Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost gave a message to people Monday attempting to interfere with the signature gathers of a referendum petition against House Bill 6: Knock it off.
AG Yost today told petition disruptors to "knock it off" following reports of harassment.
— Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (@OhioAG) September 30, 2019
The news release from Yost’s office warned he felt necessary to relay publicly the several reports of harassment and attacks on people who were hired to gather signatures from registered voters in an effort to place House Bill 6, known as the Nuclear Bailout Bill, on the ballot for a voter referendum in the fall of 2020.
“Two different petitions are circulating statewide and their supporters have a right under law to collect signatures without interference,” Yost said in his statement to the press. “My job as attorney general is to call balls and strikes like I see them, and this one is a wild pitch. It’s time to knock it off.”
The AG provided a phone number for signature gatherers to call, and he is encouraging them to report any incidents to 1-800-282-0515.
“Under state law, the attorney general’s office has the authority to investigate criminal elections violations in the petition process and refer evidence to county prosecutors for possible charges,” the news release states. “If a county prosecutor declines to press charges, the attorney general’s office may do so.”
The Ohio Star recently reported the attack on a petition circulator by a woman paid to be a “blocker” by supporters of the bill. Yost referenced the attack in his warning.
Gene Pierce, spokesperson for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, the group running the petition drive, responded to Yost’s announcement.
“As Ohio’s highest law enforcement officer, our petition drive welcomes the Attorney General’s call for House Bill 6 supporters to tone down their actions and step back from their harassment and intimidation tactics against our petition collection teams,” he said.
Pierce added, “The employers of pro-House Bill 6 ‘blockers’ have a history of skirting the law and Attorney General Yost is right to resist their attempt to drag Ohio down into an increasingly violent campaign. Ohioans should not be deterred by the intimidation tactics and sign our petition to put this billion dollar bailout on Ohio’s ballot so every citizen can freely speak on this controversial issue.”
Petition circulators have until October 21, 2019, to gather 265,744 valid signatures to place the legislation on the 2020 ballot. If they do not succeed, the bill will go into effect on October 22nd. If they are successful, the legislation will be put on hold until after the November 3 election results are counted next fall.
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