Former State Speaker Will Not Face Charges As Yearslong Investigation Is Closed, Feds Say

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John Oyewale Contributor
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Federal authorities closed a six-year federal criminal investigation into a former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and would not press charges against him, according to multiple reports.

Kenneth Parker, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio said “extremely unique facts and circumstances” informed the closure of a federal probe into Republican Wilmington ex-Rep. Cliff Rosenberger’s travel and spending practices while in office, the Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday. There was no further explanation, the report stated.

“I cannot express my gratitude to all of my family and friends that stood by me over the last six years,” Rosenberger reportedly told the AP. “It feels so good to finally be vindicated of all charges.”

Rosenberger resigned as Ohio House speaker Apr. 12, 2018, under a cloud as federal investigators began investigating his travel records and expenses for possible evidence of bribery from payday-lending industry lobbyists, reported. The investigators also later searched Rosenberger’s residence and the House offices in Columbus, the report revealed.

Rosenberger protested his innocence through his attorney, David Axelrod. (RELATED: Watchdog Group Demands Investigation Into Foreign Billionaire’s US Political Spending)

Legislation restricting the payday-lending industry in Ohio had been pending while Rosenberger was in office but passed weeks after his abrupt resignation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had sought correspondence regarding the legislation as it launched its investigation into Rosenberger’s suspected relationship with the industry, according to the report.

Rosenberger traveled to London with Carol Stewart—an executive at the short-term lender Advance America—and Stephen Dimon and Leslie Gaines—both lobbyists for the auto title loan company Select Management Resources (SMR), back in August 2017, the outlet further reported. SMR’s chief executive officer Rod Aycox, his wife and other family in Georgia donated $87,500 to Republican candidates in Wisconsin between 2008 and 2018, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester also made the same work trip, which the pro-Republican nonprofit GOPAC Education Fund sponsored, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel separately reported. Wisconsin ethics laws reportedly generally prohibit legislators from accepting valuable gifts but permit sponsorship for work travel. Vos remains Wisconsin’s Speaker.

Largely out of the limelight since his resignation, Rosenberger reemerged in 2021 renouncing his membership of the Republican Party over its ties to former President Donald Trump, reported. Rosenberger resurfaced earlier in May for the unveiling of his official portrait honoring his position as a former House speaker.