For the first time in more than a century, Ohio state lawmakers have drafted articles of impeachment against a sitting governor. And it's a Republican representative targeting a fellow member of the GOP.
Conservative Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) is putting forward a resolution to impeach Gov. Mike DeWine over the state’s response to coronavirus. He's been joined by three other co-sponsors: Reps. Candice Keller (R-Middletown), Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) and Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason).
Becker said DeWine has committed "a usurpation of power" in both the state and federal constitutions with several actions, including the delaying of the primary in March just hours before in-person voting was to begin, and the shutdown of businesses with the March “stay at home” order. But Becker said it goes beyond that.
"The governor is not working with the General Assembly," Becker said. "He is, you know, some would say 'governor gone wild' and he needs to be stopped. And the people of Ohio are demanding that he be stopped. And we can't seem to stop him with legislation because he keeps vetoing it. Well, it only takes a simple majority to to get an impeachment resolution through the House. So that's why we have finally gotten to this point."
DeWine has been criticized by several members of the House, including former Speaker Larry Householder, who said the GOP caucus felt "disrespected that their opinions have been largely disregarded by the Administration" in DeWine's reopening plans. The members of a task force that pushed for businesses to reopen also raised concerns about the speed of reopening. And some have been vocal in their opinions of DeWine's orders - one calling former Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton "a dictator".
Some Republican lawmakers have also championed bills to require lawmakers vote to extend public health orders after 14 days, a plan to require written permission for contact tracing, and a measure that its sponsor said would require the state and local health departments to change the types of coronavirus data they collect. DeWine's first non-budget veto was on a bill that would lower the fines for violating orders issued by him, his health director or local health departments. The bill did not pass by a veto-proof majority.
While Becker said only a simple majority is needed to get the resolution through the House, he admitted that the votes aren't there right now. But he said: "We're going to find out how engaged the people are going to be contacting their state representatives and ratcheting up the pressure that the people put enough pressure on their state representatives will have the votes. So it's up to the public."
A Quinnipiac poll in June showed DeWine's approval rating at an all-time high of 75%.
DeWine’s spokesman said in a statement: “Governor DeWine is focused on saving lives during the pandemic. He is focused on helping the economy and getting Ohioans back to work. That is what he is focused on. Not this.”
Details on Becker’s proposal at http://impeachdewine.com.