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Cincinnati lawmaker moves to retire for pension, but will run again

Ohio Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, has filed a letter declaring his intention to retire before the end of his current term with the Ohio House of Representatives.

But the 63-year-old Westside Cincinnati state lawmaker has no intention of retiring from the Statehouse. In fact, he is seeking re-election this November for another term in the Ohio House.

He said the move allowed by Ohio law would let him collect his pension and the letter is a “statutory requirement” if he wants to do so.

RELATED: Area lawmaker ‘livid’ over alleged comments at roast

“What I’m actually doing is retiring from OPERS (Ohio Public Employees Retirement System),” he said, adding that he’s been advised he does not have to retire “a single minute” to collect his pension.

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According to OPERS, an elected official who is re-employed in the same office either for the remainder of an unexpired term or, in Seitz’ case, would serve a new full term if elected following a retirement is subject to pension suspension and forfeiture. Unless, that is, that elected official notified via the county board of elections an intent to retire 90 days prior to a primary election.

That’s what Seitz did.

Before his time in Columbus, Seitz served a term on the Cincinnati Board of Education and two terms as a Green Twp. Trustee. Seitz has served in the Statehouse since 2000, first as an Ohio House member from 2000 to October 2007, then as a State Senator from October 2007 until 2016. He returned to the Ohio House in 2017. Seitz is the House’s Majority Floor Leader.

This action is also “utterly irrelevant” in relation to the fallout from a roast at the Athletic Club of Columbus last month during which Seitz reportedly made sexist and derogatory comments. He formally apologized to Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and former state lawmaker Diane Fessler following criticism related to the roast comments.

“I take full responsibility for my words in their entirety,” Seitz write to Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger in a Jan. 25 letter.

That apology came days after a report that Seitz and others roasted exiting Ohio House Republicans Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe. An online Ohio political blog wrote that the roast was filled with sexist, off-color and demeaning comments, one of which targeted Keller and was reportedly made by Seitz.

READ THE DOCUMENT: The apology, in Seitz’s words

“I offer my sincerest apologies for any distress or embarrassment I may have caused,” he wrote in his letter to Rosenberger. “My words were irresponsible as a member of this esteemed institution and as a member of House leadership.”

Ohio House Republican Caucus spokesman Brad Miller said Seitz consulted the House legal counsel before submitting the letter “to make sure he was fully compliant.”

“He is not doing that,” Miller said of a possible permanent Seitz retirement. “He has filed his petitions, and if he wins in November he will be a member of the Ohio House again next year.”

Miller said this action is “less common in the era of term limits” and referenced the code that permits this as an “old Ohio law.”

“Anyone who would want to take this action would be required to submit a similar letter,” Miller said.

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