After facing criticism from members of his own party for delaying his exit, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger decided Thursday to resign effective immediately.
Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, announced his resignation Tuesday night, but he had not planned to formally step down until May 1.
But some, including fellow Republicans Attorney General Mike DeWine and Auditor Dave Yost, called for him to step aside immediately rather than wait.
Rosenberger resigned after it became known that the FBI was asking questions regarding overseas trips he took last year. The now-former speaker has said he has not been contacted directly by the FBI and thinks he will be completely vindicated.
He said he resigned for the good of the institution.
The move means Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, formally takes over as interim speaker. He will serve in that role until the caucus elects a new House speaker. That could be Schuring, although he is running his own campaign for the state Senate, or one of the two rivals who already were involved in a rancorous competition to succeed Rosenberger next year: Finance Committee Chairman Ryan Smith of Bidwell and former Speaker Larry Householder of Glenford.
The Ohio Democratic Party and one of its candidates for governor, former Attorney General Richard Cordray, joined the Republicans in calling for the embattled leader to depart the Statehouse without delay as he faces the FBI inquiry.
"There’s a lot of important work that the legislature needs to get done," DeWine said Wednesday. "The speaker has acknowledged that his presence is a distraction. It is best if he left now, so that the work of the people is not inhibited."
DeWine called Rosenberger on Friday night to advise him to quit if he had committed wrongdoing, but DeWine said the speaker told him he had done nothing wrong.
Yost, a candidate for attorney general, said Wednesday, "Speaker Rosenberger should step down immediately. He made the right decision to resign — but if it’s right on May 1, it’s right today. The same rationale applies, and there is no cause to delay."
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, running against DeWine in the GOP gubernatorial primary, said Wednesday, "The people of Ohio are best served by Speaker Rosenberger’s immediate resignation. They also deserve a full accounting of what Mike DeWine knew about this situation and when he knew it, why he called the speaker on Friday, and what exactly was said."
Thursday, she tweeted: "The gall of career politicians like Mike DeWine to interfere with a FBI investigation into one of his cronies would be astonishing if it wasn’t so commonplace in the good old boy Swamp that our Statehouse has become of late."