Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has approved the summary language for a proposed referendum to repeal House Bill 6 – the legislature’s $1 billion bailout of nuclear power plants.
“The Attorney General’s quick resolution of our petition language will help Ohio voters exercise their Constitutional right to put controversial legislation up to a statewide vote,” said Gene Pierce, a spokesman for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts.
Before the campaign can begin collecting signatures, the Ohio Secretary of State must certify that the draft petition includes at least 1,000 signatures of registered voters.
That ruling is due before the close of business Aug. 30.
Meanwhile, an advertising campaign against the repeal effort has already started.
Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for Ohioans for Energy Security, says the repeal effort is a “play for market share by natural gas companies that are trying to kill off the Ohio-based competition.”
“We want voters to know that when they’re asked to sign these petitions, not only do they put 4,000 Ohio jobs at risk, not only do they threaten two power plants that produce 90 percent of Ohio’s clean energy but they’re also supporting interests – financial interests that are heavily financed by a foreign government,” LoParo said.
The television ad suggests a Chinese conspiracy to control power generation in Ohio: “They took our manufacturing jobs. They shuttered our factories. Now, they’re coming for our energy jobs. The Chinese government is quietly invading our American electric grid, intertwining themselves financially in our infrastructure.”
The ad suggests a Chinese connection to the opponents of the bailout:
“Now a special interest group boosting Chinese financial interests is targeting Ohio’s energy, taking Ohio money, exporting Ohio jobs even risking our national security. They’re meddling in our elections.”
Gene Pierce says the ad campaign is misleading. “There is no connection between the Chinese government and anything that has to do with our ballot petition – that’s an example about how misleading and untruthful they’re being,” Pierce said. “They think that Ohioans are stupid. They think that Ohioans will believe this ridiculous claim.”
LoParo said the ad is a reference to one of the opponents of the bailout, an investor in the natural gas industry, using financing from a Chinese government bank.
The ad uses Chinese government imagery to warn voters against signing a petition to repeal the bailout: Don’t sign your name to a plan that kills Ohio jobs, harms Ohio communities and endangers our energy independence.
China turned off the power to Ohio manufacturing – don’t let them do it to you. Don’t sign the petition allowing China to control Ohio’s power.
Pierce believes Ohio’s will see through the ads which he labels as a smokescreen and a distraction.
“We’ve got people stationed all around the world protecting American democracy and here these guys are trying to intimidate Ohioans into not being able to sign a petition,” Pierce said.
“We think with the truth on our side, we’ll be successful no matter what they spend.”