Larry Householder’s impact remains strong at Ohio Statehouse ahead of corruption trial

GOP lawmakers push ethics reform

By: - January 20, 2023 4:50 am

Larry Householder addresses reporters after lawmakers voted to expel him from the General Assembly. He has pleaded not guilty to a racketeering charge and awaits trial. Photo by Jake Zuckerman, OCJ.

The following article was originally published on and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.


As the state gets ready for the most significant corruption trial in Ohio history, the Statehouse continuously deals with the lasting impact former House Speaker Larry Householder has on the government.

A group of Republican lawmakers in Ohio is pushing ethics reform, just before one of their own heads to court.

“We’re hopeful that the criminals in the Republican Party who orchestrated this multimillion-dollar bribery scheme will finally be held accountable,” Liz Walters, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party said during a press conference Thursday morning.

Walters has been waiting for the trial against Householder and former GOP leader Matt Borges for two years. She argues nothing has been done to combat corruption after the accused were arrested. Some Republicans, including state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) agree.

RELATED: Former Ohio speaker Larry Householder seeks to prevent recordings being played in corruption trial

Many in the media have pointed out glaring omissions and arrows in our ethics laws, and we want to do our best to solve it,” Merrin said. “When things are ambiguous and not clear, it gives politicians the ability to not get pinned down and to evade.”

The Toledo-area lawmaker, who is currently leading a “third party” in the House after losing the vote for speaker, proposed an ethics bill.

RELATED: Statehouse ‘coup’ — Ohio GOP members bitterly divided by deal with Democrats to elect ‘moderate’ House Speaker

The bill has some similar provisions to the Anti-Corruption Act, introduced by House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and state Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) just days after Householder was arrested. It focused on transparency by requiring dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending.

Other provisions from Merrin’s reform would require lobbyists to share who their money comes from and the amount. Another would prevent elected officials from getting paid for sitting on corporate boards, like Lt. Gov Jon Husted is currently doing, even after facing backlash from people outside and inside his party.

It is also attempting to prevent another House Bill 6 scandal.

RELATED: ‘I’m the leader of the House Republicans’ — After losing speakership, Derek Merrin and allies revolt

“The people that are appointed to the PUCO and the financial disclosures that are missing, people that have had relationships with utility companies, that have received compensation, All that needs to be public before an appointment like that is made,” the legislator continued.

This bill comes after Merrin and other GOP House members wrote a letter to Speaker Jason Stephens about his new pick for the caucus policy director.

Stephens chose Megan Fitzmartin, who worked closely with Householder and Jeff Longstreth. Longsreth pleaded guilty in the case and is soon to testify against Householder, who is maintaining his innocence.

In the letter, the team writes, “The hire is extraordinarily ill-advised and demonstrates questionable judgment.”

It should be noted that Merrin voted against expelling Householder from the House after he was arrested, as did Stephens.

In a response, Stephens argued back that no one should be punished based on who they have previously served.

“Your letter, and similar actions, are ultimately to the detriment of our entire caucus and the Ohio House of Representatives,” the response stated.

Stephens added that singling out the staffer was “haphazard” and “self-serving.”

“I think the bigger question is what Republicans want to spend their time doing and whether they’re actually going to focus on doing the business of the people or kind of fighting out their own political agendas in a very public, embarrassing way and harmful way, for that matter,” Walters said.

Regardless of the motive behind the bill, the Democrat is happy.

“I am hopeful that this means that ethics in the Statehouse will change,” she said. “We’ll see if this continues after the trial is over.”

News 5 Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau will be in Cincinnati covering the trial. Jury selection begins Friday and the trial officially begins Monday. Her previous coverage on the scandal is linked throughout the article

RELATED: Dozens of companies, AG Yost, former lawmakers subpoenaed ahead of Householder corruption trial

Defendants face off

In documents filed Wednesday, Jeff Longstreth and Juan Cespedes have agreed to testify at the upcoming jury trial, according to prosecutors. House operative Longstreth and lobbyist Cespedes both pleaded guilty in the case. Neil Clark, a longtime lobbyist, died by suicide after being charged.

Their plea deal includes prosecutors only recommending a custodial sentence measured in months, not years, according to a response filed Thursday by the Householder team.

On Monday, Borges joined Householder in asking for the court to exclude the two coconspirator plea agreements.

“The defense might be saying ‘We don’t want the fact that they were plea agreements or negotiations with some of the other defendants to come into evidence because that might imply that there actually was this big conspiracy that the government saying we’re part of that,'” Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Entin said.

Householder argued that the pleas and cooperation agreements are “not relevant and are unfairly prejudicial.”

Lawmakers and the Householder Scandal

Check out the chart below to see how the current House lawmakers who are still in office voted on both House Bill 6 and expelling Larry Householder:

*N/A means the lawmaker was not in office yet

District Representative Party HB 6 Expel Householder
1 Dontavius Jarrells Democratic N/A Yes
2 Latyna Humphrey Democratic N/A N/A
3 Ismail Mohamed Democratic N/A N/A
4 Mary Lightbody Democratic No Yes
5 Richard Brown Democratic No Yes
6 Adam Miller Democratic Absent/Abstained Yes
7 Allison Russo Democratic Absent/Abstained Yes
8 Beth Liston Democratic No Yes
9 Munira Abdullahi Democratic N/A N/A
10 David Dobos Republican N/A N/A
11 Anita Somani Democratic N/A N/A
12 Brian Stewart Republican N/A Yes
13 Michael Skindell Democratic No Yes
14 Sean Brennan Democratic N/A N/A
15 Richard Dell’Aquila Democratic N/A N/A
16 Bride Rose Sweeney Democratic No Yes
17 Tom Patton Republican Yes Yes
18 Darnell Brewer Democratic N/A N/A
19 Phil Robinson Democratic No Yes
20 Terrence Upchurch Democratic Yes Yes
21 Elliot Forhan Democratic N/A N/A
22 Juanita Brent Democratic No Yes
23 Daniel Troy Democratic N/A Yes
24 Dani Isaacsohn Democratic N/A N/A
25 Cecil Thomas Democratic No N/A
26 Sedrick Denson Democratic Absent/Abstained Absent/Abstained
27 Rachel Baker Democratic N/A N/A
28 Jessica Miranda Democratic Absent/Abstained Yes
29 Cindy Abrams Republican N/A Yes
30 Bill Seitz Republican Yes No
31 Bill Roemer Republican Yes Yes
32 Bob Young Republican N/A No
33 Tavia Galonski Democratic Yes Yes
34 Casey Weinstein Democratic No Yes
35 Steve Demetriou Republican N/A N/A
36 Andrea White Republican N/A Yes
37 Tom Young Republican N/A Yes
38 Willis Blackshear, Jr. Democratic N/A Yes
39 Phil Plummer Republican Yes Yes
40 Rodney Creech Republican N/A Yes
41 Josh Williams Republican N/A N/A
42 Derek Merrin Republican Yes No
43 Michele Grim Democratic N/A N/A
44 Elgin Rogers, Jr. Democratic N/A N/A
45 Jennifer Gross Republican N/A No
46 Thomas Hall Republican N/A Yes
47 Sara Carruthers Republican Yes No
48 Scott Oelslager Republican Yes Yes
49 Jim Thomas Republican N/A N/A
50 Reggie Stoltzfus Republican No Yes
51 Brett Hillyer Republican Yes No
52 Gayle Manning Republican No Yes
53 Joe Miller Democratic Absent/Abstained No
54 Dick Stein Republican Yes No
55 Scott Lipps Republican Yes Yes
56 Adam Matthews Republican N/A N/A
57 Jamie Callender Republican Yes No
58 Al Cutrona Republican N/A No
59 Lauren McNally Democratic N/A N/A
60 Kris Jordan Republican Yes Absent/Abstained
61 Beth Lear Republican N/A N/A
62 Jean Schmidt Republican N/A Yes
63 Adam Bird Republican N/A Yes
64 Nick Santucci Republican N/A N/A
65 Mike Loychik Republican N/A Yes
66 Sharon Ray Republican N/A Yes
67 Melanie Miller Republican N/A N/A
68 Thaddeus Claggett Republican N/A N/A
69 Kevin Miller Republican N/A N/A
70 Brian Lampton Republican N/A Yes
71 Bill Dean Republican Absent/Abstained Yes
72 Gail Pavliga Republican N/A Yes
73 Jeff LaRe Republican Yes Yes
74 Bernard Willis Republican N/A N/A
75 Haraz Ghanbari Republican Yes Yes
76 Marilyn John Republican N/A Yes
77 Scott Wiggam Republican Yes No
78 Susan Manchester Republican No Yes
79 Monica Robb Blasdel Republican N/A N/A
80 Jena Powell Republican No No
81 James Hoops Republican Yes Yes
82 Roy Klopfenstein Republican N/A N/A
83 Jon Cross Republican Yes Yes
84 Angela King Republican N/A N/A
85 Tim Barhorst Republican N/A N/A
86 Tracy Richardson Republican Yes Yes
87 Riordan McClain Republican No Yes
88 Gary Click Republican N/A Yes
89 D.J. Swearingen, Jr. Republican N/A Yes
90 Brian Baldridge Republican Yes Yes
91 Bob Peterson Republican N/A N/A
92 Mark Johnson Republican N/A Yes
93 Jason Stephens Republican Yes No
94 Jay Edwards Republican Yes No
95 Don Jones Republican Yes No
96 Ron Ferguson Republican N/A Yes
97 Adam Holmes Republican Yes Yes
98 Darrell Kick Republican Yes Yes
99 Sarah Fowler Arthur Republican N/A No

Follow WEWS Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.



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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.