And here things have leapt to another level. Frank LaRose, the Ohio Secretary of State, has now asked the Ohio Supreme Court NOT to respond to the federal judge's queries.
In other words: the Republican attorney general killed nearly half the allotted signature gathering time for the repeal of this bailout. A federal judge has asked to hear from the state Supreme Court. And now Ohio's Republican secretary of state has asked that Court NOT to comply, in a direct attempt to prevent Ohioans from voting on whether they're to be forced to pay a billion dollar subsidy for two lethal, money losing atomic reactors.
This shocking combination of overt threats, bribery and outright physical violence, combined with judicial stall tactics by elected Ohio officials, breaks new ground in the assault on democracy itself in the American heartland.
The issue cuts to the core of the 2020 election. Donald Trump has met personally with at least one principal lobbyist for FirstEnergy, the prime beneficiary of the bailout. At least one of his associates lobbied at least five legislators in its behalf.
But a statewide referendum for repeal could be catastrophic for the GOP. Polls show more than 60% of Ohioans opposed. That includes much of the normally corporate statewide media. Many big industrial organizations have joined the fossil fuel industry here in fighting it.
If the referendum does get on the 2020 ballot, it will clearly energize a strong progressive voter turnout. Outraged ratepayers could very easily make the difference in a closely divided swing state. So for Trump and his minions, killing a vote on this billion-dollar rip-off is vital.
Their assault must be seen as part of a larger attack on democracy itself. The right to referendum has been established in numerous states for a century or more. That physical violence, choreographed bribery and official legal manipulation would now be used to kill it bodes badly for our future.
From the rise in violent white supremacist bigotry, to unaccountable police murders, to Charlottesville, to the recent attack on Code Pink's Medea Benjamin to the concerted Republican assault on paper ballots and fair, inclusive voting practices, it's clear the GOP intends to gut democracy in 2020 and beyond.
This all-out utility and official attack on the referendum process in Ohio has put a billion-dollar price tag on two nukes capable of doing trillions in damage to human health and the eco-systems of the Great Lakes region.
But it also signals a broader war against both democracy and truth, one we must all take very, very seriously.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).