In a blockbuster report this morning, The New Republic uncovered that the FBI is investigating a slew of campaign donations to our absentee Treasurer Josh Mandel and his congressional buddy Jim Renacci.
News of yet another investigation is truly shocking, even for the likes of Mandel and Renacci, for whom scandals ordinarily constitute another day at the office.
As reported by The Toledo Blade in August of last year, the donations, totaling $100,000 each to Mandel and Renacci, came from just 16 employees of a marketing firm owned by Republican donor Benjamin Suarez, along with six of their spouses. Each made max contributions of $5,000 to the campaign coffers of Mandel, Renacci or both Republicans seeking reelection. In total, some couples donated as much as $20,000.
Here’s the kicker: many of the donors appear to have lacked the financial means with which to make such enormous contributions. Others didn’t have the donor histories you would expect from contributors suddenly maxing out to campaigns
Alec MacGillis at The New Republic confirms this morning that the FBI has launched an investigation into the donations to Mandel and Renacci:
“The owner of our company is very Republican,” [Charles Stewart, the director of merchandising at Suarez] 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. …
It gets worse:
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,
Last year, Renacci shrugged off any allegations of wrongdoing regarding the Suarez donations, despite the fact that Suaraz employees were suddenly his top donors, according to OpenSecrets.org, moving up from number nine on the list, with a single donation of $10,000 in 2010, to number one this year.
In 2012 Suarez employees contributed even more money than the employees of Timken, the company that had previously been the largest donor for Renacci. Timken was considered so important that John Boehner personally helped redraw Renacci’s congressional district so the company’s headquarters would still fall into Renacci’s district.
Watch Josh Mandel’s awkward answer on his questionable contributions here…
In light of the FBI’s investigation, I wonder: When will the next shoe drop?
Josh Mandel and Jim Renacci have already demonstrated there are no barriers to what they’ll do for a quick buck. Between throwing their next fundraisers in places like the Bahamas and Key Largo, Josh Mandel and Jim Renacci ought to come clean by immediately revealing to Ohioans everything they know about these tainted donations.