One of the few Republican governors who have garnered bipartisan kudos for their effective handling of the coronavirus pandemic is Ohio’s Mike DeWine.
Unlike GOP governors like Ron DeSantis in Florida, Brian Kemp in Georgia, Tate Reeves in Mississippi, Kaye Ivey in Alabama, and Kevin Stitt in Oklahoma, among many others, DeWine moved quickly to shut Ohio schools in early March before the virus had established a firm foothold in the state, likely slowing the spread of infections greatly with his swift actions.
He also had no problem establishing a statewide mandatory mask requirement at the end of July when cases were surging, following the best scientific advice available, ignoring political pressure from “mask-holes” who feel it’s their god-given right to infect anyone that they come across in their day to day business.
While DeWine’s savvy handling of the crisis likely lead to far fewer COVID-19-related deaths in Ohio than if he had emulated those Republican Governors more fearful of angering Donald Trump than facing grim death counts, no good deed goes unpunished.
Today comes word that three GOP legislators in the Ohio House of Representatives have drafted articles of impeachment against Governor DeWine accusing him of violating the civil liberties of the state’s citizens with his public health orders.
An article on Cleveland.com details the 10 articles that the right-wing representatives list in their impeachment call, including the allegations that Governor DeWine:
- Violated the separation of powers by having the Ohio Department of Health issue orders outside the scope of its authority that are “tantamount to creating new laws”
- “Conspired” with Secretary of State Frank LaRose to cancel the March 17 primary election, citing a health emergency, then tried to reschedule it for June 2 without legislative approval (the legislature subsequently passed a law setting an all-mail primary on April 28)
- Unconstitutionally ordered the closure of businesses because of coronavirus fears, which “resulted in record-high unemployment, causing not only increased poverty, increased depression, increased despair, and increased suicides, but also the necessity for state budget cuts impacting schools and social programs when they are needed most”
- “Failed to anticipate or plan for more than a million newly unemployed Ohioans who suffered the additional indignity of being unable to communicate with an overwhelmed Department of Job and Family Services to file claims,” and “demonstrated grotesque discrimination against the medical health and welfare of the general population by denying nonemergency healthcare”
- Ordered the shutdown of schools, “a power that belongs exclusively to the State Board of Education.” After schools reopened, DeWine “ordered that all students wear face coverings, which violates students’ civil liberties”
- “Has repeatedly proven his incompetence by providing wildly inaccurate forecasts and repeatedly misleading COVID-19 data; and committed misfeasance and malfeasance with his policy prescriptions, which have proven to be far worse than the virus itself.”
- Had his administration issue a “stay-at-home” order for Ohioans, which violated citizens’ due-process rights and civil liberties.
- Required Ohioans to wear face masks in houses of worship, in violation of the First Amendment
- Issued face-mask rule that “promotes fear, turns neighbors against neighbors, and contracts the economy by making people fearful to leave their homes.” The resolution also states that “for the general population wearing face coverings, people are more likely to infect themselves with COVID-19” (Health officials generally agree that wearing a face covering provides more protection than not wearing a mask)
- Temporarily banned liquor sales to non-Ohio residents in six counties near the Pennsylvania border, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.
The impeachment attempt faces an extremely high hurdle that the three legislative sponsors are unlikely to be able to overcome, with a majority of the Ohio House and two-thirds of its Senate needing to approve the measure and convict DeWine.
A spokesman for the governor essentially said that he will be ignoring the impeachment resolution.
“Gov. DeWine is focused on saving lives during the pandemic. He’s focused on the economy and getting Ohioans back to work,” spokesman Dan Tierney said. “That’s what he’s focused on — not this.”
The chairperson of the Ohio Republican Party, Jane Timken, strongly condemned the effort by the maverick conservative representatives, saying that the resolution was “a baseless, feeble attempt at creating attention for themselves.”
“It is despicable that anyone who considers themself to be conservative would make an attempt to impeach Governor DeWine. In a time of harsh political division, and an important election year, Republicans should be united. Ohio and the world have witnessed an unprecedented global pandemic – one that Governor DeWine has done a great job at leading us through.”
Even opposition Democrats defended the Republican governor’s pandemic performance while criticizing the Ohio GOP for putting politics over public health and condemning their decision to allow the state’s former Speaker of the House to remain in the legislature even after he was arrested on federal corruption charges.
“The Ohio GOP’s message to voters is clear — corruption and bribery are A-OK with us, but having the audacity to listen to public health experts during a global pandemic is an impeachable offense,” Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper said.
House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D) also weighed in on the internecine Republican battle.
“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,” Sykes 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,” she continued.
As the national Republican party holds their convention, anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that their anti-science agenda is harmful to themselves personally and to society — and ultimately, the economy — as a whole.
All the more reason to acknowledge when a Republican governor actually bucks the peer pressure from their GOP colleagues and takes their public health responsibilities seriously.
It’s also all the more reason to refuse to vote for any Republican candidate in the November elections to send a clear message that a party that doesn’t even recognise when one of its own is acting in the public interest doesn’t deserve an iota of support and must be overwhelmingly repudiated.
Original reporting by Jeremy Pelzer at Cleveland.com
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.