COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) --- After months of refusing to resign and a successful re-election campaign, Larry Householder was expelled from the Ohio House of Representatives Wednesday.
Householder’s fellow legislators voted to oust the former leader, using a provision in the Ohio Constitution to remove him from the chamber for the remainder of the term.
Last summer, the Ohio Republican was indicted on federal racketeering charges after his arrest in connection with a $60 million dollar bribery scheme. Shortly after his indictment, the Ohio House voted to remove him from his post as House Speaker.
Householder was indicted by a grand jury along with four other individuals and Generation Now, a nonprofit organization. Prosecutors say millions of dollars were funneled through Generation Now and used as bribes to ensure the passage of Ohio House Bill 6, a $1 billion taxpayer bailout of two nuclear power plants in Northern Ohio.
Last summer, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers detailed the scheme. “In March 2017, Householder began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of Generation Now. The defendants allegedly spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.”
Although he was under indictment, Householder was reelected to the Ohio House in November. His district covers rural areas in Central Ohio, with his name the only one on the ballot because his arrest came after the filing deadline.
His presence in the House placed a cloud over the legislator and divided his fellow Republican lawmakers. After months, the resolution to remove him almost did not make it to the House floor, getting out of committee by one vote.
However, on Wednesday the Republican-controlled Ohio House voted 75-21 to remove him from the chambers. A total of 43 Republicans voted to oust Householder, with 32 Democrats voting with them, while 20 Republicans and one Democrat opposed the resolution.
Householder maintained his innocence while testifying Tuesday during a nearly two-hour hearing. On the floor Wednesday, he told legislators, “I have not nor have I ever taken a bribe or provided a bribe. I have not nor have I ever sold legislation, never, ever.”
Householder did not go into details about the federal case against him.
Court documents say Householder and the other defendants took millions in bribes to ensure the passage of HB 6 and to defeat a ballot initiative that would have repealed the bill after it was signed into law by Republican Governor Mike DeWine. Householder pleaded not guilty to the bribery charges. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison.
After months of Householder refusing to resign despite pleas from other Ohio Republicans, the House used a rarely used provision in the Ohio Constitution that gives lawmakers the ability to police other members for disorderly conduct.
The last time the provision was used was in 1857, when a representative punched another representative.
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