Collecting coin

Good news for Sherrod Brown:

Large campaign contributions from a Northern Ohio businessman and his employees to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel have prompted a federal investigation, the campaigns confirmed Monday. The probe is centered around more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from employees at the Suarez Corporation, a Canton-based direct marketing firm owned by Benjamin Suarez, a frequent financial supporter of Republican causes. The Blade reported in August that 16 of the company’s employees and some of their spouses gave maximum allowable $5,000 contributions to one or both candidates. Many of the employees had never given to federal campaigns before, lived in modest homes, and held job titles such as “copywriter.”
Mr. Mandel’s campaign also confirmed the investigation, but would not say if federal authorities had requested documents from the campaign. “The campaign is aware of the investigation and is fully cooperating,” said Travis Considine, spokesman for the Mandel campaign. “Neither the campaign nor anyone associated with it is a target of the investigation.”

Mr. Suarez, whose direct marketing firm sells items ranging from space heaters to collectible coins, is a big supporter of Republican candidates. He and his wife have contributed $40,000 to political action committees that support Mr. Renacci and Mr. Mandel. But in the current election cycle, many of his employees, including non-executive staffers, joined him in making contributions, suddenly turning Suarez Corporation into a fund-raising powerhouse. Overall, Mr. Suarez, his employees, and their spouses gave $100,000 to Mr. Mandel’s campaign and $100,250 to Mr. Renacci’s campaign.
Campaign finance experts told The Blade in August that the contributions raise questions, especially because some of the employees own modest homes and listed their occupations as “writer,” “copywriter,” or merely “marketing.” Federal campaign finance law prohibits a donor from contributing in someone else’s name, especially if it’s an attempt to get around the $5,000 giving limit. Similarly, election law prohibits a corporation from using bonuses or other methods of reimbursing employees for their contributions.
Most of the company’s employees have also refused to comment on the matter. Of the 11 employees The Blade called Monday two declined to comment and the rest did not respond to messages.Spokesmen for the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland declined to comment.

This is just an initial investigation at this point, but it is really funny to see it if you-all remember Ohio’s “coingate scandal” which had to do with investing workers comp money in rare coins and using “conduits” to get around campaign finance law and raise money for then-President Bush:


Tom Noe, whose failed rare-coin deal with the state has triggered multiple investigations and rocked Ohio’s Republican leadership, was charged yesterday with illegally funneling $45,400 to President Bush’s re-election campaign.
Gregory A. White, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced a three-count indictment against Mr. Noe, saying he used two dozen people as conduits to make illegal campaign contributions at a $2,000-a-seat fund-raiser in Columbus.
In doing so, Mr. Noe skirted federal campaign finance funding limits while meeting a pledge to raise $50,000 for the Oct. 30, 2003, fund-raiser. The Bush campaign later named Mr. Noe a Pioneer for raising at least $100,000 overall.


Mr. Suarez, whose direct marketing firm sells items ranging from space heaters to collectible coins, is a big supporter of Republican candidates.

What is it with Republicans, conduits, and coins?

29 replies
  1. 1
    dmsilev says:

    What is it with Republicans, conduits, and coins?

    Gold. Gold! GOLD!

    Just a guess.

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Speaking of campaign contributions, here’s a very long and detailed article about Newt, Inc., which hasn’t been having a very good go of it lately.

  3. 3
    David Hunt says:

    The ad space that is always between the post and the comments is currently showing a gold coin ad on my browser. Much to my amusement. I’ve never seen those on this site (or any that I recall). I never, ever go to such sites or search about gold prices. Does anyone know if the ad-choosing algorithm somehow take the post content into account in some fashion when choosing ads to display?

  4. 4
    Walker says:

    Dmsilev got it in one. My father was a goldbug in the 80s and was into coins. Lots of thieving predators in that business.

  5. 5
    sherparick says:

    “Freedom” means the freedome to grift the marks.

  6. 6
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Gold coins are a red flag; you’re dealing with a black helicopter one-world government lunatic, a Paultard, or a Randy Weaver type who’s preparing to shoot it out with Obama’s Jackbooted Thugs (R). A logical business for those of the Republican persuasion.

    They also like coins as it gives them a longing for Dickensian England, where you could run over a child in the street, throw the father a coin and drive on your way, grousing about how the little urchin put a dent and a few bloodstains in your lovely motorcoach.

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:

    What is it with Republicans, conduits, and coins?

    grifters gotta grift, Kay

  8. 8

    This could get really interesting. Josh Mandel is such a scumbucket. Rather like the Fox News Host know (sadly) currently known as the Governor of Ohio (though he thinks of himself as King John I). I can only hope this will be as big as coingate, with less damage to Ohio funding.

    @David Hunt: That;s kind of the point of the algorithms, and also what makes the ads comical.

  9. 9
    Kay says:


    I, personally, had a lot of fun with the workers comp/rare coins angle. I’d keep my face completely neutral and say “they invested workers comp money in collectible coins” to people here. I’d get reactions like “those bastards!”.

    It’s like stealing from disabled people! Well, it IS stealing from disabled people.

  10. 10
    Fwiffo says:

    It’s an accepted part of life among coin collectors that the hobby has a huge number of shysters. They sell various kinds of crap via HSN, “investing” web sites, eBay, direct marketing, etc. It’s like learning to live with earthquakes in California. It’s just an unfortunate part of the landscape.

    A popular scam is to sell low-quality, old US gold coins a huge markup over their bullion value on the basis of them being safer investments because they’re “collectible”. While it’s true that they’re collectible, the supply greatly outstrips demand for all but the rarest dates and varieties, or very high grade coins. There are only a few collectors that can really afford more than a few gold coins, and there are actually a lot of them out there, so most are only worth bullion value.

    Wall street has also tried to make coin-based derivatives a few years back, though the experiment mostly failed because coins generally don’t out-perform inflation.

  11. 11
    Ruckus says:

    To bad they don’t recognize the bastards more often. Or that it takes something as brazenly stupid as investing state monies in coins to have the bastardness recognized.

  12. 12
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Does anyone know what federal election law says about paying employees to go vote (specifically saying that while you travel to voting, vote, and return are counted as company time) or providing company sponsored transportation to voting sites? Especially if it is known that voting a certain way – though not directly stated by the company – is beneficial to the company?

  13. 13
    Schlemizel says:

    Between this & the stuff about Cisco I am reminded of another scumbag Internet company. Cabletron once held a big party for all its suppliers. At the party the introduced the Republican Congressional candidate & stated that they REALLY liked him & had contributed to his campaign . . . and BTW, if you expected to continue doing business with them you had better do the same!

    It didn’t end well for them

  14. 14
    patrick II says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    They also like coins because rubes will pay an extra 50% over the price of the gold weight if it has a nifty crest on it.

  15. 15
    John X. says:

    The coin and collectible market is also a center of money laundering. Coins are high dollar, and there’s enough slop in the value of the goods to hide a lot of dirty money.

  16. 16
    slag says:

    What’s that saying about corrupt Republicans and bad pennies?

  17. 17
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Schlemizel: Cabletron’s CEO, Craig Benson, subsequently ran for and won the governorship of NH. Interestingly, the Cabletron IPO in 1989 was, if I’m not mistaken, the biggest IPO in history (peanuts now.)

  18. 18
    RalfW says:

    Apparently hammer-clumsy, charmless former PBS remodeler Bob Vila has been hucking EdenPURE heaters, a staple of Suarez Corp Industries.

  19. 19
    Kay says:


    Didn’t you just know he was a scammer?

    I (literally) would not hire him as a contractor, just based on the 5 or 6 times I’ve heard him speak.

  20. 20
    Betsy says:

    Why isn’t James O’Keeffe on this??

  21. 21
    Ned Ryerson says:

    Benjamin Suarez? The same Benjamin Suarez who wrote “7 Steps to Freedom II: How to Escape the American Rat Race” which taught us how to get rich stealing money from people?

    The same Benjamin Suarez who sold “No-Hunger Bread,” a diet aid Suarez claimed could cure cancer?

    The same Suarez who ran a pyramid scheme called “International Home Shopping” that got sanctioned by the Ohio Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Service? Who has been sued by Attorneys General nationwide for fraud?

    Yeah, him.

    Read more here:

    BTW, he’s crazy. Expect him to hire private investigators to follow you, park outside your house, film you, and harass you for mentioning him. Have a nice day!

  22. 22
    Abstruse says:

    I got this here sack of Krugerrands under the cot in my fallout shelter for when the race war finally takes to the streets and “money” loses all value.


    I tried to tell him that if he really wanted to know what had value in a post monetary society he should spend a season hiking the AT (I know that’s got another meaning around here, but I’m an AT through hiker so shut up, that’s why.) to learn what items did and did not have intrinsic value.

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Well, there are no pimp hats involved, for one thing.

  24. 24

    “Gold is the corpse of value” -Goto Dengo.

    Stephenson’s (fictional) Nipponese magnate was talking about those who hid hoards of gold at the closing days of WW2.

    But his words certainly do seem to apply to the contemporary GOP.

  25. 25
    Kay says:

    @Ned Ryerson:

    that got sanctioned by the Ohio Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Service? Who has been sued by Attorneys General nationwide for fraud?

    Oh, good. He’s a genuine crook! I will look into it.

  26. 26
    phil says:

    How stupid. There are plenty of legal avenues to donate more money, which will then be used indirectly (in theory) to support those campaigns. This guy just wanted to be seen as a big shot bundler by those campaigns, without doing the work.

  27. 27
    Raptor Fence says:

    Since you need an ID to board an airplane, cash a check, and, apparently, vote. Why don’t you need one to donate to a campaign?

  28. 28
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Those of us with longer memories recall that this is exactly what George Steinbrenner got in trouble for back in the early 1970s.

    Steinbrenner told [Reporter James] Polk a story which Polk did not believe. Polk then went to American Shipbuilding employees. He found an accountant who earned $16,000 in salary had contributed $3000 to Dedicated Americans for Good Government and another $3000 to Dedicated Volunteers for a Better America. The accountant said they were personal contributions, not corporate contributions which of course were illegal. Polk learned that the employee had made out the campaign checks at the same time he had received a surprise bonus from American Shipbuilding.
    -Jimmy Breslin, How the Good Guys Finally Won, p.24.

  29. 29
    Josh G. says:

    Coin collecting is a legitimate hobby, but it attracts lots of scammers and goldbugs (not mutually exclusive categories by any means!) and it’s very easy for an unwary buyer to get ripped off.

    A good rule of thumb is that ANY advertisement on TV for “rare” coins is a scam. I’ve never seen one that had anything close to what I would consider a good deal. Most U.S. gold coins (pre-1933) are worth a moderate premium over bullion value (larger premium for the smaller denominations, and for rarer types like the $3 gold coin). Foreign gold coins are almost all worth little or nothing above spot bullion price, as are the post-1986 “American Eagle” bullion coins (and their foreign equivalents). These are what the scammers like Goldline usually sell at ridiculous markups.

    I wouldn’t buy anything gold at this time – it’s a bubble, there is nothing in the fundamentals indicating why gold should be at its current insane levels. When gold drops back to ~$500 an ounce, I might consider buying some in anticipation of the next bubble.

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