The group fighting to protect the subsidies for FirstEnergy Solutions has been paying for mailers and ads that use anti-Chinese government rhetoric.
But House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) is calling the campaign to support the nuclear bailout law, racist and xenophobic. Sykes says Ohioans for Energy Security is trying to incite fear to stop people from signing referendum petitions.
Those petitions would have voters decide if they want to keep the energy law that bails out nuclear plants, subsidizes coal plants, rolls back renewable energy requirements on utilities and eliminates energy efficiency mandates.
Sykes says the public should hear a real discourse about the issue.
"There's a lot of things on both sides that people might like or dislike and we should let people decide on the merits not use scare tactics and xenophobia and racism in order to do that."
Ohioans for Energy Security says their ads that claim the Chinese government is invading the American electric grid are not xenophobic, but says they were produced to attract attention.
If the referendum group Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts collects enough valid signatures by October 21, the law will be halted before it takes effect and the issue will appear on the 2020 November ballot.