Some right-wingers in the Ohio House of Representatives are rebelling against their Republican governor, Mike DeWine, and have drafted impeachment articles related to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 flattened, the Governor continues to press his boot on the throat of Ohio’s economy,” wrote Rep. John Becker (R), the lawmaker who is leading the charge, in a statement. “Due to the unilateral actions of Governor 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.”
He is being joined in his effort by some of the House’s most extreme Republicans, including Rep. Nino Vitale (R). Vitale has refused to wear a mask, claiming that it obscures “the image and likeness of God,” and was one of the main agitators against former state Health Department Director Amy Acton, using criticisms with anti-semitic implications against the Jewish official.
DeWine, who had a 75 percent approval rating as of late June, brushed off the intra-party attack.
“Governor DeWine is focused on saving lives during the pandemic,” his spokesperson Dan Tierney told TPM. “He is focused on helping the economy and getting Ohioans back to work. That is what he is focused on. Not this.”
DeWine likely has little to worry about. The hardliners would need to amass a majority in the House to impeach him, then two-thirds of the majority-Republican Senate would have to vote to remove him from office.
Becker told TPM that the effort has “three or four” cosponsors so far. “If the people of Ohio want to take back their government, then we will,” he added.
Based on a statement from House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D), the effort is lacking Democratic support.
“Instead of working to rebuild the public’s trust or calling the House back from summer recess to address the very real public health and economic crises Ohio currently faces by focusing on protecting small businesses and slowing the spread of COVID-19, Republicans continue to fight one another over political power,” she said. “Ohioans deserve better leadership and I hope Republicans re-focus their attention towards the struggling Ohioans who need them to serve instead of enriching and promoting themselves.”
Becker used the articles to impugn various aspects of DeWine’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are 10 articles, all told, and they are expansive. Many accuse the governor of unlawful executive overreach by delaying the March primary or allowing the Health Department to issue orders “outside the scope of its authority for administering legislation.” One asserts that he is inflicting “irreversible economic hardship” on Ohioans by closing down various businesses. Another accuses him of “incompetence” for providing “wildly inaccurate forecasts” and sharing “misleading COVID data.” Multiple articles focus on his mask orders, asserting that he is “violating civil liberties” by mandating their usage.
While the charges may seem excessive to some, especially as DeWine has gotten high marks on his pandemic response even from President Donald Trump, to the most extreme members, they still fall short.
“Articles of impeachment do not go far enough for me,” Vitale wrote on Facebook. “While it’s a good step, Dictator DeWine needs to be charged and tried for crimes against humanity, in my opinion.”
Read the articles here:
This post has been updated.