DeWine’s ‘Vax-A-Million Drawing’ under fire

COLUMBUS — Embattled Gov. Mike DeWine, often criticized by fellow Republicans for his long-running health restrictions under COVID, is facing a new round of criticism for his plan to entice more Ohioans to get the coronavirus vaccine using millions of dollars from the state.

His “Vax-A-Million Drawing,” announced Wednesday in a statewide address, will give away $1 million each to five people chosen at random who get their first dose of the vaccine.

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The Plan

DeWine said the drawings will begin May 26th.

“The pool of names for the “Ohio Vax-a-Million” drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter registration database. Further, we will make available a webpage for people to sign up for the drawings if they are not in a database we are using,” DeWine said.

The drawing would be conducted by the Ohio Lottery and the money would not come from tax dollars. Instead, the millions to be handed out will come from what DeWine describes as “existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.”

Also, Wednesday DeWine announced a plan to award a college scholarship to five students, age 12-17 who receives at least one dose of the vaccine. The drawing will also be held May 26 and cover the cost of tuition, room, board and books at any state-supported university. Students will have to sign-up for the drawing one a special state web site to be opened on May 18.

The Response

Within minutes of DeWine’s announcement, a flood of negative posts filled social media. Among Republicans trashing the drawing idea is former State Treasurer and current candidate for the U-S Senate Josh Mandel. On Twitter, Mandel said, “RINO governor Mike DeWine is now doing an INSANE $5 million bribe to get more vaccines in Ohio. Here’s a better idea, Open Up Ohio and let our people get back to work! Ohioans don’t want handouts, we want FREEDOM!”

On the other side of the aisle came more heat from House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes.

“As elected leaders, we’re obligated to take seriously our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis. Ohioans deserve better than this,” Sykes said in a written statement.

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DeWine did win praise for his announcement that the COVID restrictions will be ending June 2nd. Pat Tiberi, President of the Ohio Business Roundtable said in a written statement that the business group supports DeWine’s decision.

“Throughout the pandemic, Governor DeWine has approached each phase of the crisis in a balanced, thoughtful manner, and tonight’s announcement regarding the rescission of the health orders is no different,” Tiberi, a former Republican Congressman said.

DeWine did not take questions from reporters after his statewide address Wednesday but is expected to have a briefing Thursday to answer questions and provide more details on his announcements.