Impeachment Articles Against DeWine Draw Bipartisan Rebuke

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Rep. John Becker has introduced articles of impeachment against Gov. Mike DeWine, but is already facing resistance from both sides of the aisle.

Becker, R-65 Union Township, cited the governor’s “abuses of power” during the coronavirus pandemic, such as “arbitrarily closing certain businesses,” the statewide mask mandate and meddling in the conduct of the presidential primary election. 

He also pointed to DeWine’s veto of Senate Bill 55, which would lower fines for those caught breaking health department orders, as well as his threats to veto Senate Bill 1 that would require Ohio Department of Health orders lasting more than 14 days to be reviewed by a newly created committee and House Bill 618, which would limit the authority of the governor and Department of Health to issue order regarding contagious diseases. Becker sponsored both bills.

“Due to the unilateral actions of Gov. DeWine, a growing number of businesses have failed and continue to fail. Millions of frustrated, exasperated, and suffering Ohioans are relying on the General Assembly to take control and end their government-driven affliction,” Becker said in a statement. “Gubernatorial recall elections are not permitted in Ohio and removal by complaint is too arduous and impractical for the citizenry to navigate as a process for taking back their government. The only other option is impeachment.”

Not long after Becker issued his statement, both the Ohio Republican Party and Ohio Democratic Party denounced the move. In a statement, ORP Chairwoman Jane Timken called the introduction of the articles “despicable.”

“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,” she said. “Ohio and the world have witnessed an unprecedented global pandemic – one that Gov. 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.” 

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper denounced the GOP for trying to impeach DeWine while not removing former Speaker of the House Larry Householder after the revelation that he used his position to push a billion-dollar bailout of two FirstEnergy nuclear power plants. Householder was unanimously voted out of his position as speaker, but was not removed from office.

“Republican extremists at the Statehouse relentlessly attacked Dr. Amy Acton, until she finally stepped down,” Pepper said. “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.”

A spokesman for DeWine said the governor is focused on mitigating the impact of the pandemic, both on lives and the economy.

“That is what he is focused on. Not this,” said DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney to the Associated Press

To be impeached, the bill would require a majority of votes (50) in the Ohio House of Representatives and a two-thirds majority (22) in the Ohio Senate. 

A website created to support the impeachment effort lists state Reps. Nino Vitale, R-85 Urbana, and Paul Zeltwanger, R-54 Mason, as the bill’s only supporters. Both have been critics of DeWine and the mask mandate.

The new Speaker of the House, Republican Rep. Bob Cupp of Lima, did not say whether or not he supported the impeachment articles, but said via a spokeswoman he was dissatisfied with the public health orders.

“The Speaker shares the concerns of many members of the caucus regarding executive branch overreach, in particular with respect to some of the health orders that have been issued, and he has voiced those concerns directly to the governor,” said Taylor Jach.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Pictured: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks about his plans for the coming year during an interview at the Governor’s Residence in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.