Ohio House Speaker faces bribery charges, is removed from position

Cupp left and Butler right

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of OH, the "enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering".

By a unanimous vote, Larry Householder was removed as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives this morning, following his arrest last week on a federal racketeering charge related to the nuclear bailout law he pushed a year ago.

The unanimous 90-9 vote came with nine members, including Householder, absent, local news outlets reported.

In addition to Householder, 61, the feds also charged lobbyist Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley, who previously chaired the Ohio Republican Party; Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus, a longtime campaign and political strategist for Householder; lobbyist Neil Clark, 67, owner of Grant Street Consultants and former budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus; and lobbyist Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus.

Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who also didn't support Householder for speaker, says he's voting for speaker pro tem Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), who is term limited and couldn't be speaker when the new session starts in January. When opponents of the bailout then attempted to reverse the law through a referendum, the enterprise allegedly spent millions of dollars - paid through Generation Now but likely originating from FirstEnergy Solutions - buying advertisements, mailing flyers and bribing ballot collectors in order to stop the effort.

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Yet he didn't sufficiently dig into what jurors had read or heard about the case, the judges said. He's been serving his sentence in a high-security supermax prison in Colorado.

"I called for Larry Householder to resign on the day the U.S. Attorney's office revealed the details of the conspiracy that led to the passage of HB 6", state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, said in a news release.

The Republican-controlled House did not vote on whether to expel Householder from the legislature, WOSU reports, and he is running unopposed for reelection in the fall. Yost said Gov. Mike DeWine has the authority to call the House into session, which he has said he will do if necessary.

The fight for his replacement is already underway, however. Three more lawmakers - Reps. But it's unclear who will succeed him.

Soon after Thursday's vote, he was sworn in by Ohio Supreme Courtroom Justice Judi French. Bob Cupp to lead the Ohio House, replacing the speaker ousted hours earlier amid a scandal.

This article will be updated with more information as the story develops.

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