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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

HB6 Referendum Group Accuses Opposition Of Buying Off Petitioners

HB6 referendum worker gathers signatures for petition. [Andy Chow]
HB6 referendum worker gathers signatures for petition.

The Ohio Attorney General is looking into allegations that a nuclear bailout group is trying to pay off petitioners and to buy the signatures they've gathered. 

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is trying to collect more than 265,000 signatures to put a referendum of HB6 on the November 2020 ballot. The law would bailout nuclear power plants, generate more subsidies for coal plants, roll back renewable energy policies, and eliminate energy efficiency mandates.  

Gene Pierce, spokesperson for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, says they keep seeing a decline in hired petition circulators. He says petitioners would be working for his anti-bailout group, gathering signatures to put the law before voters, and then one day they would fall out of contact without turning in their signatures.

Pierce says the opposition, which wants to save the subsidies for FirstEnergy Solutions’ nuclear plants, is offering to pay circulators to drop out and sometimes offers money for the signatures they've collected, which is illegal.

"Our opponents have been harassing, intimidating, and now they're breaking the law by offering to buy signatures in a desperate effort to stop this petition to repeal that bailout," says Pierce.

But the pro-bailout group Generation Now, which has been sending monitors to follow anti-bailout circulators, says they're not familiar with these allegations and has not engaged in those practices.

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