It’s been a rough few days for the self-declared governor of Ohio.
Renea Turner, a write-in candidate for the office in 2018 and a right-wing activist against COVID-19 public health restrictions, declared herself the state’s new executive in a ceremony Thursday only to discover the next morning that she was the subject of a state highway patrol investigation.
The probe appears to be the result of a police report submitted by an as yet-unidentified Miami County resident who claimed Turner was set on arresting the man she believes is her predecessor, actual Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R). DeWine has faced harsh criticisms from the right for his public health restrictions meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Turner did not respond to TPM’s request for comment — and no charges have been filed against her — but she has denied that she ever had her sights set on kidnapping or otherwise performing a citizen’s arrest of DeWine. At a press conference Monday, she said that she simply wanted to issue a declaration removing him from office while he was at his home, Ohio Capital Journal’s Tyler Buchanan reported.
In an interview with cleveland.com Friday, Turner called the person that reported her “a dingbat” and said she’d received a visit from the state’s highway patrol that morning. One trooper “said he was just there to check out my temperament and what my plans are,” she said.
The Capital Journal broke the news of the Miami County resident’s police report on Friday. During his conversation with Turner, the unidentified person alleged in the police report, she said “we the people, we’re going to arrest [DeWine].”
This person was sympathetic to the idea that DeWine’s COVID-19 restrictions were criminal, but thought Turner may take things a step too far, the Capital Journal reported.
“Do I think [DeWine] needs to be arrested? Absolutely,” the person told the Capital Journal. “But all that needs to happen within the confines of the law.”
Local police in Piqua, Ohio went to Ohio State Highway Patrol with the report. An OSHP spokesperson confirmed to TPM Monday that “we were made aware of the information reported to the Piqua Police Department on the allegations and are currently investigating the incident.”
Turner is part of a small movement of Ohioans, including state Rep. John Becker (R), who’ve sought out prosecutors and judges willing to entertain the idea of arresting the actual governor for his handling of the pandemic.
Becker said in a YouTube video on Oct. 19 that he’d heard about someone preparing to perform a citizen’s arrest of the governor. He called the idea “incredibly stupid” and in a separate video two days later applauded the unnamed person who alerted authorities to the alleged plot.
“The plan was — and this is what gets scary — they were planning to arrest the governor at his home, put him on trial for tyranny, and with the potential penalty for that being either execution or exile,” Becker said.
Becker subsequently acknowledged to the Capital Journal that he’d met with Turner just a few weeks ago.
Turner, Becker recalled, spoke about trying to find a county sheriff willing to make the arrest. Then she asked what the lawmaker called a “strange question” — whether the governor’s personal residence constituted public property.
Becker took the question to the state’s Legislative Service Commission, the Capital Journal reported, which confirmed that the governor’s home is a private residence. He passed the information along to Turner, he said, but didn’t hear from her again.
For his part, Gov. DeWine has said he was unaware of Turner’s activities.
“We have people in every state who believe that they can take the law into their own hands,” the governor said Friday.
“We have people who believe the government’s illegitimate and they have every right to go and basically overthrow the government in one form or the other. I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to denounce that and say that’s wrong.”