FACT CHECK: Josh Mandel Accepted 100K In Campaign Cash Now Connected To An FBI Investigation.

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FACT CHECK: Josh Mandel Accepted 100K In Campaign Cash Now Connected To An FBI Investigation.

JOSH CLAIMS: We have donations from all types of Ohioans across the state.

THE TRUTH: Josh Mandel was shamed into returning $105,000 in shady campaign donations after their connection to an ongoing FBI investigation was revealed.

1. Josh Mandel accepted more than $100,000 from employees of a Canton-based marketing firm, whose job titles and home values suggested that they couldn’t afford to make the donations. [Toledo Blade, 8/19/11]

2. The donations sparked an FBI investigation into the possibility that the employees who donated money to Mandel were illegally reimbursed by the Republican president of Suarez Corporation Industries. [The New Republic, 5/18/12]

3. After first claiming that he was “proud” of the donations, Josh Mandel was shamed into returning the $105,000 to the donors after the FBI investigation became public. [The New Republic, 5/18/12]

New Donors Maxed Out To Mandel In A Questionable Fashion. In August 2011, The Toledo Blade stated, “When northern Ohio businessman Benjamin Suarez makes a big campaign contribution, few people are surprised. He owns a direct marketing company that does $100 million annually in sales, and he has a history of giving to Republicans. 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]

Campaign Finance Expert Said Certain Donations To Mandel Were Unordinary. In August 2011, The Toledo Blade reported, “Among the employees who gave, many of them are managers, directors, or executives, according to federal election filings. Some of them, however, list their occupation as ‘writer,’ ‘copywriter,’ or merely ‘marketing.’ Campaign finance experts said it was especially surprising to see individuals with those titles giving such large amounts. ‘A $5,000 contribution from someone who makes $300,000 a year is completely normal,’ said Paul S. Ryan, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center in Washington. ‘A $5,000 campaign contribution from someone who makes $30,000 a year strikes me as unordinary.’” [Toledo Blade, 8/19/11]

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]

Suarez Corp. Industries Confirmed The FBI Was Investigating Contributions It’s Employees Made To Josh Mandel And Jim Renacci.  In May 2012, The Canton Repository wrote “The FBI said Monday it’s investigating campaign contributions made by employees of the Jackson Township-based Suarez Corp. Industries.  The company confirmed that FBI agents have questioned its employees about large contributions to the campaigns of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.”  [Canton Repository, 5/21/12]

Mandel Returned Over $100,000 In Donations AFTER FBI Investigation Into Donation Became Public.  In May 2012, the Associated Press reported “Ohio treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel has returned $105,000 in campaign donations that are under federal investigation. Mandel’s campaign sent a letter this week to the Suarez Corporation Industries near Canton saying the money was returned to 21 employees of the direct-marketing firm. The letter says the money was returned out of an abundance of caution and called it an appropriate move until the investigation is complete. FBI investigators have questioned Suarez Corp. employees about combined donations totaling $100,000 each to Mandel and freshman U.S. Rep. James Renacci.” [Associated Press, 5/24/12]