Who was Neil S Clark? Ohio lobbyist who faced charges in $61M bribery case found dead after being shot in head
COLLIER COUNTY, FLORIDA: A probe has been launched into the death of Neil S Clark, whose body was found on Monday, March 15, outside his 2019 Lincoln in a wooded area. Clark was facing charges in an around $61 million bribery case. The 67-year-old’s remains were discovered by a passerby at around 11.30 am, an investigator for the Collier County medical examiner said. As per a preliminary report from the Collier County Sheriff’s office, the man accused of being involved in a bribery scheme was found with a handgun and a gunshot wound to the head.
In July 2020, Clark was arrested along with former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, political strategist Jeff Longstreth, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, and lobbyist Juan Cespedes. The men’s arrest came as they were alleged of handling a criminal enterprise that took nearly $61 million in dark money from Ohio utility companies to place Householder as a speaker. The deal also allegedly included passing and defending a $1.3 billion bailout law for the companies.
Clark had pleaded not guilty against the charges. At the time, a statement from FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman read, “All forms of public corruption are unacceptable. When the corruption is alleged to reach some of the highest levels of our state government, the citizens of Ohio should be shocked and appalled.”
After the death of Clark, acting US Attorney Vipal J Patel issued a statement that said, “In matters in which a defendant has passed away, the process is that a ‘Suggestion of Death’ is typically filed upon receipt of a death certificate, resulting in dismissal of the decedent from the case but not impacting the rest of the case. All that will be addressed in due course. For now, we extend our condolences to Mr Clark’s family and friends.”
Who was Neil S Clark?
Clark, who began his career in politics as a staffer for the Ohio Senate Republican caucus, was a popular person around the Ohio Statehouse. Being a multi-client lobbyist, he was often employed by businesses and organizations to press their agenda with state leaders. He used to call himself Householder's "hitman" who does the "dirty s**t".
“When (Householder’s) busy, I get complete say. When we’re working on stuff, if he says, ‘I’m busy,’ everyone knows. Neil has the final say, not Jeff (Longstreth.) Jeff is his implementer,” Clark was quoted as saying in the criminal complaint. However, after his arrest last year, he lost almost three dozen clients.
A obituary for Clark read, “Neil Scott Clark passed away suddenly March 15, 2021. His spirit left this earth to join his feisty mother, Nancy, and his loving stepfather, Roy Parker. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 30, 1953, Neil was known as ‘Scotty’ to family and childhood friends. Proud of his Sicilian roots, Neil used his street smarts and wit to survive poverty in inner city Cleveland.
“Employed by the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus in the early 1980s, he devoted countless hours to help Republicans gain the majority. He was amused by the nickname, ‘The 34th Senator’, for his efforts. Turning his passion to political consulting, Neil was a founding member of State Street Consultants, a premier lobbying firm. He later formed Grant Street Consultants, continuing to be a respected voice in politics.”
“He is survived by his loving and supportive wife, Colleen, whom he credited for making him a better man and for introducing him to healthier foods, something foreign to him. He cherished their time together, especially at the beach, and with their dogs CeCe and Demi, who appears in most family photos. Neil's greatest pride and joy are his surviving children, Mitchell Clark and Brittany Clark, who grew accustomed to meeting people who already knew all about them,” the obituary added.