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State Rep. Wilkin Critical Of “Vax-A-Million” Giveaway

Presented By Rathkamp Financial

Rep. Shane Wilkin Photo Courtesy of Ohio House of Representatives

State Representative Shane Wilkin, a Republican from Hillsboro, has expressed displeasure over the idea of giving away five separate one- million-dollar jackpots to Ohioans who have received a COVID-19 vaccination in an opt-in lottery that Governor Mike DeWine says was his idea.

Wilkin says staff on the Ohio Controlling Board were looking at ways that more than $5 million in funding could be revoked after it was approved in Controlling Board meetings to in 2020 and 2021 for “critical outreach to Ohio citizens,” “public awareness and media campaigns,” and “other non-testing response activities at Ohio Department of Health.”

In an interview with Columbus TV’s ABC6, Wikin said- “My gut reaction was, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,'” Wilkin said of hearing the Vax-A-Million news last week. “Seriously: this is the best way we can do this?

“I simply disagree with this method of incentive for someone taking the vaccine,” he added.

A spokesman for Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management said Monday that the Vax-A-Million falls within those purposes and Governor Mike DeWine defended the Vax-A-Million idea during a Monday press conference.

“The CARES Act requires that the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency…were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved…and were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 31, 2021,” said spokesman Pete LuPiba. “The (Vax-A-Million) outreach campaign satisfies each of these three prongs.”

Both Ohio’s Attorney General and the Auditor of State have released statements to acknowledge that Vax-A-Million appears to be legal. 

Ohio Department of Health director Stephanie McCloud defended the sweepstakes.

“It is legal to use the funds for what we’re using them for,” McCloud said. “We have to use this money; the idea behind this money is broadly interpreted in the statute to bring awareness, help encourage and facilitate uptake of the vaccine.”

McCloud said the money was not requested from the Ohio Controlling Board with the intent of later running a sweepstakes, but that “everything’s on the table at all points.”

“We knew we were going to find innovative ways to bring vaccine education and vaccine uptake to Ohioans,” she said.