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Cleveland-area lawmaker's hostile behavior justified legislative punishments, report concludes

Elliot Forhan represents House District 21, which is in Cuyahoga County.
OhioHouse.gov
Elliot Forhan represents House District 21, which is in Cuyahoga County.

An independent state-ordered investigation has concluded that Ohio legislative leaders were justified in disciplining a Cleveland-area lawmaker who was removed by House Democratic leadership from committees and banned from contacting staff following an alleged pattern of “erratic and abusive behavior.”

The investigation found numerous witnesses corroborated accusations of Democratic Rep. Elliot Forhan’s behavior during the past year, including confrontations with other lawmakers, constituents, and lobbyists. The probe, requested by the leaders, was conducted by a Columbus law firm appointed by Republican Attorney General Dave Yost.

In response to the allegations, Forhan lost all of his committee assignments last November and was barred by House Minority Leader C. Allison Russo from contacting interns, pages and Democratic legislative aides. He also was required to have a House sergeant-at-arms accompany him while he was at the Statehouse.

The report states Forhan has repeatedly failed to comply with the latter provision, showed up at the Statehouse and a nearby legislative office building unannounced, and yelled at the sergeant-at-arms or one of his assistants at least twice.

Forhan's behavior, if left unaddressed, would have posed “a significant threat to the institutional integrity of the Ohio House and its reputation, and posed a credible risk of escalating to violence or violent conduct," the report concluded. However, it also stated that Forhan’s actions to date “do not warrant his removal from office,”

Forhan told Cleveland.com that the investigation was a “sham" that does not show his actions rose to “violence or violent conduct,” but just states that there could be at some future time, a contention he also disagreed with.

Forhan was elected to his first term in 2022 but was defeated in the Democratic primary last month, finishing third overall. His term will expire at year's end.

The Associated Press