Former Ohio House speaker received $43K in free travel in 2017

Republican Cliff Rosenberger, who abruptly resigned as Ohio House speaker, disclosed on Tuesday that he received more than $43,000 in free travel and got free meals and drinks from half a dozen sources last year.

Rosenberger filed his mandatory annual financial disclosure statement with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee — a body he used to lead as speaker.

He also noted that in 2017 he owed at least $1,000 to five entities, including Northbank 503 LLC, which is controlled by Virginia Ragan, a wealthy heiress and GOP donor. Northbank owns a luxury condo in downtown Columbus that Ragan allowed Rosenberger to rent. Neither has ever disclosed how much rent he was charged for use of the 2,237-square-foot condo overlooking the Scioto River. Ragan bought the property in March 2014 for $660,000.

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The ethics statements provide transparency on what gifts, meals, beverages and travel public officials have taken as well as details on their business interests, debtors and creditors, real estate holdings and family members.

Roughly 13,000 public officials are required to file annual financial dislosure statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission while lawmakers and legislative staff file with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. The deadline for most was Tuesday.

Statements filed by lawmakers and key staff are available here.

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Rosenberger said he received gifts worth more than $75 from 26 sources, including fellow lawmakers, staff members, universities, museums and three organizations where he served as a board member — GOPAC, National Conference of State Legislatures and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. Ragan was also listed among the sources of gifts.

GOPAC paid for $3,627 worth of travel; NCSL covered $2,532 in travel; SLLF paid for $689 in trips; Columbus 20/20 paid for $10,942 in travel; and two campaign committees shelled out $24,633 in travel for Rosenberger.

Rosenberger traveled to Iceland and London in August 2017 and Normandy in September 2017. GOPAC and NCSL solicited sponsors, including payday lenders, to underwrite those trips.

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