Petition gatherer assaulted at library in Dublin

News

DUBLIN (WCMH) — Dublin police were called to the Columbus Metropolitan Library Dublin branch this week on a complaint of an assault on a petitioner paid by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts was assaulted.

Video captured by cameras on the side of the building shows a petition gatherer and another woman approaching a mother and child.​

The petitioner has his phone out and appears to be pointing it in the direction of the other woman.​ She then advances at him and strikes the phone out of his hand and scattered papers she was holding onto the ground.​

The man was being paid by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts to ask registered voters if they wanted to sign a petition.

Should enough signatures be collected, voters would be able to decide if House Bill 6 (HB6) should remain in effect.

HB6 is also known as the Ohio Clean Air Act and the Nuclear Bailout Bill.

The bill was passed by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine this summer.

It adds a fee to all electricity users’ bills to pay for a $150 million annual bailout of FirstEnergy Solutions’ two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio.​

The company claims the plants are not profitable and there is a bankruptcy case involving them.

Commercials played across television airwaves all spring and the first part of summer urge voters to contact lawmakers to tell them to support the bill.​

Now commercials centered on the bill are back, but with a different goal.​

Ohioans for Energy Security, a non-profit that will not reveal who its donors are, is buying airtime for a commercial that claims the Chinese government is trying to invade America’s energy grid by entangling themselves financially in the companies that create and distribute energy.​

It also claims the group spreading the petition to overturn HB6 is working to benefit the communist government and recent iterations ask people to report petitioners’ locations to a phone number provided on screen.​

Another group is sending out what they call field staff from FieldWorks to “educate” people.

The group is Generation Now, another non-profit group that is not revealing its donors.​

This group wants to convince people not to sign the petition.

It is also sharing what they call the positive aspects of HB6.

It claims a couple of thousand jobs are being saved by the bailout.

The woman in the video either works or worked for FieldWorks.​

Dublin police have not finished writing the police report from earlier this week, and no charges have been filed.

“This is absolutely not appropriate,” said Gene Pierce, a spokesman for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts. “We don’t settle political arguments by physical force in America.”​

Pierce has extensive experience in ballot measures in Ohio.

He said over the past 10 years, paid petition gatherers have become more popular as they are effective at getting the job done with few errors. This causes fewer problems when validating the signatures.

The group needs to gather nearly 300,000 signatures in seven weeks in order to give voters a choice in the 2020 election.​

Pierce expects the opposition to continue to spend money to fight this measure as the petition drive is on target with reaching that goal.​

As for what happened at the library in Dublin, Curt Steiner, an advisor to Generation Now said: “When the workers for FieldWorks were trained, they were asked at that point not to do anything that would cause any problems in the field.”

“(They) were asked to operate in a polite respectful manner,”​ he said.

Steiner says the organization has reminded FieldWorks employees of this.​

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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