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 Tuesday.
Neil Clark, 67, was found dead Tuesday March 16 2021 by a bicyclist in an isolated area of Collier County, Florida, where he had been living. The cause of death wasn't determined, but a medical investigation and an autopsy were being performed.
When officials reached out to the man’s wife, she said that the couple was having financial issues and that she had not heard from her husband for a couple of hours
Clark had pleaded not guilty to the role federal prosecutors allege he played in an elaborate $60 million scheme led by then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to pass legislation containing a $1 billion bailout for two Ohio nuclear power plants. Clark had denied all wrongdoing.
Clark was a larger-than-life figure at the Ohio Statehouse, where he often represented clients during their toughest legislative and public relations battles.
He fielded media calls for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, for example, as the now-shuttered online charter school wrestled with allegations of attendance tracking errors. Clark also lobbied for some payday lending interests before that industry became the center of a previous House speaker's downfall.
He had said he was writing a tell-all book about his time at the Statehouse.
Before becoming a lobbyist, Clark was an aide and finance director for the Ohio Senate Republicans. Clark parlayed his Senate work into an advertising and communications business and eventually a powerhouse bipartisan lobbying partnership with Paul Tipps, a former Ohio Democratic Party chairman who died in 2015.
The pair formed State Street Consultants in 1999, which grew into the largest government affairs consulting firm in Ohio.