Lawmaker demands charges against governor over virus orders

"Mike DeWine" by Vivien McClain, CC BY-SA 4.0

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP): A conservative lawmaker took his frustration over Ohio’s coronavirus public health orders to a new level Monday by demanding that criminal charges be filed against fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

Rep. John Becker, a Republican from Cincinnati, says DeWine has exceeded his authority under state law and the Ohio and U.S. constitutions in issuing orders restricting Ohioans movements and activities. He made his demand in Clermont Municipal Court under a provision of state law allowing private citizen affidavits.

A reviewing prosecutor dismissed the request for charges almost immediately, and a DeWine spokesman called the move “absurd.”

Becker filed to have the prosecutor charge DeWine with 10 different crimes, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, complicity, terrorism, inducing panic and interfering with civil rights.

DeWine has “assumed dictatorial powers” and “stuck his thumb in the eye of the General Assembly,” Becker said in an interview. Becker, who is term-limited and not running for re-election, is also spearheading an effort to impeach DeWine that currently has four backers among the 99 House lawmakers.

“If this were serious, I would have a comment. Because it is patently absurd, I do not,” said DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney.

Clermont County Municipal Clerk Tim Rudd forwarded Becker’s complaint to county prosecutor Vincent Faris, who reviewed and rejected it.

“I don’t think policy decisions should be criminalized. These are policy matters, not a criminal charge,” Faris said.

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