Larry Householder has been removed as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives by a unanimous vote, after his arrest last week on a federal racketeering charge related to the nuclear bailout law he pushed last year.
Longtime lawmaker Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who had not voted for Householder when he became speaker last year but is a strong backer of the bailout law, proposed the motion to remove Householder from that post.
Seitz said it’s the first time a speaker of the Ohio House has ever been removed, and the unanimous vote sends a message.
“As a practical reality the overwhelming majority of the members believe that Speaker Householder can no longer effectively function in that role," Seitz said.
Seitz said a vote for a new speaker won’t happen until the GOP caucus has 50 votes for one candidate. That would avoid the situation that happened two years ago, when it took two and a half hours and eleven rounds of voting to select Ryan Smith to replace Cliff Rosenberger. He had resigned as speaker after it was revealed that he was the target of an FBI probe into payday lending legislation. No charges were ever filed.
Lawmakers met Tuesday to discuss how to move forward without Householder's resignation. At the time there were five candidates vying to replace him, but three dropped out on Wednesday night, throwing their support behind former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bob Cupp (R-Lima). Cupp is unopposed as he runs for re-election to his fourth term in the House this fall.
Seitz supports Speaker Pro Tem Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), who is term limited. Seitz said that gives Butler "no incentive to put his thumb on the scale in support of any other person who might run for speaker next year."
Less than an hour before the vote to strip him of his leadership, Householder was indicted on that federal racketeering charge. Householder is also running for re-election, and is unopposed. So far, the House has not indicated that it will vote to expel him. It would take a supermajority of two-thirds of all members to do that. That could happen if he's re-elected, since he can't be expelled for the same reason twice.
Not sure Householder will be expelled tho. He's unopposed for re-election in a very Republican district. Perhaps he'll be expelled if he's re-elected, since the Ohio Constitution says a member can't be expelled twice for the same reason: https://t.co/iGRmHmlC7c
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) July 30, 2020
And there's still a question of the advice that Attorney General Dave Yost offered House Republicans before their Tuesday meeting. He said in a letter that the constitution requires a speaker’s removal with a law the House and Senate must pass and the governor must sign, and that only the speaker or the governor can call a session in the first place.