Husted reissues subpoenas in pot issue probe

Marijuana plant. (Photo/NBC News)
Marijuana plant. (Photo/NBC News)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s elections chief says he has reissued subpoenas in an investigation into the ballot petitions of group supporting a marijuana legalization effort.

The move by Secretary of State Jon Husted on Wednesday follows a federal lawsuit over his review of ResponsibleOhio’s petition signatures.

A person identified as “John Doe” filed the suit last week. He alleges subpoenas in the probe seek documents from ResponsibleOhio with residents’ personal information, creating a “chilling effect” and violating the First Amendment and privacy rights of those who support the legalization proposal.

Husted’s special investigator withdrew the subpoenas Tuesday. Husted says new ones were issued Wednesday to ResponsibleOhio’s leaders.

A court hearing scheduled for Thursday was canceled after Doe withdrew a temporary restraining order request, citing the withdrawal of the earlier subpoenas.

ResponsibleOhio released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

Chief Elections Officer Husted is channeling Joseph McCarthy, abusing his power, and waging a personal vendetta that uses taxpayer dollars to deny basic constitutional rights to Ohioans with the goal of chilling the right of free speech, association and affiliation.  If Husted the Bully is going to run a campaign against the Yes on Issue 3 initiative, instead of doing the job he was elected to do as an impartial elections referee, then he should have his political campaign pick up the tab for the legal fees and spare taxpayers the time and expense.”

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