Former Ohio House Speaker Householder Ousted
For the first time in more than 160 years, the Ohio House has voted to expel a state representative. In an extraordinary move, the House voted to suspend the rules and take up the resolution to remove Representative Larry Householder from his seat. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports.
Larry Householder stood on the floor of the Ohio House, surrounded by 96 state representatives, to make one last plea against a move to expel him from office.
"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, who was removed as Speaker last year after his arrest on racketeering conspiracy charges, is accused of playing a role in a $61 million bribery scheme.
Federal investigators say FirstEnergy sent millions of dollars to a 501(c)4 group controlled by Householder, who became Speaker of the House in 2019. Householder is accused of passing House Bill 6, a sweeping energy bill that bailed out two nuclear power plants, in exchange for the money sent to that dark money group that he allegedly used for personal and political gain.
Two of Householder's co-defendants and the 501(c)4 have pleaded guilty to the charges.
Supporters of expulsion, including fellow Republican Representative Brian Stewart, say those charges are enough to expel Householder.
"The Ohio Constitution specifically authorizes us to expel a member for disorderly conduct and so the remedy sought by this resolution is, unquestionably, constitutional."
Democratic Representative Richard Brown added that it's up to the House to hold its own members accountable.
"This body, as judges of the qualifications of the members of this body to make that determination as to what constitutes disorderly conduct."
Householder laid out several arguments for why he should not be expelled, which include his re-election in November, with voters already knowing the charges against him. He ran basically unopposed, with only a handful of write-in candidates against him. Householder adds that he's under federal order not to talk about the details of the case, saying he regrets he can't offer his side of the story.
"You here today are making a decision for them based on not knowing the facts because the facts aren't there yet."
Republican Representative Nino Vitale backed up Householder.
"Would you want to lose your job because you are accused of doing something. That’s what we're voting on today."
To put the resolution on the floor, the House had to go through the seldom-seen step of voting to suspend the rules with a 2/3 majority vote.
Then after a long debate…
"The House shall prepare and proceed to vote."
Nearly every member of the Ohio House cast a vote.
"75 affirmative votes, 21 negative votes. The resolution is adopted, Larry Householder is expelled from the Ohio House of Representatives."
All of those who voted not to expel Householder were Republicans.
Cupp, who became the House’s fourth speaker in three years after Householder's arrest last summer, has been very guarded over questions about expulsion and his own thoughts on the matter. However, he was among the 75 members who voted to expel.
"The unethical conduct reached such a level that a federal grand jury found there was probable cause that it was a crime, doesn't have to be a crime, but it was so egregious that there was probable cause that it was."
As Householder walked out of the House Chamber, he said he plans to go around the state to share his vision for Ohio, leaving the door open for a possible run for office again.
"I can tell you this much. Fellow elected officials who didn't like Public Citizen Householder, are really not going to like Private Citizen Householder."
The House Republican caucus will now fill Householder's empty seat.