The top-ranking Republican in the Ohio House of Representatives is stepping down amid a federal investigation.
Under pressure from his successor, former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) stepped down Thursday, several weeks ahead of his previously announced resignation.
House Speaker Pro Tem, Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), made the suggestion as both sides of the isle called for the change. It seems no one wanted to see the House Speaker on the job while under investigation by the FBI.
Rosenberger’s deputy communications director Brad Miller released a statement late on Thursday. The statement read in part:
After now having time to fully assess the responsibilities of the office of Speaker address the operational aspects of the House and resolve questions regarding who has the appropriate decision-making authority, Representative Shuring felt it was in the best interest of the institution that Cliff Rosenberger resign effective immediately.”
Ohio GOP communications director Blaine Kelly spoke with NBC4 about Rosenberger’s resignation.
“[Speaker Rosenberger] is term-limited, so he’s decided to step down early and so he would not serve as a distraction to the House and they can continue with the people’s business,” Kelly said.
Kelly didn’t want to elaborate on the situation until he can learn more about the investigation.
“Until there’s more information about this investigation, there’s not much more we can say about this,” he said.
Plenty of other members of the Ohio GOP have reacted to the resignation, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“The Speaker is my friend and he’s been a valued partner in Ohio,” Kasich said in a statement. “I am sorry to hear the news but respect him for making a decision that he believes is right for our state and the people and institutions for which he cares deeply. I wish him well in the days ahead.”
State Senator and congressional candidate from Ohio’s 12th district Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) made a similar statement.
“When the federal probe went public prior o the announcement of his resignation, my candidacy made a swift decision to make a $1,000 contribution from the committee to elect Cliff Rosenberger to a Christian homeless shelter who will put the money to good use,” Balderson’s statement said.
On the other side of the aisle, Ohio’s democratic leaders had stronger words about Rosenberger stepping down.
“Given what has been reported the week before, it was not a surprise,” said Ohio Democratic Party president David Pepper. “Given the overall culture right now with the Statehouse it was also not a surprise. This is deeper than just one person.”
Pepper blames what he calls a pay-to-play culture and says this is a result of years of one party being in control of the Statehouse.
“The whole place is just, I think, a big mess,” Pepper said. “In the last seven months, you’ve had one resignation after the next. You have had scandals where I would suggest someone might consider resigning and has not yet.”