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FBI alleges bribes, extortion by ex-Ohio House speaker

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Federal investigators seized records from former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s office earlier this year as part of a federal criminal investigation into potential bribes and kickbacks surrounding payday lending legislation.

Documents show U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman sought three boxes and a thumb drive that investigators believe contain evidence of extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, attempt to commit extortion and bribery.

Former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s home and a nearby storage unit was searched in May as part of an investigation (WSYX/WTE)

Investigators also sought documentation of Rosenberger’s travels and communications with payday industry lobbyists Stephen Dimon Jr. and Leslie Gaines, and Carol Stewart, senior vice president of the payday lending company Advance America.

House Democrats were quick to criticize Rosenberger and fellow Republicans. Representative David Leland (D-Columbus) said release of the search warrant leads to more questions than answers and he wonders how far the investigation will go.

“I don’t think he was the only one out of all the House members that was involved in this particular scandal,” Leland said.

His attorney has said Rosenberger has nothing to hide. In a statement, David Axelrod said, “We’ve learned nothing today that we haven’t known for months.”

“We caution against reading too much into the mere existence of this search warrant,” he said.

by Associated Press, Tom Bosco

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