Ohio House Votes To Expel Larry Householder

[John Minchillo / Associated Press]

Updated: 6:08 p.m., Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Ohio House voted to expel former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) for his role in an alleged federal bribery scheme.

The House barely voted 75-21 to remove Householder on Wednesday afternoon. Agreement from a two-thirds majority, or 75 of the House's 99 members was required.

All those who voted against the expulsion were Republicans, and many had supported Householder in his bitter fight to unseat former Speaker Ryan Smith in 2019.

Householder defended himself on the floor, as he did in a committee hearing the day before. He said he's innocent of the charges against him, and that members can't prove that he committed disorderly conduct.

Householder left the chamber immediately after the House removed him. He spoke to reporters outside, saying he was returning to his southern Ohio farm Wednesday to help his wife plant tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and sweet corn, according to the Associated Press. Over the longer term, he intends to speak out against elected officials he believes — unlike himself — have in fact acted unconstitutionally.

“I can tell you this much,” Householder told reporters. “Fellow elected officials who didn’t like public citizen Householder are really not going to like private citizen Householder.”

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) supported the other chamber’s decision.

“Elected officials should always conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid even the mere appearance of impropriety. Larry Householder has damaged the reputation of the General Assembly and his presence in the House had become divisive and disruptive,” Yuko said in a press release. “I commend my House colleagues for taking action today to show that the legislature is capable of holding its members accountable.”

The last and only other time a member of the Ohio House was expelled was in 1857, after Rep. John Slough, a Democrat, punched Rep. Darius Cadwell, a Republican, on the House floor.

Householder used the historic case as an example matching the definition of "disorderly conduct" in criminal code, though supporters of expulsion countered that the term in the Ohio Constitution, which allows members of the Ohio House to remove a fellow member if that person has engaged in disorderly conduct, is not defined.

Householder, who ran unopposed was reelected to his seat last November, said the motion to expel him was not the proper way to remove him from office – though he conceded impeachment would be.

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.

Two people accused in that case, lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Householder aide Jeff Longstreth, have pleaded guilty last year. The 501(c)4, Generation Now, also has accepted a plea deal. Lobbyist Neil Clark was also facing charges, but died by suicide in March. Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges have both maintained their innocence.

While the House was debating the resolution to remove him, Householder, who maintained his innocence, said he had never taken a bribe or sold a piece of legislation.

“I have not, nor have I ever took a bribe or provided a bribe. I have not nor have I ever solicited a bribe. And I have not nor have I ever sold legislation, never, ever,” Householder said Tuesday.

The Associated Press and Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler contributed to this report.

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