Former Republican spokesman Larry Householder speaks to reporters after his expulsion from Ohio House on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. The Republican-led House of Representatives voted 75-21 for his removal. Andrew Welsh-Huggins / AP Hide caption
Andrew Welsh-Huggins / AP
Andrew Welsh-Huggins / AP
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Members of the Ohio House expelled Rep. Larry Householder, the federally indicted Republican ex-spokesman, on Wednesday in a bipartisan vote invoking their powers to remove a member for the first time in 150 years.
The GOP-controlled house voted 75-21 for the removal of Perry County’s Householder and passed a resolution stating that the indictment made him unfit for office. The state constitution allows expulsion for “disorderly behavior” without defining it.
Defiant to the end, Householder reiterated his innocence in a speech in plenary before the vote and again predicted that he would be acquitted of the allegations he had orchestrated a $ 60 million bribery program intends to pass a law to support two nuclear power plants and then end a vote that seeks to overturn the law.
“I have never taken or requested a bribe or asked to take a bribe,” said Householder.
After the vote, Speaker Bob Cupp briefly interrupted the House meeting while Householder left without incident, followed by reporters.
Householder said he would return to his south Ohio farm on Wednesday to help his wife plant tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and corn. In the longer term, he wants to speak out against elected officials who, in his opinion – unlike him – have actually acted unconstitutionally.
“I can tell you that much,” Householder told reporters. “Co-elected officials who didn’t like the public budget will really not like the private household.”
The entire House voted after the Republican legislature pushed the move instead of waiting for the expulsion resolution to work through the committee process.
Rep. Brian Stewart and Mark Fraizer, both Republicans who represent districts bordering Householder, encouraged their colleagues to “do the right thing” and remove Householder from his seat.
“If extortion, bribery and money laundering are not illegal conduct, frankly it cannot,” said Stewart.
A federal indictment causes lawmakers to vote for the exclusion of householder
Calling the indictment a flaw in the institution, Fraizer said, “It is time we came together as a body.” Among other Republicans who voted to expel their fellow GOP, eight of the 13 remaining members Householder had recruited to help him gain the spokesperson and the Cupp.
Cupp said the federal grand jury indictment was the determining factor for him. “It seems to me that this is clearly the definition of disorderly behavior in the Ohio Constitution,” he said.
Householder and four employees were arrested in July in an investigation related to the Nuclear Bailout Act, House Bill 6, which included a $ 1 billion installment-funded bailout that added a new fee to every electric bill in the state and channeled over $ 150 million annually to plants near Cleveland and Toledo through 2026.
Households face up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted.
Prior to voting on expulsion, Cincinnati MP Bill Seitz argued unsuccessfully that an unproven criminal charge was not the act implied by misconduct. The correct approach would be impeachment or waiting for the outcome of the criminal proceedings, he said.
“What else are they going to bring in and say it’s disorderly behavior?” said Seitz.
State Representative Emilia Sykes, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives who has been calling on lawmakers to expel householders for over a year, said the disgraced legislature had “no choice but to act” in the Chamber.
Make no mistake, it is no joy to see a former Ohio spokesman being disgraced from office, but this is our opportunity to stand up against corruption and open this dark chapter in Ohio history and with it to start rebuilding the people’s trust in a government to work for them, “Sykes said in a statement.
“Justice, decency and common sense gave a standing ovation to today’s vote to expel Mr. Householder from the People’s House,” tweeted Republican Attorney General Dave Yost shortly after the vote.
Householder calls his removal “absurd” only because of allegations
The day before his colleagues voted him out, Householder appeared before a committee in which he testified for hours why it would be wrong to remove him from office.
“Just think of the precedent this will create: allegations are enough to remove anyone from office,” Householder testified on Tuesday. “That’s absurd.”
Two of Householder’s co-defendants and an involved nonprofit have pleaded guilty to the case. FirstEnergy, the energy company at the center of the latest scandal, has confirmed in court records that the majority of payments were made under the alleged bribery program.
The last time the Ohio House expelled a sitting lawmaker was in 1857, when John P. Slough was ousted for beating another lawmaker.
On Tuesday, Householder compared bipartisan efforts to oust him with attempts by Congressman Adam Schiff and House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi to indict former President Donald Trump earlier this year. “This is clearly politically motivated and I think everyone in this room knows that,” he said.
In 2004, Householder left for the first time on tenure restrictions, while he and several top advisors were under state investigations into alleged money laundering and irregular campaigning practices. The government later closed the case without charge.
Householder eventually returned to the chamber and was re-elected spokesman in 2019 after an angry fight.
The man he hit for the job, former Republican spokesman Ryan Smith, had claimed Householder and his allies intimidated Smith’s supporters during two public speaking bouts that Householder was either involved in or running.
On Wednesday, Smith simply tweeted “KARMA!”