While the Ohio House is at the center of an FBI investigation, some of its most conservative members are moving to impeach Gov. Mike DeWine over how he has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
Three Southwest Ohio Republican state representatives — Nino Vitale of Urbana, John Becker of Union Twp., and Paul Zeltwanger of Mason — are co-sponsoring the measure, according to a new website, ImpeachDeWine.com.
In a lengthy statement, Becker blamed the governor for the economic meltdown and said his constituents are demanding action.
“Living in fear, many have turned to drugs and yes, even suicide, to end or tolerate the unbearable pain inflicted by the governor upon their livelihoods, and the damage caused by his unraveling of the fabric of Ohio. It is long past time to put an end to government gone wild,” Becker’s statement says in part.
“Gov. DeWine is focused on saving lives during the pandemic. He is focused on helping the economy and getting Ohioans back to work,” said DeWine Press Secretary Dan Tierney. “That is what he is focused on. Not this.”
The impeachment has little chance of winning approval in both legislative chambers and removing DeWine from office. The Ohio House would have to approve articles of impeachment and the Senate would hold a trial.
The impeachment move drew immediate rebukes from leaders of both state political parties.
“It is despicable that anyone who considers themself to be conservative would make an attempt to impeach Governor DeWine. In a time of harsh political division, and an important election year, Republicans should be united. Ohio and the world have witnessed an unprecedented global pandemic — one that Governor DeWine has done a great job at leading us through. The attack by John Becker and his allies is a baseless, feeble attempt at creating attention for themselves, and it shifts the focus away from what should be the top priority for real Republicans: re-electing President Trump,” said Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken in a written statement.
“Republican extremists at the Statehouse relentlessly attacked Dr. Amy Acton, until she finally stepped down,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper in a written statement. “Not content with extracting their pound of flesh from Dr. Acton, they’re now turning their fire on Mike DeWine. This comes after they rejected Democratic calls to remove their Republican colleague Larry Householder from the legislature after he was indicted for corruption and bribery. The Ohio GOP’s message to voters is clear — corruption and bribery are A-OK with us, but having the audacity to listen to public health experts during a global pandemic is an impeachable offense.”
State Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, was removed as House speaker after he was indicted on a federal racketeering charge. He and four other men are accused in a $60 million bribery scheme to elect pro-Householder legislators, position Householder to return as House speaker and then pass and defend a $1.3 billion bailout bill to help Akron-based First Energy Solutions, which is now called Harbor Energy.
While the House voted to strip Householder of his leadership post, he remains a state representative and is running unopposed for re-election. Under the state constitution, a member may be ejected on a two-thirds majority vote but only once.