LFC Comments by Brian Massie: *****Just my Opinion*****
We do not know if Larry Householder is guilty of the allegations. However, we support the basic principle that all men and women are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty, and deserve their day in court. Allegations by the Fraudulent Bureau of Investigation is not proof of anything. Does that mean that anyone that took money from Householder or First Energy should be removed from office? Guilt by association is not a standard that we should accept in our society.
We would like to remind the State legislators of Matthew 7:5 – “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye!”
Larry Householder out: Ohio House votes to remove former speaker
COLUMBUS – Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Ohio House removed Rep. Larry Householder from the chamber, ousting the former leader in a 75-21 vote Wednesday.
After a brilliant political comeback to lead the Ohio House of Representatives, Householder leaves his beloved chamber under the cloud of a federal indictment for the second time.
Householder maintains his innocence: “They say the truth will set you free. I look forward to it.”
Householder’s now-former colleagues utilized a little-used provision in the Ohio Constitution that allows lawmakers to police their own for disorderly conduct. The last legislator removed in this way was Hamilton County Rep. John P. Slough in 1857 for punching another representative.
Even getting the resolution to the floor for a vote was a monumental effort that eked by with one vote. Ultimately, he was removed by 42 fellow Republicans and 33 Democrats. One Democrat, Rep. Joe Miller of Amherst, and 20 Republicans opposed the resolution.
The expulsion came after months of inaction and Householder steadfastly refusing to resign despite the pleas of top Republicans and Democrats.
“This has been going on long enough,” said Rep. Mark Fraizer, R-Newark. “It is time for this to come to a conclusion.”
Householder, 62, of Glenford, was arrested last July in connection with the state’s largest bribery scheme. Householder is accused of orchestrating a nearly $61 million operation to win control of the Ohio House, pass a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear plants in northern Ohio and defend that law against a ballot initiative to block it.
Householder has pleaded not guilty to the offense. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
In a nearly two-hour hearing Tuesday, Householder fought for his political life, repeatedly asserting his innocence without going into details on the federal case against him. He repeated those assertions on the House floor.
“I am not nor have I ever took a bribe or provided a bribe,” Householder said Wednesday. “I have not nor have I ever sold legislation, never, ever.”
But Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, said the allegations against Householder – that legislation can be bought for a price in Ohio – are an embarrassment to the honor of Ohio House. He and Fraizer sponsored House Resolution 69 to remove Householder.
“No one can believe he’s still here. Being here is a privilege, not a right,” Stewart said. “The real conservatives I know don’t stand for corruption.”
Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, voted to remove Householder from office.
“For me, the deciding factor was the unethical conduct reached such a level that a federal grand jury found that there was probable cause that it was a crime,” Cupp said. “It seems to me that clearly meets the definition in the Ohio Constitution of disorderly conduct.”
Householder’s expulsion lasts for the remainder of the two-year legislative session; he could run again. But Cupp said he doesn’t think Householder can appeal the House’s resolution.
“The law is pretty clear that this is really the final decision here,” Cupp said. House Republicans will choose Householder’s replacement.
A House divided by Larry Householder
Householder’s presence fractured an already divided House. Democrats blamed Republicans for protecting one of their own for months despite a damning indictment. Republicans were quick to point out that Householder would have never been elected speaker without the minority party’s support.
Lawmakers unanimously removed Householder as their leader shortly after his arrest, but the Republican legislator has refused to resign from his seat, which represents Perry, Coshocton and Licking counties.
Householder and his allies, most vocally Green Township Rep. Bill Seitz, argued that Householder should remain in office while the case against him is prosecuted.
“There is no evidence against Larry Householder, only allegations,” Seitz said. “Serious allegations to be sure.”
Householder was reelected last fall with 71% of the vote, a fact that Householder says demonstrates a vote of confidence in his representation.
“We do not get to choose who represents someone else’s district,” said Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, before comparing Ohio to communist countries. “We’re going to kick someone out of a duly elected office because they are accused, suspected of doing something.”
However, Householder’s name was the only one listed on the ballot because his arrest came after the filing deadline. Several write-in candidates had little support and little chance of winning.
After months of waiting, Ohio lawmakers ultimately decided to expel one of their own.
“Make no mistake, there is no joy in seeing a former Ohio speaker removed from office in disgrace, but this is our opportunity to stand against corruption and to turn a page on this dark chapter in Ohio history and begin to rebuild the People’s trust in a government that’s supposed to work for them,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron. She encouraged lawmakers to start over on House Bill 6 at the heart of the federal investigation.
For Parma Rep. Jeff Crossman, who brought the Democratic resolution to remove Householder with Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, Householder’s conduct met and exceeded the constitutional threshold for expulsion
“Ohioans know what is right and what is wrong,” Crossman said. “They expect us to be able to tell the difference as well.”
Jessie Balmert, Anna Staver and Laura Bischoff are reporters for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.