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Majority of Ohio House Republicans could sue speaker over control of campaign account

Rep. Phil Plummer and Rep. Derek Merrin.jpeg
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) speaks to reporters at a press conference announcing a package of proposed changes to House rules and ethics laws. To his right is Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township), who has said he was elected the leader of the House Republican caucus, with Plummer voted as chair of the caucus' campaign arm, the Ohio House Republican Alliance.

The factions behind the speaker of the Ohio House and the Republican who expected to be elected to that job are still at war over who controls the House GOP’s campaign money. A meeting on Wednesday could result in a truce, or a lawsuit.

Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) lost the vote for speaker to Rep. Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), but got more votes from Republicans than Stephens did. Merrin said a majority of House Republicans picked him as the caucus chair and Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) as chair of the campaign arm, the Ohio House Republican Alliance (OHRA).

Plummer said that means he controls that money, but he wants to talk to Stephens and his leadership team, who were elected to those positions by the House last month.

“I've contacted an attorney, and I've given him a letter describing the process that we used to select myself as a chair of OHRA. I'm going to meet with a couple of Jason's people to sit down and try to negotiate a landing spot for this problem," Plummer said.
“Unlike them, they didn't leave us a seat at the table. But we're willing to negotiate because we should all be under the same tent at the end of the day.”

But Plummer said he’ll go to court if he has to.

“Until he wants to work with us and not be a dictator, things are going to be rocky for a while.”

Stephens won the speakership over Merrin 54-43, with 22 Republicans and votes from all 32 Democrats.

Stephens has said as speaker, he is the head of the House Republican caucus, and that his name is on the campaign account. Plummer said that only indicates the temporary control Stephens had before he was elected campaign chair.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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