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GOP House bill would change public corruption jurisdiction

June 24, 2021 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Prosecution of public corruption charges against state lawmakers and state officeholders would no longer be handled by the Ohio prosecutor with jurisdiction over the Statehouse in Columbus, but would instead go to prosecutors in the officials’ home districts, under a pending Republican bill.

Sponsoring Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati said the legislation has been in the works for years following what he called politically motivated prosecutions of elected GOP officials by a Democrat prosecutor in the Texas capital, Gongwer News Service reported.

Current law allows the Franklin County Prosecutor in central Ohio to investigate charges of wrongdoing by state lawmakers regardless of which district in Ohio they represent. Lawmakers would have to petition to have their charges heard in Columbus under the bill; otherwise the case would be heard in their home counties.

Democratic lawmakers say Seitz’ bill itself is politically motivated, arguing that it’s only now being pushed after a Democrat won the prosecutor’s office in Columbus after decades of Republican control.

The House Civil Justice Committee approved the measure Tuesday.