State Rep. John Becker is leading the effort to try and oust DeWine from office, joined by Republican Reps. Nino Vitale, Candice Keller, and Paul Zeltwanger, who say the articles are part of an “effort to restore the rule of law” following DeWine’s pandemic response.
The articles of impeachment against the Republican governor accuse him of violating both the U.S. and state constitutions by abusing his power as governor through “arbitrarily” forcing certain businesses to close while letting other companies remain open and implementing a statewide mask mandate.
“Governor DeWine’s mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, abuse of power, and other crimes include, but are not limited to, meddling in the conduct of a presidential primary election, arbitrarily closing and placing curfews on certain businesses, while allowing other businesses to remain open,” Rep. Becker’s office said in a statement.
“He weaponized the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to bully and harass businesses and the people; to enforce a statewide mask mandate and other controversial measures of dubious ‘value,’ making Ohio a hostile work environment.”
The statement notes DeWine’s inclusion of places of worship in the shutdown orders. In September, DeWine signed a bill into law prohibiting the shutdown of houses of worship by local or state officials.
“Rather than hearing the cries of Ohioans, Governor DeWine continues to stifle those cries by finding more inventive ways to use masks to muffle the voices of the people,” Becker’s statement said. “He continues to have callous disregard for the fact that his isolation policies have led to a shockingly high number of suicides, alarming rates of drug abuse, persistently high unemployment, and the forced abandonment of the elderly by their loved ones.”
Becker in August said in a statement that his constituents have been hurting badly because of harsh restrictions put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impeaching the governor, who is in his first term, would require a majority, or 50 or more, votes in the Ohio House of Representatives. The Ohio Senate would then need to convict DeWine on at least one article with a two-thirds majority vote.
DeWine on Monday described the effort to impeach him as “foolishness [that] has got to stop,” and that he doesn’t believe it has broad support.
“I’d like for them to go in and talk to some nurses, who are front-line nurses, who are dealing with people who are dying,” DeWine told reporters. “I’d like for them to go talk to some family members, maybe a family that didn’t believe this could happen. Now at Christmas, there will be one less person at their table, or more.”
“At some point, this foolishness has got to stop,” he said. “And I’m not talking about most Ohioans, just a small number of people who continue, for whatever reason, to think [like] this and act that this is a big joke,” he added.
Becker said he has called on Speaker of the House Bob Cupp, a Republican, to assign the articles of impeachment to the Federalism Committee, with hopes of conducting hearings in December.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.