Larry Householder appears in Statehouse, plans to defend himself against corruption charges

State Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, who is charged with racketeering in a federal public corruption case, returned to the Ohio House on Tuesday for its session and declared that he is innocent.

“I am innocent. I’m going to defend myself vigorously,” he said.

It marks the first time he has spoken publicly about the case and the first time since his colleagues removed him as speaker of the House in July.

Credit: Laura A. Bischoff

Credit: Laura A. Bischoff

House Speaker Robert Cupp, R-Lima, said Householder should resign from office and that his appearance in the House chamber “was offensive to many members. I think it brought back the fact that he has brought disrepute on the House.”

Householder also stood by House Bill 6, the $1.3 billion bailout bill at the center of the corruption case. He described it as a law that will save ratepayers $2.3 billion and preserve thousands of jobs.

Householder declined to answer questions about the FBI investigation or allegations that he coordinated with a dark money group to funnel $60 million into a scheme to elect pro-Householder legislators, position Householder to return as speaker and pass and defend House Bill 6.

Householder remains on the November ballot unopposed for his seat representing Perry County. Householder said he has no doubt that he can effectively represent his district while under indictment and he added that he’ll take his seat again in January if re-elected.

The U.S. District Court released him on bond under conditions, including no contact with potential witnesses in the case. An 81-page criminal complaint filed in the case uses pseudonyms to refer to several state representatives and others.

Householder said attending the session — where potential witnesses might be — doesn’t violate those bond conditions. “I’m just here to do my job,” he told reporters before the House session began.

He declined to say which state representative he believes might be the unnamed FBI informant who provided information to investigators on the case against him.

Jennifer Thornton, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney David DeVillers, declined to comment on whether Householder attending session violates the terms of his release.

Householder is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court. The arraignment has been delayed to give Householder time to find legal counsel. He said Tuesday he thinks he has a lawyer lined up.

The former speaker was greeted warmly by some staff members and fellow lawmakers. He was reassigned a seat on the House floor next to state Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin.

Lipps said he was surprised to see Householder come to session, but they didn’t talk about House Bill 6 or Householder’s legal issues.

State Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, offered no comment on Householder’s attendance, saying that he’s an elected member.

State Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester, said he isn’t surprised Householder showed up but said it’s “a little weird.”

Householder took a lunch break with state Reps. J. Todd Smith and Phil Plummer, two Republicans from the Miami Valley.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday said Householder is still a member and has a right to be there in the House chambers.

“That’s his call,” DeWine said.

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