Skip to comments.Dump Householder, Blackwell says (Ohio GOP infighting)
Posted on 05/25/2004 7:48:07 AM PDT by Deadeye Division
Dump Householder, Blackwell says
Demand is latest round in GOP infighting
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Sandy Theis and Ted Wendling
Plain Dealer Bureau
Columbus - Ohio's Republican Party chairman should demand that Larry Householder resign as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and show contrition for the "political racketeering done on his watch," Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said Monday.
Blackwell made his comments in a letter to GOP Chairman Bob Bennett - a letter that inflamed the growing scandal engulfing House Republicans and the infighting afflicting the GOP.
The letter followed Plain Dealer reports that federal officials have launched a grand jury investigation into Householder's campaign practices.
Bennett responded by taking a swipe at Blackwell.
"No one has been found guilty of anything," Bennett said in a written statement, "and at this point, I would no sooner call on Larry Householder to resign than I would Ken Blackwell."
Bennett has avoided criticizing Householder, instead focusing on the conduct of Householder's chief political consultant, Brett Buerck, and fund-raiser Kyle Sisk. Bennett has accused the two of being overzealous - even though both are on the state party's payroll.
Householder showed no sign of resigning his post.
Through a spokesman, he said he plans to focus on "the challenges that the state's facing," and added, "It's unfortunate that some people are more interested in playing politics."
The FBI and IRS began the probe after receiving an anonymous memo in March. It accused the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee, which Householder oversees, of overpaying some vendors, then having those vendors make secret payments to Householder and his top advisers.
Householder has said the memo is filled with "half-truths and outright lies."
Householder's problems worsened amid reports that Buerck and Sisk helped write memos that disparage fellow Republicans. One 109-page memo detailed a plan to "destroy" Blackwell while promoting Householder. The plan was not implemented.
While no House Republicans are advocating Householder's removal, a growing cadre is questioning whether Buerck's $10,000-a-month contract with the caucus should end.
Rep. Steve Buehrer, a suburban Toledo Republican, stopped short of saying that Buerck should be fired, but said, "I'm hopeful that the speaker will take firm steps in a timely manner to restore the good name of the caucus campaign committee."
Gov. Bob Taft joined the critics Monday.
"It appears that the speaker is being ill-served by his political staff, and this is a problem he needs to address," Taft said in a prepared statement.
Taft did not identify the staff or recommend a course of action for Householder.
Other House leaders defended Householder, with Rep. Gary Cates, a Middletown Republican, accusing Blackwell of "election-year politics."
Blackwell plans to seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2006. Householder backs a rival candidate, Attorney General Jim Petro.
Petro would not comment on the criminal probe, but issued a statement that said, "There is no question that Speaker Householder has the responsibility to clean up whatever problems may exist within his own organization."
Petro's campaign severed its ties with Sisk but still employs Buerck.
Blackwell, however, made it clear that Householder - not his staff - deserves the bulk of the blame for the recent scandals.
"The speaker and his strategists love military analogies," Blackwell said. "So what we are observing is analogous to an admiral on a ship throwing low-ranking sailors overboard to protect his hide. . . . He hired the staff; he encouraged the staff."
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Gov. Bob Taft says House Speaker Larry Householder needs to fix the problems caused by his political advisers. Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell says Householder needs to give up his job as speaker.
The unsolicited advice from fellow Republicans came Householders way yesterday as federal investigators ramped up their probe of possible misdeeds by his top aides and several campaign vendors.
In a letter to Ohio GOP Chairman Robert T. Bennett, Blackwell said, "We must do everything within our power to root out the political cancer that is doing great harm to our party and state."
Bennett rejected Blackwells request while cautioning against "any preliminary rush to judgment. The process must be given time to work itself out."
Taft, who rarely injects him- self into legislative matters, called the federal criminal investigation "a very serious matter" but declined to speculate "until all of the facts are in."
"It appears that the speaker is being ill-served by his political staff, and this is a problem he needs to address," Taft said.
Householder, a Perry County Republican in his second term as speaker, responded through a spokesman to Blackwells remarks.
"The speaker has no plans to step down as speaker," said Dwight Crum. "Were continuing to work on the important issues facing the state. Unfortunately, some people are more interested in playing politics."
In March, Blackwell referred allegations about Householders campaign fund-raising practices to the states two U.S. attorneys, who turned the matter over to the U.S. Department of Justices public-integrity section.
The probe of Householder and his closest aides was triggered by an anonymous ninepage memorandum made public that month. Along with the campaign-finance accusations against the House Republican Campaign Committee and its fund-raising consultants, it alleged violations of federal money-laundering, tax evasion and mail-fraud statutes.
"There is a pretty wide investigation by the feds," Blackwell said. "I would imagine this goes beyond the campaign staff of the speaker."
Blackwell, the states chief elections officer, and Householder, one of the partys most prolific fund-raisers, have clashed several times this year.
In January, Householder told The Dispatch, "Kenny is sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of Ohio politics" while Blackwell called the speaker "a schoolyard bully whos met his match this time."
Rep. James P. Trakas, a suburban Cleveland Republican and member of the House GOP leadership team, sided with the governor, saying Householder needs to take action soon.
"His first response was appropriate," Trakas said, referring to Householders explanation to the House Republican caucus when allegations first surfaced about possible kickbacks to vendors. "But there needs to be more of a response.
"He needs to do something publicly to show that this is affecting the governance of the House."
Bennett said: "The speaker is ultimately responsible for the behavior of his staff, and he should take firm and decisive action if his staff has crossed the line.
"No one has been found guilty of anything, and at this point, I would no sooner call on Larry Householder to resign than I would Ken Blackwell."
To that, Blackwell replied: "That indicates to me the chairman has an ethical blind spot."
Trakas agreed with Bennett.
"I respect Secretary Blackwell, but this is the wrong time to be ratcheting up the political fires," said Trakas, who also is chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party.
In an interview, Blackwell said the Republican Party "must totally eliminate the infrastructure of intimidation and double-dealing that Team Householder has put in place."
Blackwell said he sees no conflict in his office continuing to investigate campaign finance-related complaints at the same time hes asking Householder to quit his leadership post.
"Party officials must cease and desist from advancing the sophomoric nonsense that this mess is the result of galloping testosterone of power hungry young operatives," he wrote in the letter.
"This scandal is the result of a political culture that is rapidly slouching into total darkness and a speaker who relishes being known as the prince of darkness."
Blackwell said its up to voters to decide whether Householder should continue as their state representative.
"Its very clear to me theyre starting to throw people overboard," Blackwell said. "There are folks who have culpability higher up in the food chain. This is tantamount to an admiral throwing his lowerechelon sailors overboard."
Go Blackwell! We need a major overhaul here.
Thanks for the ping, TonyRo76.
For those of you not familiar with Ohio state politics, Blackwell's the "good guy" Householder is the "bad guy".
And know you know just how my state ended up with a RINO Govenor, and two (2) RINO Senator's.
Anybody heard about a brewing "scandal" as it relates to Mike Dewine? Heard it mentioned in passing last night on Fox, but haven't read anything today about it. A Dewine staffer being paid to have sex was the "gist" of what I've heard....
Taft is one of the biggest RINOs around.
Have you been following the Citizens for Tax Repeal? Petro seems to be getting his hands in on this one as well.
Thanks for the links.
I agree with your assessment of the despicable Bobby "Tax Em!" Taft. He's responsible for more unemployed Ohioians than any pol in Washington, of that I'm 100% certain.
And yes, I'm watching the CTR and Petro closely.
Blackwells harsh letter fans flames of GOP feud (Ohio)
IMHO Blackwell is the only hope for this party, plus the influx of new Reps and Senators coming in because of term limits.
I hope from the Lake County area we can put two solid conservatives, (Kresnye and Callender), into the House and Tim Grendell into the Senate from Lake/Geauga. Tim showed his conservative colors when he was a member of the Cavemen when it came to budgetary and spending issues, and is a very strong Second Amendment proponent.
I would hope that from across the state we would be able to elect similar Conservatives that would favor a Tax and Expenditure Limitation amendment to the Ohio constitution so that the Bennetts, Householders, Tafts, and Voinovichs cannot continue to poison the state with their tax and spend policies.
Hate to admit it, but the Pubbies were worse for the state than Celeste was.
In God We Trust
"Hate to admit it, but the Pubbies were worse for the state than Celeste was."
I agree completely. The RINO's have done more to hurt this state than anyone would initially believe.
Turnes out she's only been working for DeWine since February, prior to that she was in Liebermans office.
No different than Charlie Luken, current Mayor of Cincinnati. A few years back, old Charlie won a congressional seat....then suddenly resigned saying "the atomospher of Washington is so poisonous, I can't stay here".
The real story was Luken was having an affair with a staffer. His wife (pretty, intelligent, great lady) gave him the choice of resigning and coming home, or divorce.
Luken resigned, the tax payers paid a ton of money for a special election. Luken then runs for Mayor, wins...and has another affair with another staffer. This time, the wife divorced his ass.
You can't find a bigger Geek than Luken.
As for Dewine, I've never thought much of him, and when I do its usually negative. I have no use for any RINO.
Hate to admit it, but the Pubbies were worse for the state than Celeste was.
This little scandal could be the salvation of the party. This might awaken the Ohio Republican Party to the nature of the people who have been the leadership of our party for many years.
Its time to set up the Revival Tent. We need a rebirth of the Republican Party.
Its time to admit our sins and repent.
And its time to excommunicate the unrepentant from the congregation.
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