Calls increase for Householder to resign amid scandal

By Todd DeFeo - The Center Square

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Courtesy Photo | Ohio House of Representatives

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Courtesy Photo | Ohio House of Representatives

COLUMBUS — The calls for Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to resign are increasing.

Authorities arrested Householder, R-Glenford, and four others Tuesday as part of a $60 million “public corruption racketeering conspiracy.”

Authorities allege Householder created an “enterprise” that received $60 million “from an energy company and its affiliates” – ostensibly Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions – to help pass House Bill 6 and defeat a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation. Opponents have called the bill a ratepayer-funded bailout of a pair of nuclear power plants in Ohio.

“Larry Householder sold out the people of Ohio in exchange for power and dirty money,” Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. “The 81-page sworn affidavit filed (on Tuesday) shows plainly he cannot be trusted to act in the public interest, or trusted with public authority,” Yost said.

“He is entitled to a presumption of innocence regarding the criminality of his acts, but he is entitled to no presumption of continuance in office,” Yost, a Republican, added. “He should resign immediately. If he refuses, the House should eject him under Article II, section 6 of the Ohio Constitution.”

A spokesperson for state House Republicans has not responded to requests for comment. Gov. Mike DeWine and House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, also called on Householder to step down.

“Ohioans have every right to expect the highest standards of ethical conduct from their elected leaders,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “Building greater trust between the people and their leaders is essential to our democracy. Given [Tuesday’s] arrest, I believe Speaker Householder should resign.”

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, also joined in the chorus.

“There is important work for the state legislature to do on behalf of the people of Ohio,” LaRose said on Twitter. “That work can’t get done with the Speaker under arrest in an ongoing federal investigation. [Householder], do the right thing for the people of our state and resign today.”

Meanwhile, The Buckeye Institute called on state lawmakers to repeal HB 6, which created a pair of funds to support nuclear energy plants and some solar power facilities in Ohio paid for by electricity consumers.

“Ohio House Bill 6 was an ugly corporate bailout from the beginning, and it hasn’t gotten any prettier,” The Buckeye Institute said in a statement. “The Buckeye Institute calls upon policymakers to rectify the previous error and take decisive action to move the state forward and far away from subsidizing crony companies while sticking ordinary Ohioans with higher energy bills.”

Investigators also charged Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley, a lobbyist and former Ohio Republican Party Chair; long-time Householder campaign strategist Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus; lobbyist Neil Clark, 67, of Columbus; and lobbyist Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus. It appears the investigation remains ongoing.

On Tuesday, FirstEnergy “received subpoenas in connection with the investigation surrounding Ohio House Bill 6,” the company said in a statement. “We are reviewing the details of the investigation and we intend to fully cooperate.”

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Courtesy Photo | Ohio House of Representatives House Speaker Larry Householder. Courtesy Photo | Ohio House of Representatives

By Todd DeFeo

The Center Square