Ohio’s House Republicans met Tuesday afternoon to discuss what to do about Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), eight months after the former speaker’s arrest on federal corruption charges, and four months after his re-election to his seat, and two months into a term with no committee assignments.
The meeting of the caucus, which included Householder, had what longtime lawmaker Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) called a “very civil and spirited exchange of views”. But Seitz said there was never a plan to make a decision.
Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) replaced Householder as speaker. Cupp said several times Householder, who was running against just write-ins in November, could only be expelled from the House once for a particular reason.
Cupp has said he has an option he prefers.
“There's an expulsion the House could do if a majority agree. There’s impeachment, that is another option," Cupp said in December. "I have said in the past I think the honorable thing to do would be for the former speaker to resign."
Cupp was asked repeatedly by reporters about Householder.
“There’s still ongoing discussions among the caucus to find out where they’re at," Cupp said in a call with reporters on February 8, hinting that there appeared to be a split in the caucus.
And ten days later, he was asked again, and replied: “We have 64 members. It takes a long time.”
It would take "yes" votes from 66 of the 99 members to expel Householder.
And because House Democrats have proposed removing him before, it’s likely all 35 will vote to expel. In 2019, three quarters of the Democratic caucus voted for Householder as speaker and made up half of the votes give him the victory over incumbent speaker Ryan Smith.
Elected Republicans in his district have written to Cupp asking for Householder to be expelled. That includes 13 officials from Licking County, saying “the people of eastern and southern Licking County deserve to have adequate representation in Columbus”.
Householder has no committee assignments, but has been in session regularly and has proposed two new bills – both were described as dealing with accountability in government.
Householder is facing charges in the $60 million alleged bribery scandal involving the nuclear bailout law known as House Bill 6. He's pleaded not guilty, along with former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges and lobbyist Neil Clark, who was found dead in Florida Tuesday morning.
Two other lobbyists, Juan Cespedes and Jeff Longstreth, have pleaded guilty. So has the dark money group Generation Now. The allegations include a utility widely believed to be FirstEnergy, which has filed paperwork with the FEC suggesting improper transactions.
Householder is also accused of campaign finance violations, including $32,000 in excess or improper donations from Cespedes and others.