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Ohio House kicks out former Republican president in historic vote

Members of Ohio House expelled provocative Larry Householder, the indicted ex-Republican president, in a bipartisan vote on Wednesday, citing their powers to remove a member for the first time in 150 years.

The GOP-controlled House voted 75-21 to remove Householder, from County Perry, approving a resolution that declared he was unfit for office because of the indictment.

“I have never taken a bribe or solicited or been solicited for accepting a bribe,” Householder said, reiterating his innocence on the House floor before being expelled.

The entire House voted after Republican lawmakers forced the measure to defeat the measure instead of waiting for the eviction resolution to go through the committee process.

Representatives Brian Stewart and Mark Fraizer, both Republicans representing Householder’s border districts, urged their colleagues to “do the right thing” and remove Householder from his seat.

“It was a distraction. It has been a task for the institution and it is time for us to come together as one body, ”said Fraizer, adding that“ this institution is greater than any man ”.

Householder and four associates were arrested in July in an investigation related to legislation containing a taxpayer-funded bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants. The billion dollar bailout would have added new charges to every state electricity bill and directed more than $ 150 million a year through 2026 to factories near Cleveland and Toledo.

Federal prosecutors allege Householder and his allies took money from FirstEnergy in exchange for orchestrating a plan to elect Householder president, placed his allies in House seats, then passed the bill bailout bill and thwarted a subsequent ballot effort to repeal it.

If found guilty of the federal charges against him, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Wednesday’s landmark vote sparked a colorful backlash from Democrats and Republicans in Ohio.

“Justice, decency and common sense gave a standing ovation in today’s vote to expel Mr. Householder from the People’s House,” Attorney General Dave Yost tweeted shortly after. the vote.

State Representative Emilia Sykes, the top House Democrat, who has been urging lawmakers to expel Householder for more than a year, said the disgraced lawmaker had given the chamber “no other choice than to act “.

“Make no mistake, there is no joy in seeing a former Ohio speaker disgraced from office, but this is our opportunity to fight corruption and turn a page on this dark chapter. of Ohio’s history and to start rebuilding the confidence of the people in a government that is supposed to work for them, ”Sykes said in a statement.

A day before his colleagues eliminated him, Householder appeared before a committee where he testified for hours on why removing him would be the wrong thing to do.

“Just think of the precedent this will set: the allegations are enough to remove anyone from office,” Householder said on Tuesday. “It’s absurd.”

Two of Householder’s co-defendants and a non-profit organization involved have pleaded guilty in the case. FirstEnergy, the energy company at the heart of the latest scandal, has admitted in court records that it made the bulk of the payments under an alleged $ 60 million bribery scheme.

The last time Ohio House kicked out a sitting lawmaker was in 1857, when John P. Slough was sacked for hitting a fellow lawmaker.

On Tuesday, Householder then compared bipartisan efforts to impeach him to attempts by Congressman Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to impeach former President Donald Trump earlier this year. “It’s clearly politically motivated and I think everyone in this room knows that,” he said.

In 2004, Householder first left the House due to term limits as he and several high-level advisers were under federal investigation for alleged money laundering and improper campaigning practices. The government then closed the case without filing a complaint.

After a tough battle, Householder was again elected president in 2019.

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