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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Householder Fights Effort To Remove Him From Office

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former speaker of the Ohio House, testifies against resolution to expel him from the Statehouse. [Andy Chow / Statehouse News Bureau]
Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former House Speaker, testifies against resolution to expel him from Ohio House.

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) argued before a House panel Tuesday that he should remain a member of the Ohio House in spite of the federal corruption charges filed against him nearly a year ago in a $60 million bribery case.

Ohio Republicans and Democrats are working on a motion for expulsion that could come up during the next voting session on Wednesday.

The Ohio Constitution says members of the Ohio House have the ability to remove a fellow member if that person has engaged in disorderly conduct. Householder said House members who support his expulsion have failed to define "disorderly conduct." 

"I'm absolutely not guilty and at the end of the day it's going to be found that I'm not and that's fine. But the question before the committee is, this resolution, whether it's going to move forward or not," Householder told the House Rules and Reference Committee Tuesday. 

Householder was Speaker of the Ohio House when he was arrested in July 2020 but was removed from that position in July 2020. Federal prosecutors say FirstEnergy funneled millions of dollars to a 501(c)4 controlled by Householder. According to the charges, he used that money for personal and political gain. Federal prosecutors allege that in return for the cash, Householder pushed for passage of House Bill 6, nuclear plant bailout bill that was controversial even before the bribery scandal.

Supporters of expelling Householder say the bribery charges brought against him during his time as House Speaker are enough to kick him out.

Members of the committee, including Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) and Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), asked Householder about his involvement in the legislative process around HB 6. Householder, who was accompanied by attorneys at the committee, said he's under federal order not to talk about the specifics of the court case and declined to comment.

Householder, who ran unopposed in November, says removing him would "subvert" the will of the voters.

"What gives you the right to circumvent their vote and decide who's going to represent them?” he asked the committee. "They've made their choice."

The last time a member of the Ohio House was expelled was 1857, after Rep. John Slough, a Democrat, punched Rep. Darius Cadwell, a Republican, on the House floor. Householder used that case as an example matching the definition of "disorderly conduct" in the state criminal code. But supporters of expulsion countered that the term in the Ohio Constitution is not defined.

When asked why he does not simply resign, Householder said he does not need to step down because he's not guilty.

"I can tell you one thing, that's not what we do in Perry County and that's sure not what the Householder family does," he said. "And I'm never, ever going to do it. Not going to go down that route. Not when I tell my kids constantly to stand up for what they believe in and don't ever back down."

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.