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Supporters of FirstEnergy Solutions launch a racist, anti-democracy “yellow peril” campaign

Jarvis DeBerry, columnist at cleveland.com and a member of the editorial board.

CLEVELAND -- "The mailer from Ohioans for Energy Security purports to be looking out for America and American interests, but what is more American than giving the people a say in how their tax dollars are spent? What’s more American than people who feel passionately about an issue, walking the streets and knocking on doors in the attempt to persuade other people to feel the same?

That’s the irony in the bail-out supporters’ mailer. By suggesting that their political opponents ought to be reported for their political activity, they’re acting like the repressive government they’re pushing us to us fear.

If we accept the group’s position that it’s OK to report our political adversaries, then all is already lost. There’d be no need for any foreign power to control us."

--Jarvis DeBerry, cleveland.com

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More disclosure needed on dark money interests funding untrue ads

COLUMBUS -- "Greater disclosure from dark money groups is needed to tamp down “fear mongering” political rhetoric such as the ads from a dark money group fighting a potential referendum on the Ohio’s nuclear bailout bill, two community groups said Thursday.

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause Ohio are calling on state lawmakers to adopt new campaign finance rules that would shed more light on the sources of funding for dark money interests.

Representatives from those groups said during a press conference Thursday that they are concerned about an aggressive campaign by Ohioans for Energy Security, which supports Ohio’s relief package for First Energy Solutions’ nuclear power plants. In mailers and television ads, the group has tried to link opponents to China and called on people to report the location of those collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to repeal the law."

-- Rick Rouan, Columbus Dispatch

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End the damaging and precedent-setting anti-HB-6-referendum overkill

CLEVELAND -- "It’s blaring in our faces: China’s Communist regime could gain control of Ohio’s electricity grid if voters repeal House Bill 6, the new state law to make Ohio electricity customers bail out the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants along with two coal-fueled power plants (one of them in Indiana).

The purported scheme is preposterous.

In plain English, it’s a lie.

But the TV ads and mailers demonstrate the over-the-top demagoguery of Ohioans for Energy Security. The dark-money group is so determined to keep Ohioans from getting a crack at HB 6 at the ballot box that it’s setting a new and dangerous low for campaign tactics in Ohio."

-- Editorial Board, cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer

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Fear is a powerful tool

Ohio Citizen Action regularly manages petition drive-type work throughout the state on numerous issues. Due to the language of the ads being run by Ohioans for Energy Security, volunteers and employees of Ohio Citizen Action may be targeted under false pretenses as agents of a foreign government, a blatantly false and defamatory conclusion.

 


Editorial: Don’t believe ads opposing FirstEnergy bailout referendum

AKRON -- "How much money is at stake in Ohio lawmakers’ bailout of Akron-based FirstEnergy Solution’s nuclear power plants?

Enough to motivate backers of House Bill 6 to produce slick TV commercials and mailers that wildly twist the truth in an effort to stop a referendum seeking to block the bailout. It’s even been enough to prompt a physical altercation between a woman and a man asking people to sign petitions whom she was monitoring.

We say enough already, FirstEnergy Solutions...

HB 6 bails out two nuclear power plants by giving its owners nearly $1 billion, and that will save those 1,400 jobs and preserve renewable power sources for now. The bill also does a lot to damage Ohio’s future, and Ohioans have good reason to second-guess the legislature’s actions.

It’s an issue worthy of more public debate, presuming it can be based on arguments resembling facts.

For now, we call on FirstEnergy Solutions to hold its supporters to a much higher standard."

-- editorial, Akron Beacon Journal

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Ohioans flooded with ads as battle heats up over effort to repeal energy law

"A petition circulator filed a police report in suburban Columbus last week alleging he was assaulted by a woman working on behalf of the anti-petition forces.

Ohio Citizen Action, a non-profit environmental group that opposed House Bill 6, fired off a letter to Ohioans for Energy Security on Sept. 11, calling on the campaign to cease and desist efforts to stop voters from signing the referendum petition.

'Those supporting the bailout of Ohio’s nuclear power plants have stooped to a new low,' said Ohio Citizen Action Director Rachael Belz in a written statement. 'Individuals are being sent to block a voter’s Constitutional right to sign a petition through confusion and intimidation. Sounds like they know Ohioans are ready to sign and are prepared to stop at nothing to protect the benefits of their corporate bailout.'

She added that claims that the petition is driven by agents of a foreign government are false and defamatory."

 


Who's behind Ohioans for Energy Security's ad campaign to scare voters?

Ohioans for Energy Security tells voters to call its hotline to report petition gatherers.

"The server for the group’s website – www.ohioansforenergysecurity.com – also hosts the websites of Elsass’s Strategy Group Company and Front Porch Strategies. 

It also hosts a site – LarryHouseholderFightsforus.com – supporting Ohio’s Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, whose rise to the speakership was backed by FirstEnergy and Generation Now. Householder then led the drive to pass HB 6. The pro-Householder site is paid for by the Michigan-based Hardworking Americans Committee, which spent over $450,000 on ads opposing Householder’s Republican primary opponent Kevin Black in 2018. 

Federal Elections Commission data shows the Hardworking Americans Committee received $50,000 in 2018 from the PAC of Murray Energy, a coal producer that stands to benefit from HB 6. 

The Hardworking Americans also received $50,000 that year from Political Education Patterns, the PAC for the Cleveland-based International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18. IUOE Local 18 doled out $295,000 to Generation Now in 2018 and 2019, according to FEC data. Mark A. Totman, the union’s VP, serves as one of Governor Dewine’s appointees to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Nominating Council, where he represents organized labor."

-- Dave Anderson, Energy and Policy Institute 

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Man says he was shoved while collecting signatures to overturn Ohio nuclear bailout

COLUMBUS - "The woman is not affiliated with Ohioans for Energy Security, which is flooding Ohio homes with pro-House Bill 6 advertisements that warn residents not to give their personal information to the Chinese government, spokesman Carlo LoParo said.

That claim refers to a loan from a Chinese bank to an Ohio natural gas-fired plant owned in part by an opponent of the law. FirstEnergy Solutions' former parent company FirstEnergy Corp., who supported the law, also received loans from the same Chinese bank.  

Ohio Citizen Action, the state's largest environmental organization, sent a cease and desist letter to Ohioans for Energy Security Wednesday regarding the ads, saying they could put signature gatherers at risk.

'The false words of your ad will injure the reputation of our volunteers and potentially place them in the crosshairs of xenophobic or antagonistic individuals who heard your ad,' Ohio Citizen Action's executive director wrote. 

Ohioans for Energy Security declined to halt the ads, saying in a letter that it 'intends to continue to exercise its First Amendment rights.'"

- Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer 

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Ohio Citizen Action files Cease and Desist Letter with Ohioans For Energy Security

Letter delivered amidst police reports of violence toward signature collectors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 11, 2019

Contact: Rachael Belz, 513-602-4115

or Melissa English, 513-307-8527

Cincinnati, OH – September 11, 2019- Ohio’s largest consumer and environmental advocacy group has issued cease and desist letter (attached) with Ohioans for Energy Security regarding their ad campaign and website opposing signature collection for the citizen referendum on House Bill 6. Ohio Citizen Action is calling for an end for all unlawful defamation, slander, and/or libel around actions and statements relating to Ohio ballot petitioners and website language encouraging Ohioans to report seeing petition circulators via a “hotline.”

In addition to a ludicrous $2.3 million ad buy asserting that signing a House Bill 6 referendum petition would result in personal information being given to the Chinese government, Ohioans for Energy Security has now hired workers referred to as “blockers” who shadow petition collectors in efforts to prevent voters from signing petitions. Their goals are to confuse and intimidate petition signers and interfere with the signature collection process.

On September 10, a paid signature collector for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts filed a police report in the city of Dublin (Columbus suburb) saying he was assaulted by someone hired by Generation Now. While an investigation is pending, it is clear that the messages coming from Generation Now are having their desired effect of putting signature collectors in harm’s way.

“Those supporting the bailout of Ohio’s nuclear power plants have stooped to a new low,” said Rachael Belz, Executive Director of Ohio Citizen Action. “Individuals are being sent to block a voter’s Constitutional right to sign a petition through confusion and intimidation. Sounds like they know Ohioans are ready to sign and are prepared to stop at nothing to protect the benefits of their corporate bailout.”

Ohio Citizen Action regularly manages petition drive-type work throughout the state on numerous issues. Due to the language of the ads being run by Ohioans for Energy Security, volunteers and employees of Ohio Citizen Action may be targeted under false pretenses as agents of a foreign government, a blatantly false and defamatory conclusion.

“Claims made in these ads are false and disparage the reputation of Ohioans exercising their democratic rights,” said Belz. “Our cease and desist letter gives this campaign 10 days to stop these potentially harmful tactics or face possible legal action.”

Cease and Desist letter (pdf)


House Bill 6 referendum petition circulator says he was assaulted in Dublin

COLUMBUS — "A Las Vegas man gathering petition signatures for the House Bill 6 repeal referendum says he was assaulted Tuesday in Dublin by a woman who slapped his cell phone from his hand as he took her picture.

Harold Chung called police at 12:56 p.m. Tuesday to report he was attacked outside the Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 75 N. High St., according to a police report.

Police said an investigation is continuing and no arrest has been made.

Chung told officers the woman who shoved him with her shoulder and slapped his phone to the ground had been following other petition gatherers from his unidentified company around prior to the incident.

'It looks like she is hired blocker to keep me from gathering signatures,' Chung said in his 911 call to police. The woman, who was carrying fliers she dropped, 'kind of shoulder blocked me away,' when he attempted to pick up his phone, he said."

— Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch

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