There is a scandal unfolding involving Josh Mandel.
As you will recall, Mandel ran against Senator Sherrod Brown in 2012. Billionaires poured millions into his campaign, so much so that Mandel became a poster boy for Citizens United. The billionaires paid millions for horrible generic-wingnut campaign ads that moved no one, but all kinds of consultants and (certainly) media outlets profited from the Unlimited Corporate Cash flooding this state so it wasn’t a total loss. Sherrod Brown won handily, but Josh Mandel remains the state treasurer in Ohio.
Mandel has a donor who was indicted. The donor runs Canton-based Suarez Corporation:
The 35-page indictment charges Suarez, 72, with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government; conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws; violation of campaign finance laws contributions by a corporation; making false statements, obstruction of an official investigation; witness tampering; and obstruction of justice.
The indictment also charges Michael Giorgio, 61, of Cuyahoga Falls, the chief financial officer at Suarez’s company, with assisting Suarez in writing large campaign checks in the names of employees and their wives in an effort to “disguise and conceal from the public and from federal agents” the true source of the illegal contributions.
According to the indictment, Suarez and Giorgio recruited employees and others to act as conduits of the illegal contributions, and wrote checks in their own names and those of their spouses with the understanding they would be reimbursed by the company.
Suarez and Giorgio at first disguised the payments as salary, and later as profit sharing. They inflated the payments to cover taxes, so the full amount of the contribution would be reimbursed, according to the indictment.
it happened in Cleveland, where a federal grand jury returned indictments against the owner and chief financial officer of a direct marketing company based in North Canton that sells a motley mix of products—space heaters, collectible coins, jewelry, and more.
Think of conduits as “straw donors” like a straw buyer. They’re not the actual donor, but they’re acting as a donor. Those of you who are students of political corruption may remember our last huge GOP scandal also involved conduits and….
Coingate. What is it with conservatives and collectible coins?
Anyway. Mandel, acting in his capacity as Ohio treasurer, wrote a letter to the treasurer of the state of California. The letter is bizarre. It demands that California stop investigating Mandel’s crooked donor, the Suarez Corporation:
California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office was surprised two years ago when it received a letter from Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel on behalf of now-indicted businessman Benjamin Suarez, a Lockyer spokesman said Wednesday.
The letter, which asked Lockyer to rein in potential lawsuits against Suarez’s Canton-based direct-marketing company or risk a possible lawsuit by Ohio, “read like a letter from an ill-informed constituent,” Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar said in a telephone interview.
“It is pretty amazing coming from a state treasurer,” Dresslar said. “He should know better.”
Mandel sent the letter on May 23, 2011, shortly before a number of Suarez’s employees and their spouses began donating a total of $100,000 to the Republican treasurer’s failed U.S. Senate campaign. Suarez and his company’s chief financial officer, Michael Giorgio, were indicted by a federal grand jury last month on charges of using the employees to skirt campaign finance rules.
The California treasurer responded, and told Mandel that he doesn’t investigate wrongdoers, prosecutors do, but he’ll be happy to pass Mandel’s shrieking accusations about prosecutorial abuses along to the proper party.
Mandel has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and a treasurer’s office spokesman said Mandel doesn’t remember writing the letter to Lockyer or a second letter to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, a Wadsworth Republican, on Suarez’s behalf.