Roughly a decade ago, the late Bill Horne sat in my office on West Main Street in Hillsboro. He was running for state representative as a Democrat in a solidly Republican district. He had a phone call. He took the call.

When the call ended, he said someone representing someone or something he didn't know wanted to offer a significant contribution to his political campaign. Bill told me he had asked what would be expected as a return on that investment. Knowing the answer was undoubtedly a quid pro quo (a favor granted or expected in return for something), Bill rejected the campaign cash.

Of course, history will show that Bill's only campaign for state rep that was a win was in a Democrat primary against a former Hillsboro assistant to the city law director. Bill laughed that even his own party backed the wrong horse that time. Bill never could get past the Republican machine.

But one thing about Bill. No one could ever accuse him of being the piano player in a Wild West house of ill repute, totally oblivious to what was going on in the upstairs bedrooms at the Long Branch in Dodge.

Last week, on July 21, we learned that Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, 61, a Glenford Republican, was arrested, along with Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley, a lobbyist who previously served as chair of the Ohio Republican Party; Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus, Householder’s longtime campaign and political strategist; Neil Clark, 67, of Columbus, a lobbyist who owns and operates Grant Street Consultants and previously served as budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus; and Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus, a multi-client lobbyist.

In the past week, various and sundry Republicans – slowly, but surely – have started calling for Householder's resignation as Ohio House talker.

The calls have come from notables such as Sen. Rob Portman, Gov. Mike DeWine, AG Dave Yost, Auditor Keith Faber and even erstwhile Householder loyalist Highland County's Shane Wilkin.

That's all well and good. No doubt, Householder should resign – unless he has a team of attorneys comparable to O.J. Simpson's legal eagles or he has the insight and gravitas to turn this case 180 degrees against the Feds. (Could be.)

Before this is all said and done, though, Householder may not be the only one asked to resign.

Andrew J. Tobias, writing for, has put together a list of "Team Householder" members and the candidates Householder recruited to help him become Ohio House talker.

Tobias also lists the money these candidates accepted. I'm hesitant to add "for their loyal support and cooperation," but reasonable minds understand.

Of the current Republican state lawmakers Householder helped get into office in 2018, most if not all, voted for him for speaker. They have not been implicated in the federal charges last week.

For full disclosure, of the "Team Householder" politicians, there are at least two who I either endorsed or contributed campaign money. I think there are only two. I sent a check to and wrote a column of endorsement for State Rep. Brian Baldridge of Adams County. I also endorsed Wilkin.

By alphabetical order, Baldridge and Wilkin are the alpha and the omega of "Team Householder." That's nothing to put on one's resumé, in my opinion.

According to the report, Baldridge received $11,000 from the FirstEnergy PAC before the primary election and another $2,000 before the general election. Householder gave him $25,415. Sweet. No questions asked?

Baldridge voted for House Bill 6, which Wilkin cosponsored.

Householder strongly supported Wilkin over Beth Ellis in a GOP primary.

FirstEnergy donated $13,000 to Wilkin's campaign. Householder gave him another $10,207. Sweet. No questions asked?

Wilkin co-sponsored House Bill 6.

To be sure, these are not the only dubious donations. Another fine coal energy magnate from Miami Beach offered a generous $10,000 to Wilkin, which he accepted.

Thus far, those who have sponsored, championed and voted for House Bill 6 insist that it was good legislation. The underlying question is: For whom?

DeWine, who initially stuck with HB 6, which he quickly signed, in a moment of clarity last week, said "the process by which it was created is terrible. It stinks. I ask the Legislature to repeal and replace House Bill 6 through an open process the public can have full confidence in."

That's a shocker. Electrifying, actually.

DeWine has pledged to give any campaign cash related to HB 6 to charity. Other politicians ought to do the same.

Wilkin sort of agreed with DeWine and sort of shifted back toward his roots on HB 6. "It’s good energy policy for Ohio consumers, and according to the Legislative Service Commission, will save Ohioans $2.3 billion."

If the Legislative Service Commission would like to submit its unwavering support for House Bill 6 and the process that created it, I'd love to hear from them.

“If the Legislature decides to repeal House Bill 6 because of the way Larry Householder handled it, I understand," Wilkin said, "but it should be immediately replaced with a measure advancing the same core principles that help Ohioans.”

Sometimes when one is in a hole, it's best to stop digging.

Bill Horne never made it to the House of Representatives, but he never played piano in a flophouse, either.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.