COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Larry Householder, the former Ohio House speaker entangled in a federal bribery scheme, called the allegations against him “unfounded” and said he should not be removed from his seat.
“I’ve never solicited for a bribe, and I have never bribed or solicited someone else for a bribe,” said Householder.
Householder spoke on his own behalf Tuesday during a hearing to determine whether he should be expelled.
“We brought this resolution because it’s the right thing to do because the reputation of this house is at stake and it’s time to get this done,” said Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville).
Householder, a Republican from Glenford, was removed as House Speaker before winning an uncontested reelection in 2020. He was arrested and charged only after the ballot had been set. He is accused of being the ringleader in a $61 million bribery scandal to bail out two nuclear power plants operated by FirstEnergy.
“This isn’t about whether I’m guilty or not guilty,” said Householder, who wasn’t under oath. “We have a court system in place that will decide that question after a jury hears evidence. … This resolution seeks to shortcut the legal system. It denies due process. It subverts the will of the people.”
Under the advisement of his attorney, Householder refused to answer several questions from committee members on his actions leading up to the passage of House Bill 6.
“I fully intend to walk into a court room in Cincinnati and walk out a free man and innocent. I believe when the truth comes out that will happen, that is not for today,” said Householder.
Two others accused, Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges. Neil Clark died by suicide shortly after the charges were announced. And Matt Borges has denied the charges against him and is publicly declaring his innocence.
Householder has also pleaded not guilty. He was replaced as House Speaker, but Republicans took their time in deciding whether to attempt to remove him from office. The effort under way has support from both parties.
“The reason I pleaded not guilty is simply, because I am,” Householder said.
Householder says he will not resign.
“I’m never, ever going to do it. I’m not going to go down that route,” he said. “I’ll have my day in court and I’m confident.”
The resolution to remove Householder could be considered by the full House as early as Wednesday. House Speaker Bob Cupp says the next steps are still undecided.