A powerful Ohio lobbyist who spent decades at the center of many of the state’s significant policy battles was found dead in Florida as he faced charges in a sweeping federal bribery investigation, authorities said.
Neil Clark, 67, was found dead Monday by a bicyclist in an isolated area of Collier County, Florida, where he had been living. He was tied up in a massive bribery scandal involving a Republican politician by the name of Larry Householder, who was the former Speaker of the House in Ohio.
The two men were arrested and both pled ‘not guilty’ in a wild bribery scheme funded by an energy company.
Here’s what authorities say happened:
Prosecutors say Householder and Clark played a role in a scheme to pass a law called ‘HB6,’ which bailed out two Ohio power plants owned by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary. The money flowed through political groups and bought campaign advertising, hired consultants, and funded other means to help Householder gain his leadership position and push for HB6 to become law, according to charging documents.
As a result of this investigation, Clark was arrested last year and charged with racketeering.
Was he about to flip? Was he going to try and save himself and implicate others?
Report from Cleaveland.com:
Police believe that a longtime Columbus lobbyist charged in connection with the House Bill 6 probe who died earlier this week took his own life, officials said on Thursday.
Michelle Batten, a spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, said the Collier County Medical Examiner’s Office will make the final determination on the cause of death. But investigators are treating Neil Clark’s death as an apparent suicide and don’t suspect foul play was involved, she said.
The sheriff’s office also on Thursday released a new version of an incident report documenting their initial investigation into Clark’s death. They previously released the report on Tuesday, but it was heavily redacted.
The report says police found Clark, 67, around 11:30 a.m. on Monday lying on the ground about 400 feet off the roadway, and about 350 feet from his vehicle, near the brush line by a retention pond in the area close to his home in Naples, Florida. A passerby who called police said that Clark appeared to be “beyond help.”
Police say that when they found Clark’s body he had a single gunshot wound to his head and a handgun was recovered near the body.
Seems odd that he’d kill himself on the side of a road, but I guess anything is possible, especially if he was worried about going to prison for this “racketeering” charge.
He also may not have wanted his family to find his body.
However, this still has a big air of suspicion around it, especially if he was such an intricate player in such a major scandal involving lots of money and some very powerful people.