Former Ohio House speaker Cliff Rosenberger is living his best Instagram life, kayaking in Antarctica, flying over Iguazu Falls between Brazil and Argentina, visiting Buenos Aires, Santiago and Rio — as a federal investigation into his travel and spending in office remains open.
Under the Instagram handle “The Atlas Drifter,” Rosenberger posted dozens of photos of his excursion to South America, as well as a trip to England over the past three months. The account was made private hours after the Dayton Daily News inquired about it this week.
In his last required ethics disclosure statement filed in May 2019, Rosenberger reported no employment. His investments were limited to his deferred compensation and public retirement accounts.
In October 2018, Rosenberger purchased a $330,000 house in Warren County through a newly formed LLC, property records show.
Rosenberger declined to say how he paid for the trips or say if he’s currently employed.
“I have been a private citizen for almost two years, and my personal life is not newsworthy,” he said in a text message. He declined further comment.
“I’m not on Instagram and have not looked at his Instagram feed. And I’m not privy to his finances and it would be inappropriate for me to speculate,” his defense attorney David Axelrod said when asked how Rosenberger afforded the trips.
Nearly two years ago, Rosenberger abruptly resigned as House speaker after he told the Dayton Daily News he had hired Axelrod to deal with an FBI probe. Federal agents raided his home and storage unit a month later in May 2018.
In August 2018, the Ohio House released copies of a federal search warrant and subpoena that shows authorities were trying to build a public corruption case against Rosenberger and three payday lending industry representatives. While Rosenberger was speaker, a payday lending reform bill was opposed by the industry and stalled in the Ohio House.
There have been no public developments on the case since then. FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren said the investigation is ongoing and there are no new details to release at this point.
Axelrod said Rosenberger has done nothing wrong, yet has had the investigation hanging over him like “a sword of Damocles.”
“This needs to come to an end at some point,” he said.
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