COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Cincinnati-area Republican lawmaker behind the attempt to impeach GOP Gov. Mike DeWine filed an affidavit in an Ohio court to try to begin criminal proceedings against the governor for his response to the coronavirus crisis. But the local prosecutor said late Monday afternoon that there isn’t a case.
Clermont County Prosecutor Vincent Faris reviewed Rep. John Becker’s 10 allegations of wrongdoing — seven of which could amount to felony charges — and then sent a message to the Clermont County Municipal Court clerk saying he wasn’t going to pursue the matter.
“Policy decisions should be left to the legislature and not be criminalized,” Faris said.
Faris’ decision comes as Becker continues to work on an effort to impeach DeWine that has been slow to gain momentum, outside of a handful of ultraconservative Republicans.
Earlier Monday, Becker had announced he filed an affidavit with the municipal court with 10 charges of alleged wrongdoing against DeWine over his coronavirus public health orders. (Read the affidavit at the bottom of this story. Some readers may need to click here. )
Becker was using a state law that allows private citizens to attempt to begin criminal proceedings against others. The affidavit isn’t the same as a prosecutor filing criminal charges. Faris was key to opening the case, according to the law.
Becker was hoping for a criminal case, which he believed would broaden the appeal of impeachment in the House, he said.
“Many of my colleagues are resistant to impeachment for various reasons, one of which is their concern the governor hasn’t been charged with anything criminally,” he said. “Criminal charges are never necessary to impeachment. Historically, criminal charges have never been part of impeachment.”
Becker’s impeachment resolution still remains in the drafting process, because it only has three co-sponsors. Becker would like to have 50.
Once he files the legislation with the House clerk, opportunities for additional co-sponsors are limited, he said.
DeWine’s spokesman Dan Tierney had a simple response to Becker’s affidavit.
“If this were serious, I would have a comment,” Tierney said in an email. “Because it is patently absurd, I do not.”