The Ohio House of Representatives voted Thursday morning to remove Speaker Larry Householder from his leadership position, with an initial vote count of 90-0.
Nine members of the chamber, including Householder, were “absent,” though some of them are likely to cast votes that will become part of the record throughout the day. Though removed from his leadership position, Householder retains his seat in the body, and currently faces no opposition on the ballot in November, though write-in candidates may still emerge.
Householder, four political operatives and a dark-money group were charged last week by prosecutors in a criminal complaint that an Ohio energy company paid them $61 million to get a $1.3 billion nuclear bailout from ratepayers in the form of House Bill 6. Also Thursday, an official federal grand jury indictment was filed against Householder.
Charged along with Householder were Matt Borges, a lobbyist who was formerly chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, Neil Clark, a lobbyist who owns Grant Street Consulting, Juan Cespedes, also a lobbyist, and Householder’s aide, Jeffrey Longstreth.
All are charged with racketeering, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
The criminal complaint says that “Company A,” the former FirstEnergy Solutions of Akron, worked to save its failing nuclear plants by funneling $61 million into Generation Now, a 501(c)(4) “dark money” group controlled by Householder.
The money was used for three general purposes, the complaint said. First it was used to build “Team Householder” through campaign contributions and other measures that helped Householder win the speakership in 2019. The money was also allegedly used for the personal benefit of Householder and the other conspirators. Finally, the money was allegedly used to fend off a petition effort to repeal HB 6, going so far as to buy plane tickets for and pay $2,500 each to people circulating it to get out of town.
House Republicans were huddled behind closed doors Thursday determining who to select as the next speaker.