Listen, this isn’t going to come as a surprise, but I’m no Josh Mandel fan. I know, I know, shocking. If I had to come up with three words to describe him they would be arrogant, opportunist, and liar. Granted, I’m a jaded leftist political blogger sitting in my parents’ basement surrounded by posters of Karl Marx, Che Guevara and Stalin, so I’m sure my view is just a little skewed. But I will give Josh Mandel this – he is polite. So polite in fact that when asked to explain allegations about his campaign collecting over $100,000 in shady campaign contributions his only explanation was that the campaign writes everyone who donates to the campaign a thank you letter.
No, seriously, that was his answer.
When asked to explain why he thought these allegations regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars of shady campaign contributions weren’t ligetimate his answer was that they weren’t because he writes everyone thank you letters.
WKYC:So you don’t think this raises legitimate questions about this…
WKYC:No? (4 seconds of silence) Well, what would you describe the question, how would you describe the questions raised here?
(Editor’s note: To fully appreciate this you first have to watch the actual interview. Think of the worst awkward silence you can and then watch Josh Mandel blow it out of the water.)
Mandel:Well, I think that citizens can choose to support whoever they want to choose to support. We appreciate that support and we always write thank you notes and say thank you…
Somewhere Tom Noe is sitting in a prison cell with his head in his hands and is speechless. You know what he is thinking right now? He is thinking that if he had just written some thank you letters back in 2004 he would be a free man. It isn’t a coincidence that people are comparing these two events to each other. Tom Noe is sitting in a federal prison for breaking federal campaign finance law by funneling illegal campaign contributions to the Bush Campaign through multiple parties. The only thing that is different is that Josh Mandel is the person receiving the contributions this time and seems to be content not answering legitimate questions about the legality of those donations. (Also, I really hope the PR strategy wasn’t, ‘let’s go on TV to clear the air about these donations and when asked the question about the allegations sit in silence for what feels like an eternity and then deny you have done anything wrong’. Because that’s not a good strategy if that was it.)
This charming episode with WKYC comes on the heels of a not so flattering piece by the Associate Press titled, “Josh Mandel’s Ohio Senate bid shaken by questionable campaign cash, broken promises”. Ouch.
It seems that no matter how many times Josh Mandel avoids questions about these contributions, and refuses to admit that something isn’t right here, the more he gets into trouble. But when you are as arrogant as Mandel is, and you really believe the rules don’t apply to you, these sorts of things happen. Mandel is someone who believes nothing can go wrong, because nothing has gone wrong yet. I wonder how much longer it takes him to realized that running for U.S. Senate is an entirely different game than anything he has played before and that his rules don’t work here.