TRUMBULL CO., Ohio (WKBN) – A misinformation campaign is making its rounds in the area, claiming people collecting signatures in opposition to Ohio’s nuclear bailout law are working for the Chinese government.
All around the area, people are finding flyers in their mailboxes, warning China is “invading” Ohio’s electric grid.
There’s also a website, which warns Chinese operatives are collecting petitions for nefarious reasons.
The petitions are being taken up by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts. The bailout at issue here is House Bill 6, which gave money to Ohio’s bankrupt nuclear plants.
The law hit hard in Trumbull County. A $1 billion natural gas power plant was scrapped because of the law.
“At a time when we lost all the shifts at General Motors and the downturn in the economy, this would have been a shot in the arm for the local economy,” said State Rep. Michael O’Brien.
The campaign is paid for by a new, for-profit company called “Ohioans for Energy Security.” Because it’s for-profit and not a political action committee, the company does not have to say where its money comes from.
But the spokesman of record for the company, Carlo LoParo, is also the spokesman for another action committee that is on the record as “Powered by FirstEnergy Solutions.”
“Connect the dots,” O’Brien said. “If they are against the referendum petition, you can rest assured the First Energy team is behind these ads.”
First Energy Solutions is also trying to block the attempt to overturn HB6.
This week, just as flyers were arriving in mailboxes, the company filed a lawsuit asking the Ohio Supreme Court to halt the referendum. If it’s approved by the state, you could vote sometime next year on whether to continue bailing out nuclear plants.