Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is running for reelection against Republican Josh Mandel. Brown, who is a strong supporter of LGBT and Women’s rights, currently leads in the polling, but now an issue has surfaced that could become problematic for Mandel. As this press release from Friends of Sherrod Brown explains:
The New Republic is reporting that donations made to Josh Mandel are now under investigation by the FBI
“There was an investigation. I wasn’t involved in it, because I didn’t give the amount of money [others] gave.’ The woman tugged on his arm, urging him to shut up. He apologized, saying he had to go and that his mind was a bit jet-lagged.”
In 2011 Josh Mandel accepted 100k in “questionable contributions” from employees of a Canton area Republican donor. Many of these donations were from donors who appeared to lack the necessary means to make max out contributions and who did not have a significant history of political giving.
Mandel initially shrugged off these donations during an incredibly awkward interview by claiming he was “proud” of them and that he wrote all his donors thank you notes.
Now, Josh Mandel’s campaign has confirmed an FBI investigation is under way.
“Josh Mandel has repeatedly demonstrated he’s nothing more than a politician who can’t be trusted, and it comes as no surprise that his campaign is now part of an investigation over what is charitably called one hundred thousand dollars in questionable contributions from individuals who do not appear to have the means to make contributions of this size,” said Brown campaign spokeswoman Sadie Weiner. “Whether it’s ignoring his job, hiring unqualified political cronies in the Treasurer’s office, or breaking campaign finance laws, Josh Mandel’s too busy looking out for himself to be on the side of Ohio’s middle class.”
Pattern of Contributions From Suarez Employees To Mandel And Rep. Renacci “Raises Red Flags” Because Federal Law Bars Employees From Reimbursing Employees For Giving To Candidates. In May 2012, The New Republic reported “Last year, The Toledo Blade noticed that many large contributions were being made to Renacci by Suarez’s non-executive employees. Seventeen employees, plus six spouses, had given to Renacci, Mandel, or both, with most giving at the maximum allowable level, for a total of $100,000 for each candidate. (Company founder Benjamin Suarez had himself given the maximum to both candidates.) This sort of pattern raises red flags: Federal law bars employers from reimbursing employees for giving to a certain candidate—a method employers could use to evade limits on their own giving.” [The New Republic, 5/18/12]
Suarez Employee Mentioned “Investigation” But Woman With Him Urged Him To Shut Up. In May 2012, The New Republic reported “’The owner of our company is very Republican,’ [Charles Stewart] said. But, he added, ‘He doesn’t push the executives to give.’ Then he said something that piqued my interest: “There was an investigation. I wasn’t involved in it, because I didn’t give the amount of money [others] gave.’ The woman tugged on his arm, urging him to shut up. He apologized, saying he had to go and that his mind was a bit jet-lagged. ‘I just got back from the Orient,’ he said.” [The New Republic, 5/18/12]
Suarez Employee’s Wife Confirmed An FBI Investigation Into Donations. In May 2012, The New Republic reported “On the other side of town, I learned what Stewart had been referring to. I visited the home of Michael Blubaugh, a copywriter at Suarez who had given $5,000 each to Renacci and Mandel last year—and whose wife, Donna, had done the same. They live in a modest subdivision, in a home valued by Zillow at about $142,000. When Donna came to the door, she said she had already been asked about the donations by the FBI. The inquiry had caught her by surprise, she said, ‘because I didn’t know about the rules, so I was like, ‘What?’’ But she said the $20,000 had been given of her and her husband’s free wills. ‘Our house may not look it, because we’re saving for retirement, but my husband makes good money as a copywriter,’ she said. But why give so much to the candidates? ‘My husband made the decision, not me,’ she said.” [The New Republic, 5/18/12]
Rep. Renacci’s Office Confirmed That FBI Contacted Rep. Renacci’s Campaign – Mandel’s Campaign Wouldn’t Comment. In May 2012, The New Republic reported “The next day, I went to Suarez’s headquarters, where corporate counsel Mike Puterbaugh told me, ‘There really isn’t anyone here who would be able to address that.’ A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Cleveland office told me, ‘We can’t comment on any case like that until it is finalized.’ Renacci’s chief of staff, James Slepian, told me that investigators had asked Renacci’s treasurer for records. ‘To our knowledge, no donations made from any donors were made impurely,’ he said. A spokesman for Mandel did not return requests for comment. Regardless of the outcome of any inquiry, Suarez Industries, like Timken, had made plain it wasn’t going to lie low in post-SB5 Ohio.” [The New Republic, 5/18/12]
Mandel Received A Large Number Of Donations From People Who Had Never Given To A Federal Candidate Before. In August 2011, the Toledo Blade reported “But in the current election cycle, a large number of his employees and their wives — many of whom have never before given to federal campaigns — have contributed to two specific congressional candidates: Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Wadsworth), who represents Ohio’s 16th District.” [Toledo Blade, 8/19/11]