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Reps. Crossman & Lepore-Hagan Introduce Public Corruption Repayment Act

March 15, 2021
Jeffrey A. Crossman News

State Reps. Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today filed legislation that would require members of the General Assembly to reimburse the state for any and all compensation received between the time they were indicted for a felony involving public corruption and their conviction.  Under existing law, members convicted of a felony are disqualified from serving in the House or Senate. Similar legislation introduced in the 133rd GA was killed by the Republican House majority.

“This legislation isn’t necessarily designed to resolve the most recent Republican corruption scandal involving former Speaker Householder but it certainly would apply,” said Rep. Crossman. “We need to demonstrate to the people of Ohio that the vast majority of their legislators are honest and will not tolerate corruption. The numerous and outrageous scandals involving the highest-ranking Republicans in the General Assembly have eroded the public’s trust in this institution. This legislation represents an important first step in restoring it.” 

“The people who elect us expect us to put their best interests ahead of the special interests who buy legislation with huge campaign contributions and millions in dark money,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “Too many of my Republican colleagues seem to have forgotten that important principle. Lawmakers who don’t have the decency to resign after they are indicted on serious criminal charges should be forced to repay the people of Ohio when they are convicted. Along with being the absolute right thing to do, it may motivate people who don’t deserve the honor of sitting in the people’s House to leave when they should.”

Under the legislation, affected members would be required to repay both their salary and the cost of medical and retirement benefits from the moment of indictment through the date of conviction. A member who is acquitted or convicted of a lesser offense would not be subject to the penalties established in the bill. 

This legislation also contains provisions that would prevent a member of the House or Senate from being sworn into office if they are under felony indictment. In that circumstance, the seat would be vacant for a period of three months. If the criminal case involving the member is unresolved at that point, the legislative caucus of the barred member will appoint someone to the seat. 

Rep. Crossman has continuously pushed for Householder’s expulsion. He raised a motion on the floor of the House on July 30, 2020, which every Democratic member supported, but all Republican members opposed. Crossman also pushed the Republican majority to expel Householder in a statement on the House floor on March 10, 2021, the day the House passed a partial repeal of House Bill 6’s nuclear bailout subsidies.