on ethics and lobbying matters for the Ohio General Assembly.
House Speaker Bob Cupp removed Householder as vice chairman of JLEC but state law prohibits removal of a member from the ethics panel. It was set up that way so that legislative leaders couldn’t easily remove JLEC members hostile to their interests and replace them with friendlier members.
A dozen lawmakers serve on JLEC – six from each chamber, divided evenly among Democrats and Republicans. Cupp, who was already a member on the panel, is the new vice chairman.
Householder was arrested July 21 by FBI agents and charged with racketeering. Former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, Householder’s political strategist Jeff Longstreth and lobbyists Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark were also charged and have pleaded not guilty.
Householder has yet to enter a plea and is trying to arrange legal counsel.
U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said Householder and the others participated in a bribery scheme that funneled nearly $61 million from an Akron-based utility company into Generation Now, a dark money group. The money was used to elect pro-Householder lawmakers who’d support him for House speaker and Householder in turn helped pass and defend a $1.3 billion bailout bill for the company, federal prosecutors said.
Lawmakers voted to strip Householder of his speaker role but did not vote to expel him from the Ohio House. They named Cupp, a former state supreme court justice, as the new speaker.
Cupp, R-Lima, accepted the resignations of Householder’s chief of staff Jonathan McGee and policy director Matt McAuliffe and he removed Householder’s top legislative leaders from the House Rules & Reference Committee and the Legislative Service Commission.
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, was added to Legislative Service Commission and Rules & Reference Committee. Antani is now running against Democrat Mark Fogel for a state senate seat currently held by Republican Peggy Lehner.