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Ohio’s Speaker of the House resigns amid growing corruption scandal
Ohio’s Speaker of the House will join a growing number of Republicans leaving office this year.
Cliff Rosenberger had said last week that he would wait to resign amid an FBI probe, but will now resign immediately, an Ohio GOP spokesman said. Rosenberger announced his resignation Tuesday after learning that the FBI was looking into expensive trips he took.
Ohio Speaker to resign immediately
Though Rosenberger originally said he would wait until May 1 to resign, his resignation is now effective immediately following pressure from fellow Republicans including the number two in the Ohio House. Ohio House GOP spokesman Brad Miller said that the Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, believed it would be best for Rosenberger to step down immediately.
Rosenberger had originally said he would wait until May 1, but was met with pressure to step down immediately. Schuring, his temporary successor, gave the big push.
Rosenberger, 37, told the Dayton Daily News that he had retained an attorney after learning that the FBI was asking questions about him. The former Speaker said he believed he did nothing wrong during his tenure.
“First and foremost, I believe that all of my actions as speaker have been both ethical and lawful,” he said in a statement this week.
The Bureau is reportedly looking into lavish expenditures on Rosenberger’s housing and travel. The FBI is said to be probing his Columbus condo rental, which Rosenberger rents from a Republican mega-donor who has contributed $50,000 to his campaigns.
Rosenberger also took trips to England, France, Italy, and Israel that were reportedly paid for by payday lending firms that may have been looking to influence the business of the legislature. Of particular interest is a four-day trip to London in August of 2017 that was paid for by GOPAC, which endorses Republican candidates for state legislature.
Two lobbyists from the payday lending industry accompanied Rosenberger on the trip. The Ohio House is debating an anti-corruption bill, House Bill 123, that looks to crack down on fraud in payday lending.
Officials in the industry have been reportedly trying to mitigate or obstruct the bill for more than a year. The bill, which was in committee last week, will move onto the House floor in May, according to Schuring.
Who will replace him?
The news of Rosenberger’s resignation was followed quickly by a discussion of whether to elect an interim Speaker to finish out the year. The GOP-controlled House will likely choose a new Speaker in the next few weeks.
State lawmakers said that several representatives have already thrown their hat in the ring. Reps. Ryan Smith, Dorothy Pelanda, Andy Thompson and Jim Butler have all begun to vie for the role.
Rosenberger joined the Ohio House in 2011 and assumed the Speakership in 2015, becoming the youngest-ever person to fill the role and the first Asian-American.
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