Chrissie Thompson reports:
Remember when Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, called for the resignation of indicted Rep. Pete Beck, R-Mason?
Well, that was just a suggestion, Batchelder said Tuesday.
“I don’t think I really asked him to resign. I suggested he should consider that in view of his family. (Trials) are horrible things to go through,” Batchelder told the Dix newspaper chain’s Ohio Capital Blog in this video. “It’s up to him. … I don’t know of the validity of these charges.”
Beck’s resignation was always up to him. In July, he was charged with fraud stemming from allegations that he helped bilk business investors of $200,000, but his attorney says he will stay in his job.
When the charges were filed, Batchelder said Beck should resign.
“Given the serious nature of the charges facing Representative Beck, it is my belief that it is in the best interest of the Ohio House, the people of his district, and his family for him to resign from the Ohio House,” Batchelder said in a July 19 statement. “It is of the utmost importance that members of this sacred institution protect the public’s trust and be a voice for their district.
“While there is always a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, it is my belief that these very serious allegations could cause a distraction to the good work of the Ohio House of Representatives.”
Beck’s job as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee is up to Batchelder, who is apparently leaning toward letting Beck keep the position.
“I’ve made that offer to him,” Batchelder said of taking away the chairmanship. “He tells me that there’s not a problem.”
Given the uncertainty of Beck’s guilt, Batchelder said, the General Assembly can’t remove him from office.
“This is not anything that we can do anything about. This is not a complaint in front of the ethics committee … of the Assembly,” he said. “It’s quite different with people who have done things that are clearly criminal.”
Batchelder’s spokesman did not immediately respond to The Enquirer’s request for comment. Beck repeatedly has declined to comment on the allegations and did not immediately respond to a reporter’s call this afternoon.
Beck 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 Christopher Technologies.
The charges say executives, including Beck, knew CTech was insolvent and did not disclose it. Instead, they deceived investors and used the money for other purposes.
Judge for yourself: Did Batchelder ask Beck to resign? Read the statement here.