Recent news

FirstEnergy, disavow aggressive tactics against anti-HB 6 petition circulators

Oct 02, 2019 12:47 PM

"Yost called on signature-gatherers to report harassment and intimidation directly to his office by calling (800) 282-0515.

A statement from Generation Now, the pro-HB 6 group that has hired petition blockers, said it would not tolerate illegal tactics. 'Field staffers have been reminded repeatedly to act appropriately and generally it appears they are,' said the statement from spokesman Curt Steiner. 'One staffer was fired after misbehavior was documented and FieldWorks will follow up on any documented incidents.'

But the best and surest way to end these incidents is for FirstEnergy to step forward now and do the right thing, by condemning the intimidation and calling for it to end."

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Nuclear Bailout Supporters Clashing With Referendum Petitioners In The Field

Oct 01, 2019 10:56 AM

 Amy Sutherly gathers signatures to put a referendum of HB6 on the 2020 November ballot. She has a brace around her wrist saying she sustained the injury after a counter petitioner hit her.

COLUMBUS -- "Generation Now is a dark money group funding a counter referendum effort. They're trying to protect the nuclear subsidies bound for FirstEnergy Solutions. Part of that effort is to pay for people to follow petitioners like Sutherly around.

Sutherly says these trackers are becoming aggressive and intimidating. She says they've crowded around her, followed her in a car for miles while she was driving home, and, while she was collecting signatures on Ohio State University's campus, assaulted her.

'The one gentleman turned around and wailed my hand in front of three students and knocked the phone out of my hand,' Sutherly explains.

Sutherly, who's wearing a brace on her left wrist, says she reported the case to OSU police."

-- Andy Chow, National Public Radio 

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Yost warns House Bill 6 supporters to not harass referendum workers

Sep 30, 2019 1:02 PM

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"Yost issued the warning Monday after reviewing a 'handful' of reports of misconduct by “blockers,” who are instructed by bailout supporters to attempt to discourage voters from signing the referendum petition forms.

'There’s enough reports in the news media and on social media I am concerned about it. I don’t want this to become normal practice in Ohio political life,' the attorney general said.

'It’s great if you are saying, ‘Don’t sign that, it is going to be bad,’ that’s free speech. But, intimidating or harassing a circulator, that is over the line into criminal conduct.'

'This is not just political pranksterism,' Yost said. Interfering with a petition circulator is a misdemeanor carrying 90 to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, the Republican said.

Yost encouraged those who witness misconduct by petition circulators or 'blockers' to contact his office’s help center so information potentially can be referred to county prosecutors."

-- Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch  

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3 Ohio Supreme Court justices remove themselves from House Bill 6

Sep 30, 2019 10:52 AM

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COLUMBUS -- "Two Ohio Supreme Court justices recused themselves Friday from hearing a lawsuit seeking to stop a referendum attempt to cast aside the House Bill 6 bailout of two nuclear power plants.

A third justice plans to disqualify himself from the case in a filing Monday.

The common thread: Two of the defendants in the House Bill 6 case managed the three Republicans’ successful election campaigns.

Justice Patrick Fischer removed himself from the case Friday morning, with Justice Judith French following Friday afternoon. Justice Patrick DeWine told The Dispatch he would recuse himself Monday.

Fischer and French did not state the reason for disqualifying themselves from hearing the case in which FirstEnergy Solutions is suing Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts in a bid to negate the group’s petition effort to place a House Bill 6 repeal referendum on the November 2020 ballot."

-- Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch

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FirstEnergy Solutions rang up $1 million legal bill to pass House Bill 6

Sep 23, 2019 10:32 AM

COLUMBUS -- FirstEnergy Solutions rang up a legal bill approaching $1 million to help persuade the Ohio General Assembly to approve the $1 billion, consumer-financed bailout of its pair of nuclear power plants.

Led by work on House Bill 6, a request for payment of legal bills filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Akron shows FirstEnergy Solutions was billed $1.149 million for legal work on 'state government affairs.'

The billing covers April 1 through July 31, the period in which House Bill 6 was introduced, received more than a dozen committee hearings and then was passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate."

-- Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch

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Letter: Ohio’s leaders should condemn false advertising

Sep 23, 2019 9:51 AM

Rachael Belz, Executive director, Ohio Citizen Action.

COLUMBUS -- "As executive director of Ohio Citizen Action, I feel compelled to express my disgust over the outright lies pro-bailout forces have employed to quash the ballot initiative to repeal House Bill 6, the coal and nuclear bailout bill. It’s bad enough to suggest that signing a petition gives personal information to the Chinese government, but Ohioans for Energy Security goes too far in encouraging Ohioans to report petitioners’ locations via a “hotline,” as if they were an invading menace to be feared.

Our staff members circulate support statements for our energy campaigns and my first thought when seeing the ads was concern for their safety and helping them to avoid harassment. On these grounds, our organization has issued a cease-and-desist letter calling for the ads to be pulled.

Ohioans for Energy Security also has hired workers known as “blockers” to shadow petition circulators and prevent voters from signing petitions. Last week a “blocker” assaulted a paid signature collector for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts.

Where are Ohio’s politicians? Why are they not condemning these false ads and physical attacks? Why isn’t Gov. Mike DeWine speaking out? It’s completely irresponsible for our lawmakers, even those misguided enough to have voted for the bailout, to fail to condemn this campaign.

-- Rachael Belz, letter to the editor, Columbus Dispatch

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

Sep 19, 2019 2:33 PM

Jarvis DeBerry, columnist at 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,

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More disclosure needed on dark money interests funding untrue ads

Sep 19, 2019 1:40 PM

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

Sep 19, 2019 12:51 PM

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, and The Plain Dealer

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Fear is a powerful tool

Sep 17, 2019 1:54 PM

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.