COLUMBUS — The Ohio Democratic Party today submitted a public records request to the Ohio secretary of state’s office to obtain any communication with outside groups or individuals, documents or records related to the effort to repeal House Bill 6 via ballot referendum.
“Larry Householder and his co-conspirators worked behind the scenes to make sure House Bill 6 would ‘stay law’ and not be repealed by a ballot referendum,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Kirstin Alvanitakis. “Given how well-connected they were, we are seeking to learn more about any direct communications they might have had with officials in the secretary of state’s office as they pursued this effort.”
Any communications including emails, texts, voicemails, notes of telephone calls and any other communication, electronic, written or recorded related to House Bill 6, FirstEnergy or the ballot referendum by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts with legislators or registered lobbyists, from July 23, 2019, to January 21, 2020;
Any communications including emails, texts, voicemails, notes of telephone calls and any other communication, electronic, written or recorded related to House Bill 6, FirstEnergy or the ballot referendum by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, between Secretary Frank LaRose, Merle Madrid, Kim Burns, Grant Shaffer, Jon Keeling, Patrick Piccini or Chris Oliveti and Larry Householder, Neil Clark, Jeff Longstreth, Juan Cespedes or Matt Borges, from July 23, 2019, to January 21, 2020.
In April 2017, then-state Sen. Frank LaRose introduced the first version of the bill that eventually became House Bill 6.
On July 23, 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 6 into law, starting a 90-day clock for groups to gather petition signatures in any attempt to repeal the legislation via ballot referendum.
On Aug. 12, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rejected the initial referendum language offered by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts and required the group to submit a new referendum petition — with 1,000 new petition signatures. This delayed the House Bill 6 repeal effort by several weeks.
On Aug. 29, Yost approved the second referendum petition, and one day later the secretary of state’s office approved it.
On Sept. 23, at a meeting between Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyist Neil Clark, Clark detailed the effort to thwart the anti-House Bill 6 ballot campaign. Householder said, “It is so important, it is so important, that they are not successful, because when the legislature votes on something, it needs to stay law.”
On Nov. 13, attorneys for LaRose, with the Ohio attorney general’s office, filed a brief that asked the Ohio Supreme Court not to answer questions the federal judge had requested the state court determine regarding the constitutionality of the referendum process.
On Dec. 24, the state Supreme Court decided to hear the lawsuit.
On Jan. 21, 2020, the anti-House Bill 6 ballot campaign dropped the suit, citing the immense cost of continuing to pursue it. A spokesman for the campaign said, “We decided we did not have the resources to continue the fight. The heavy-handed spending spree (by opponents) made money a priority. The issues were on our side, but we couldn’t match the spending they were doing. It really tipped the scales against citizen participation and citizen referendum.”