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State Rep. John Becker files articles of impeachment against Gov. Mike DeWine over COVID-19 response

Mike DeWine and John Becker
Mike DeWine
Posted at 11:28 AM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 19:19:52-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — House Republicans, led by State Representative John Becker (R-Union Township, Clermont County), announced Monday that they have drafted articles of impeachment against Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in regards to his COVID-19 response, which the state rep. described as “abuses of power,” despite the governor’s recent all-time high approval rating.

Becker drafted 10 articles of impeachment against DeWine, stating the governor “has violated the Ohio and United States Constitutions, as well as multiple sections of the Ohio Revised Code.”

The violations, Becker said, stem from closing in-person polling during the primary election while allowing other businesses to remain open, and the mask mandate.

In his announcement, Becker expressed disdain for the face mask mandate DeWine ordered in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio as cases began to surge across the state in July. The state rep claimed that forcing Ohioans to wear a face mask or covering as a condition of employment makes “Ohio a hostile work environment.” He went on to say “many Ohioans find the mask mandate offensive, degrading, humiliating, and insulting.”

Becker made the following statement regarding his efforts to impeach DeWine:

I kept holding out hope that we wouldn’t get to this place. For months and months, I’ve been hearing the cries of my constituents and of suffering people from every corner of Ohio. They keep screaming, “DO SOMETHING!” They are hurting. Their businesses are declining and depreciating. Their jobs have vanished. The communities that have sustained their lives are collapsing, and becoming shells of what they once were.

Living in fear, many have turned to drugs and yes, even suicide, to end or tolerate the unbearable pain inflicted by the governor upon their livelihoods, and the damage caused by his unraveling of the fabric of Ohio. It is long past time to put an end to government gone wild.

With deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 flattened, the Governor continues to press his boot on the throat of Ohio’s economy. 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.

The attempt to impeach DeWine comes just two months after the Quinnipiac University Poll of Ohioansfound the governor had a record-high approval rating with 75% of voters saying they approved of the job he was doing. When it came to his response to COVID-19, DeWine received more high marks, with 77% of voters approving of his handling of the virus in Ohio.

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) responded to the articles of impeachment filed against DeWine Monday, and said the “Republican dysfunction has reached a new low.”

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.

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.

Political analyst Tom Sutton said it will be difficult for lawmakers to argue that any of DeWine’s steps in handling the pandemic were unlawful.

“Extreme measures the governor is using to try and manage the COVID-19 crisis like many other governors across the country,” Sutton said. “This is clearly a public health issue that involves literally matters of life and death. And it’s those kinds of situations where governors will use those powers.”

The articles of impeachment will require a majority vote in the Ohio House of Representatives followed by a two-thirds majority vote in the Ohio Senate in order for DeWine to be convicted and removed from office.

Sutton told News 5 he doubts the measures to impeach DeWine will ever make it past the House floor.

“It’s highly unlikely it will get that far. I think the majority of Republican lawmakers and likely most of the Democrats are opposed to this,” Sutton said. “Even if there is a vote, it won’t be the majority that’s needed to move it to the Senate, and a two-thirds majority Senate for conviction - I really don’t see that happening at all.”

District 12 Representative Juanita Brent called the latest moves from her colleagues a distraction.

“They’re trying to use this as a political ploy during the election season to help them garner more votes to a certain base of people,” Brent said. “And it’s just a distraction to what’s the real issues.”

Members of the statehouse are currently on recess but will likely be back in session next week.

“I’m literally sitting at home right now in my living room when I should be in Columbus working hard on behalf of the people,” Brent said. “If they really want to work effectively, these same representatives who are trying to impeach the Governor will also be asking the Speaker to bring us back in session so we can work on issues to better help all Ohioans.”

Brent said she hopes unemployment issues take precedent over the articles of impeachment.

“You can’t tell me that somebody who just lost their job and hasn’t received their first unemployment check is telling themselves, ‘I need to impeach the Governor.’ They’re worried about the quality of life right now,” Brent said.

A spokesperson for Governor Mike DeWine told News 5 the governor is choosing not to focus on the latest attack.

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.