The FBI is investigating the travel and lavish lifestyle of the Ohio House of Representatives, Cliff Rosenberger. In this video, Rosenberger's choice for the next speaker, Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, weighs.
COLUMBUS – Under investigation by the FBI for its luxurious lifestyle, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned on Tuesday for the night, effective May 1.
"This research has the potential to be very demanding and intensive, and could take months or even years to resolve," he said in a statement. "Ohioans deserve elected leaders who can devote their full attention to (legislate) …
" I take this step with full confidence in my final claim. "
The FBI's interest in Rosenberger, one of the Ohio's most powerful politicians, from their travels around the world to their use of a donor's luxury condo, several people informed about the investigation told The Enquirer.
As speaker, the Clinton County native has taken advantage of The advantages of the office to the maximum A review of Monday's Enquirer detailed his trip, which included from Europe to Israel, from Los Angeles to Boston, and often his travels were paid for with other people's money, instead of With his salary of $ 100,798, he often rubbed shoulders with lobbyists on trips.
FBI agents are also investigating Rosenberger's intimate relationship with Ginni Ragan, a GOP donor for a long time. 36 years old, from Clarksville, he rented a luxury condo in downtown Columbus. The speaker did not say how he paid the rent, and state law does not require him to disclose it.
Rep. Kirk Schuring, Rosenberger's deputy, said he was not sure if the FBI investigation of Rosenberger included citations from House GOP or any of its members.
More: FBI Investigator in the Ohio House of Representatives Luxurious Lifestyle, Including Travel with Lobbyists
More: From England with the granddaughter of Churchill to Normandy, free: Ohio Speaker's Journey
& # 39; How do you read on the cover? & # 39;
Among the leading republican legislators, Rosenberger's love of travel was unrivaled. Schwing said he follows a simple guide when considering whether to accept free travel: "How do you read on the cover of the newspaper?"
Rosenberger's fall from power was incredibly fast. News of the FBI investigation broke on Friday night. After The Enquirer's review of his trip and an Enquirer report on Tuesday detailing the scope of the FBI investigation, Rosenberger told House Republicans he would resign.
After an emotional resignation before the assembly on Tuesday night, Rosenberger slipped out of the Riffe Center in Columbus, which has most of the offices of the House of Representatives, avoiding a group of reporters waiting.
Legislators who left the caucus meeting thought of Rosenberger's free fall.
Rosenberger's allies were already defending his legacy .
"I have no concern about your trip," said Rep. Bill Seitz, of R-Green Township. The political arm of the GOP House, he added, "raised more money than he had ever raised before during his speech, and we have elected more Republican representatives than ever before under his spokesperson – by definition, that is called success."
An unpleasant race for the replacement of Rosenberger
Schuring, R-Canton, will become a speaker until the House chooses a new one, probably shortly after Rosenberger officially resigns. That person will serve until the end of 2018.
Rosenberger had a limited term of office in late 2018, and Republicans in the House of Representatives were already involved in an unpleasant race for his replacement. The main candidates: Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, a friend and ally of Rosenberger, and the representative Larry Householder, R-Glenford, who served as president of the House from 2001 to 2004.
The chief himself Family knows something about the FBI investigations. In 2004, the FBI investigated allegations that Householder and collaborators exchanged legislation for campaign contributions. In 2006, the US Department of Justice UU He closed the case and said that no criminal charges were justified. Householder returned to the Ohio House in 2017 after serving as auditor of Perry County.
The contest to be the next speaker will intensify, with some trying to link Smith to the problems of Rosenberger and others warning of the return of the problems of heads of family. Smith will try to hold the Rosenberger coalition together, and Householder will try to cheat the representatives for their efforts.
The race may continue after the November elections, when the majority party will vote again for a leader, this time for a period of two years. finished. Smith and Householder already backed different Republican candidates in some House primaries across the state, each hoping to win votes for their speaker careers.
In England with Churchill's granddaughter – and lobbyists
A trip that is of interest to the FBI: In August, Rosenberger joined five Republican leaders from other states on a four-day trip to London, funded by the conservative Leadership Development Institute of the GOPAC Education Fund. Also on the trip: Representative Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, who attended Rosenberger as a guest, said GOPAC Executive Director Jessica Curtis.
The trip, documented in Facebook photos, included the opportunity to meet Celia Sandys, the granddaughter of the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The lobbyist Steve Dimon appears in a Facebook post in a London bar with Celia Sandys, granddaughter of the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Ohio President Cliff Rosenberger traveled for free with lobbyists and other lawmakers from across the country. Dimon (Photo: The Enquirer / Chrissie Thompson)
It also included an opportunity for lobbyists to rub elbows with legislators. Two lobbyists for LoanMax title lender Steve Dimon of Ohio and Leslie Gaines of South Carolina are photographed on Facebook photos of the trip.
Title and payday lenders have been trying to stop legislation that would restrict that industry. Dimon declined to comment if he discussed the legislation with Rosenberger on the trip.
Did the FBI ask you about the trip? "You should ask the FBI," Dimon told The Enquirer on Saturday.
Did you lobby with Rosenberger?
Dimon and Gaines, linked as business partners and as a couple, have spent time with Rosenberger and other members of the Ohio House throughout the country.
Gaines' Facebook page includes photos of Rosenberger in Vermont, Florida, a pheasant hunt and the Ohio stadium.
But Gaines is not registered as a lobbyist in Ohio.
Both Dimon and Gaines press for Select Management Resources, which LoanMax owns. Dimon is registered as a lobbyist for that company in Ohio. Gaines is registered to lobby for the same company in South Carolina.
Dimon did not mention the trip to England on any state form, which is not necessary as long as he does not pay any of the expenses of Rosenberger or Manning. Nor did he report lobbying for Select Management Resources on any bill in the second half of 2017.
The company has three other lobbying groups in Ohio: Bob Klaffky, Doug Preisse and Ben Kaiser, all of Van Meter, Ashbrook & Associates . The three said they pressed on two bills for Select Management Resources in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Registered lobbyists in Ohio do not have to report their own travel expenses, said Tony Bledsoe, the inspector general of the Legislature. Ohio. But they have to report all the bills that they discussed with the legislators. They must also report all the food they bought for a legislator and any gifts, entertainment or travel worth more than $ 25 that they bought for legislators.
How did Dimon and Gaines embark on the trip with Rosenberger and the other legislators? When asked who went on a trip in addition to lawmakers, Curtis said that GOPAC did not disclose its donors.
GOPAC is a 501 (c) (4) non-profit organization. Such non-profit organizations dedicated to "social welfare" are not required to disclose the names of their donors and are allowed to get into politics.
Neither Dimon nor Gaines responded to requests for comments on Tuesday.