Threats Against Two Democratic Lawmakers Bring Support, Investigation

May 27, 2020

An investigation is ongoing into threats targeting two sitting Democratic state lawmakers, a well-known senator from Akron who’s served in both chambers and his daughter, who leads the minority in the Ohio House. And some state leaders are speaking out.

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said the threats received by Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) and Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) are "disgusting".

Obhof said after talking to both of them this weekend, it was clear the threats were related to their duties as legislators.

“That is a pretty significant felony," Obhof said. "We have spoken to law enforcement, the Senate has, about those matters. They are being investigated.”

But he’s not sure if they’re related to the pandemic. However, there have been protests at the Statehouse featuring Republican candidates for office and people wearing hats and carrying signs supporting President Donald Trump, who has said the pandemic is a "Democratic hoax".

Obhof said he communicated a message to both lawmakers.

“Don’t let those people or their actions change who you are or what you believe or what you do," Obhof said. "I think we all here in the Senate stand with Sen. Sykes and with Rep. Sykes in solidarity.”

Obhof and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko condemned the threats in a statement.

So did Gov. Mike DeWine, calling the threats "wrong", "reprehensible" and "unconscionable".

No statement so far from Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, who was elected to that position with the help of Democrats led by Emilia Sykes.

On Wednesday, Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken tweeted out condemnation, writing that such threats of violence "is never acceptable and should not be tolerated."