Ohio House President Cliff Rosenberger to step down on May 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger announced Tuesday evening that he would step down from his seat on May 1 amid questions about an FBI investigation in his expenses and his travels.
Rosenberger, a Clinton County Republican who has been a public speaker since 2015, hired a defense attorney after federal agents opened an investigation into his activities, including a trip to London last summer with representatives from the payday loans.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, Rosenberger said he believed all of his actions as a speaker were “ethical and legal.” But he said the investigation “could take months, if not years to resolve,” adding that “Ohioans deserve elected leaders who can devote their full attention” to the problems facing the state.
Rosenberger made the announcement Tuesday night to the House Republican caucus.
Pro Tempore House Speaker Kirk Schuring, a Republican from Canton, will serve as Speaker of the House until the House elects a new speaker to serve until the end of the year.
In a statement, Schuring said Rosenberger’s announcement was “emotional” to him.
“Going forward, my goal will be to facilitate the operations of this institution as smoothly and efficiently as possible,” said Schuring.
Rosenberger, 36, is the first Asian American to become an Ohio House speaker, and is believed to be the youngest to ever hold the post. An Air Force veteran, Rosenberger was previously political coordinator in the administration of former President George W. Bush.
During his tenure as a speaker, Rosenberger oversaw the largest Republican majorities in the state’s history – a job that at times brought him into conflict with various members of his own party as well as with House Democrats. . Under his leadership, House Republicans passed a number of conservative bills on issues ranging from abortion restrictions to tax cuts, and they tried unsuccessfully to prevent Governor John Kasich from accept federal government Medicaid expansion funds.
Rosenberger also became known for his frequent trips to places such as Los Angeles, France, Israel and England which were paid for by campaign funds or by outside groups.
The FBI is reportedly investigating Rosenberger’s trip to London last August, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. He was accompanied on the trip by lobbyists Steve Dimon and Leslie Gaines, who work for a securities lender trying to block legislation to crack down on payday lenders.
Federal agents are also interested in his ties to heiress Ginni Ragan, a top House GOP donor who rents a luxury condo in Rosenberger for an undisclosed amount, according to the Enquirer.
Rosenberger said to the Columbus Dispatch Tuesday that he was not personally approached by the FBI or subpoenaed.
It’s not immediately clear how Rosenberger’s sudden departure will affect the ongoing – and controversial – race to succeed him between Reps Ryan Smith and Larry Householder. Rosenberger is considered an ally of Smith.