Sunday, September 17, 2000

Heavy tactics anger foes

By Debra Jasper
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        When State Rep. Larry Householder started raising money for Republican candidates this year, he didn't just tell contributors who to give money to — he handed them a list specifying in what order.

        Other House leaders have long directed donations to targeted candidates but no one had ever handed out an A and B and C list.

        Once it started circulating, Mr. Householder drew immediate fire.

        Critics, including Democrats and some legislators, say the list illustrates that the Perry County legislator is too heavy handed. They say he is also tied too closely to special interest groups and lobbyists such as Neil Clark, who is considered one of the most powerful players in the Statehouse.

        “(Mr. Householder) went to Columbus, sat around in restaurants collecting checks and figuring out how to be one of the insiders,” said Susan Gwinn, chairman of the Athens County Democratic Party. “For him to claim that doesn't affect him is ridiculous.”

        Ms. Qwinn said Mr. Householder's opponent in his legislative race plans to make his connections to lobbyists and power brokers an issue this fall. Voters should know that he is beholden to special interest groups, she said.

        Mr. Householder retorts that he owes no one, including Mr. Clark, a lobbyist who legislators such as as State Rep. Jeff Jacobson, R-Brookville, say is a very influential adviser to Mr. Householder.

        “When Larry started running for speaker, there weren't a lot of people willing to talk to him but Neil was somebody willing to be supportive,” he said.

        Mr. Clark said he has never exaggerated his relationship to Mr. Householder but the legislator — clearly mindful of his critics — disagrees with that assessment.

        “When you look at the Statehouse crowd, a lot of people are successful based purely on illusion,” he said. “Neil is a good example. I don't want to whack, whack, whack on Neil, but the illusion he is creating that we are close is just not real.”


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