DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) – Dublin police were called to the Columbus Metropolitan Library Dublin branch this week on a complaint of an assault.
Video captured by cameras on the side of the building show a petition gatherer and another woman approaching a mother and child. The petition gatherer 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 scattering papers she was holding onto the ground as well.
The man was being paid by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts to ask registered voters if they wanted to sign a petition that would allow them to decide if they want HB6 to remain in effect or not; HB6 is also known as the Ohio Clean Air Act or the Nuclear Bailout Bill depending on who you ask. The bill was passed by state lawmakers and signed by Governor 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.
FirstEnergy Solutions claims the plants are not profitable and a bankruptcy case involving them is ongoing. An estimated $50 million was spent on lobbyists to convince lawmakers the bailout bill needed to pass.
Commercials played across television airwaves all spring and the first part of summer urging you to contact your lawmakers and 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 that energy. It also claims the group spreading the petition to overturn HB6 are 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 isn’t revealing its donors. This group is actively attempting to convince people not to sign the petition and sharing what they call the positive aspects of HB6, like that a couple thousand jobs are being saved by the bailout.
The woman in the video works, or worked, for FieldWorks. Dublin police have not finished writing the police report from earlier this week, and no charges have been filed as a result. We are waiting to see if anything comes of this incident.
Gene Pierce, a spokesman for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts said, “This is absolutely not appropriate, we don’t settle political arguments by physical force in America.”
Pierce has extensive experience in ballot measures here in Ohio. He says, over the past 10 years paid petition gatherers have become more popular as they are effective at getting the job done efficiently and with fewer errors which cause fewer problems when it comes to checking the validity of the signatures needed.
The group needs to gather nearly 300,000 signatures in about 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 and again were asked to operate in a polite respectful manner.” Steiner says the organization has reminded FieldWorks employees of this.