The Ohio House came back to work Tuesday. And Republican Rep. Larry Householder did too, for the first time since he was ousted as speaker after he was indicted in an alleged bribery scheme involving the nuclear bailout law he championed.
"I'm not going to cause any problems here. I mean, I'm just coming here to to participate and vote for the people of my district," said Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford).
Householder spoke to reporters in the back of the House chamber as he waited for session to get started.
Householder said he’s innocent of the racketeering charges related to the nuclear bailout law, which he says saved those power plants and jobs, and he doesn’t want to see it repealed.
“Good legislation is good legislation, and it was the right thing to do for the people of Ohio. There were obviously people who were looking for business advantages and other things to close down those power plants, just like there always is," Householder said.
He and other bailout backers have said the legislation saved the state's two nuclear power plants, along with 4,000 jobs. And they say it will save ratepayers $2.3 billion.
They also claim its opponents were financed by natural gas interests and the Chinese government, which was never proven. Opponents of the law included environmentalists and research groups.
But the source of the funding for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, the group that tried to put the law before voters last fall, is unclear. So was the funding for Ohioans For Energy Security, the pro-bailout group that fought that attempt.
The federal lawsuit says the nonprofit group Generation Now illegally pumped millions of dollars into the effort to pass the law and to put it on the ballot.
Ohio House is back in session - and so is Republican former Speaker @HouseholderOH, who was removed from leadership after federal indictment in alleged bribery scheme involving nuclear bailout law but was not removed from his seat pic.twitter.com/IXhjoIPy07— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) September 1, 2020
Householder said it's good to be back at the Statehouse, saying he felt the decision to strip him of his speakership was wrong, but that "things got pretty wild there for a while. I understand that. And those things happen. I mean, that's part of politics. When you get into the arena, sometimes those things occur."
And he compared his situation to investigations and other activities involving President Trump.
“If you look at what's going on at the national level with the president and everyone else, it just seems that's the way things are today. So I wouldn't say it's embarrassing the final stretch of the imagination," Householder said. "I feel good about what I've done and what I've done to protect the people, the state of Ohio and the legislation that we move forward. And I feel proud about all those things.”
Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said she wasn’t surprised to see Householder return to his seat, since Republicans had rejected a proposal from Democrats to expel him.
"The Republican members decided they did not want to do that, so why wouldn't he show up? Nothing really shocks me these days. But that is obviously an issue that the Republicans want to deal with in their own way.”
New Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has hinted that Republicans may expel Householder if he is re-elected to his seat. He has no opposition named on the ballot, but four candidates are running against him as official write-ins.
Householder, who was re-elected in 2018 by a two-to-one margin in his district, faces four write-in candidates this fall.