State Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro), who co-sponsored a bill that resulted in the arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four of his associates this week, said, “I’m disappointed and angry at Larry Householder” in a statement issued by his office late Friday morning.
Wilkin’s office issued the statement after Wilkin was able “to thoroughly review the complaint involving Speaker Larry Householder and four others.”
Wilkin stated, “His actions, as alleged in these charges, affect many good people who work in and around the Ohio House of Representatives. He can’t effectively lead the House and should resign.”
The statement continued, “When Representative Jamie Callender asked me to jointly sponsor House Bill 6, I agreed to do so because it’s good energy policy for Ohio consumers and, according to the Legislative Service Commission, will save Ohioans $2.3 billion.
“If the legislature decides to repeal House Bill 6 because of the way Larry Householder handled it, I understand, but it should be immediately replaced with a measure advancing the same core principles that help Ohioans.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Wilkin had said, “I was shocked at the news of the charges against Speaker Householder. There’s nothing more important than the public trust in their representatives. I have faithfully and diligently worked on behalf of my district and will continue to do so. Larry Householder and the others charged will have their day in court and, if convicted, they must be held accountable the same way any other Ohioan would be.”
Householder donated more than $10,000 to Wilkin’s 2018 campaign while FirstEnergy donated $13,000.
In a Friday article on Cleveland.com, the headline refers to Wilkin as a member of “Team Householder, the candidates Larry Householder recruited to help him become Ohio House Speaker.”
On Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reversed course and called for the nuclear bailout energy law Wilkin co-sponsored to be repealed in the wake of the state’s $60 million bribery scandal, the Associated Press reported.
The Republican DeWine said he continues to support the policy in the bill, including preserving Ohio’s two nuclear power plants as part of power generation in the state.
But DeWine says the process that created the bill and the law tainted it irrevocably.
While reasonable people can argue about the policy issues, “the process by which it was created stinks. It’s terrible. It’s not acceptable,” DeWine said.
He called on lawmakers to repeal and revisit the legislation “through an open process that the public can have confidence in.”
Debate over the bill began Tuesday, following the arrests of Householder and four associates in the $60 million case. Federal prosecutors allege Householder and others accepted bribes to shepherd the energy bill into law.
On Wednesday, DeWine had been adamant that the law shouldn’t be repealed, saying the policy was sound even if the way it was enacted wasn’t.
The governor also encouraged lawmakers to move quickly to replace Householder, saying he can no longer function in his job given the charges.
The governor’s comments on his reversal came about two hours after House Republican lawmakers launched an effort to repeal a nuclear bailout law and “sanitize” legislative activity as a bribery scandal unfolds over the law’s passage.
Rep. Laura Lanese of suburban Columbus said repealing the bill and starting over is the only way to address state energy policy issues and restore trust. The state should be encouraging renewable energy development in Ohio as part of its overall energy plan, Lanese said.
The House “needs to reassure Ohioans, whether Democrat or Republican, that we are working in their honor,” she said.
Lanese and Republican Rep. Rick Carfagna believe the whole bill has been “tainted” by the criminal investigation revealed Wednesday.
The Republican lawmakers were joined at the press conference by Republican Sen. Stephanie Kunze, who came to show her support for the plan to repeal.
“From the beginning, this bill and the intention of this bill were not for Ohio but for a select group,” Kunze said Thursday. “It was not about the jobs, it was really a scheme to rip off the taxpayers of Ohio.”
Democratic Reps. Michael O’Brien and Michael Skindell also announced their plans to repeal House Bill 6 on Wednesday while calling for Householder to resign.
Skindell blamed the state’s one-party rule for allowing Republican politicians like Householder to “feel invincible” and beholden to special interest groups over their own constituents.
“HB 6 was the manifestation of this alleged corruption,” he said.
U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the ploy as likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme that has “ever been perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”
Householder was one of the driving forces behind the nuclear plants’ financial rescue. Previous attempts to bail out the nuclear plants had stalled in the Legislature before Householder became speaker. Months after taking over, he rolled out a new plan to subsidize the plants and eliminate renewable energy incentives.
The 2019 law added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo. The bill faced fierce opposition from both clean energy groups and manufacturers.
Repealing the law quickly won’t be easy, and is complicated by the support the law received in the House, both from Householder-backed Republicans and Democrats persuaded to support the measure.
Nonetheless, Lanese says that behind the scenes there is a movement to hold a hearing on the majority-led bill as soon as possible as “Ohioans deserve answers.”