FBI raids home of former Ohio House Speaker Rosenberger

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Former Ohio House Speaker Rosenberger

FBI agents yesterday raided the Wilmington, Ohio home of Cliff Rosenberger, former Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, and a storage facility he rents in nearby Wilmington. In mid-April Speaker Rosenberger resigned after he learned in he was a subject of an FBI inquiry.

Raid on former Speaker Rosenberger’s properties

Dressed in khakis and blue polo shirts, teams of FBI agents arrived at both properties early yesterday morning. FBI spokesperson Todd Lingren was tight-lipped about the reason for the raids. “We are conducting law enforcement activities in those areas,” he told journalists without any further explanation.

According to reporting from the Statehouse News Bureau, the storage unit is said to contain items from former Speaker Rosenberger’s Columbus office. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the storage unit’s location may also be significant:

“The storage facility raided by the FBI is located in a building owned by Bret Dixon, former Clinton County Economic Development director and Rosenberger’s former campaign treasurer. Dixon was with Rosenberger on a trip to California in 2017 to court Disney on a project to bring a film studio to Ohio. The project ended up not actually existing.

“Rosenberger also reported a gift of more than $75 from Dixon on his latest financial disclosure form.”

There has been no sign of any additional FBI raids so far. When questioned by reporters, Acting Speaker Kirk Schuring said he was unaware of any FBI searches of Republican offices or offices connected to OHROC, the House Republican campaign organization.

What did former Speaker Rosenberger do?

As is normal, details about what exactly the FBI is investigating are being kept confidential. Despite this there are many working theories being reported in the media, including possible “pay-to-play” deals between the former Speaker and Ohio’s payday loan industry.

Rosenberger has consistently denied any illegal or unethical behavior on his part, even when he was in the process of resigning in April.

Yesterday his defense attorney David Axelrod issued a written statement which continued in the same vein:

“Speaker Rosenberger and I are cooperating with authorities. We previously offered to provide the material sought today by warrant, and today voluntarily provided additional material not covered by the warrant. Speaker Rosenberger has also complied with a requirement to file legal disclosure forms regarding gifts, meals and travel. Speaker Rosenberger has acted lawfully and ethically and looks forward to a positive resolution of the matter.”

According to the Dayton Daily News, payday loan representatives accompanied Rosenberger on four foreign trips, and partially paid for one to London in August of 2017. Perhaps it was only a coincidence, but a bill that would have imposed sweeping reforms on the payday loan industry, HB123, then stalled under Rosenberger’s leadership.
Since Rosenberger’s departure the bill has again been stalled. A squabble has erupted among Republicans about who should replace Rosenberger as speaker, and no new legislation can be passed until a speaker is appointed.
Currently Speaker Rosenberger is not yet charged with, let alone convicted of any wrongdoing. If he wants to resume his once-high-flying political career, however, the cloud of suspicion will need to be removed from above his head very quickly.

 

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