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Ohio Republican Lawmakers Seek To Change Where State Leaders Can Be Prosecuted

The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.
Ryan Hitchcock
The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.

One of the biggest corruption cases in the nation is happening right here in Ohio. Federal prosecutors are going after the former speaker of the Ohio House and the former head of the Ohio Republican Party, along with others, for federal crimes. But if there are crimes that occurred at the state-level, those could be affected by an amendment that has been slipped into a bill at the Statehouse.

The amendment would allow lawmakers to choose to be prosecuted in their home county, instead of giving the Franklin County prosecutor sole authority.

Most of the state-level crimes committed by Ohio's leaders are prosecuted in Franklin County. However, after more than six decades, a Democrat now serves as the prosecutor.

Democratic State Rep David Leland (D-Columbus) said that's why majority Republicans have quietly attached an amendment to an unrelated bill (HB286) that would change where state leaders are prosecuted.

"This is Republicans circling the wagons, seeing the corruption that's happening, in the Statehouse and Franklin County and deciding they need protection. They need the home-court advantage. They want to move this out to local, smaller counties which may not have the expertise or interest in pursuing these public corruption cases," Leland said.

Leland said he intends to fight the change. 

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.