Indicted Rep. Pete Beck, R-Mason, has received a spot on a summer tax-reform committee less than two weeks after the Ohio House speaker called for Beck’s resignation from the General Assembly.
Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, called for Beck to step down after he was charged with fraud and theft stemming from allegations that he helped bilk business investors of $200,000.
But Beck has so far declined to resign and plans to continue to hold his seat. He requested a spot on the committee before his indictment, said Batchelder’s spokesman, Mike Dittoe.
Batchelder still thinks Beck should resign and could have denied him the spot on the committee. The speaker decided not to do that in part because membership on the summer study committees is voluntary and unpaid and only involves hearing testimony, not voting on legislation, Dittoe said.
“Every member of the House, Republican or Democrat, who asked to be put on a committee was granted that request,” Dittoe said Tuesday.
Beck also currently serves as chairman of the tax-related House Ways and Means Committee, a paid position he received from Batchelder days after the fraud allegations originally surfaced in a Hamilton County lawsuit.
That committee is taking a summer break, but Batchelder could remove Beck’s chairmanship. “If there is action to be taken on the standing committees, I assume the speaker would take that prior to their next committee meeting,” Dittoe said.
Beck’s attorney, Konrad Kircher, has said Beck can represent Southwest Ohioans while fighting the charges, which he says are unfounded.
As for serving on the tax reform study committee, “He probably will. It’s business as usual as far as he or I are concerned,” Kircher told The Enquirer Tuesday.
Beck did not return a call for comment.
The Mason state representative could face up to 102 years in prison if he is convicted on all 16 felony counts. They involve Beck’s business dealings in a West Chester startup software company called CTech, or Christopher Technologies.
The charges say Beck, who was chief financial officer, and John Fussner, a Mason man who was president, knew CTech was insolvent and did not disclose it to investors. Instead, they deceived investors to keep CTech afloat and used their money for other purposes.
Sheila McLaughlin contributed to this report.