For nearly a year now, Jim Renacci has been defending $100,000 in “tainted” campaign contributions he received from Benjamin Suarez and his employees.
The FBI opened an investigation after the Toledo Blade revealed a set of extremely large – often maxed-out – donations was made to Republicans Renacci and Josh Mandel by 17 employees at Suarez, many of whom never made contributions to candidates in the past.
While the FBI investigation is still ongoing, and results have yet to be released, Benjamin Suarez has defended himself and his employees by claiming the entire investigation is nothing more than “communist Obama” using the FBI to “terrorize” his employees.
Josh Mandel, not particularly known for his honesty or trustworthiness, gave back a similar amount of money from Suarez employees months ago. But Renacci has resisted. $100K is a lot of money to a congressional campaign. And Renacci wasn’t going to give it up – despite the fact that it clearly seems to have been given illegally – without a fight.
This refusal earned Jim the honor of being named “Corrupt Republican of the Month” by the DCCC in June.
Well it seems the pressure finally got to him and, according to the Plain Dealer, Renacci has agreed to give back the money.
But unlike Mandel, who quietly gave the money back without any comment or fanfare , Renacci made the announcement in a two page letter attacking his opponent, Representative Betty Sutton, accusing her of “empty rhetoric”, “false personal attacks” and of intimidating his family. It’s seven paragraphs of ranting and raving, whining and moaning about what he calls unfair attacks by Democrats.
He makes the point of specifically calling out one accusation by the DCCC (not the Sutton campaign) about Chinese prostitutes which, to be fair, Politifact did shoot down. But it’s worth noting that Renacci has had many of his own statements analyzed by Politifact with similar results: 3 Mostly false, 2 False and 1 Pants on Fire so far. Including one about Sutton not attending town hall meetings, which he again repeats in his email.
Pot calling the kettle black?
The whole thing reminds me of my 4 year old trying to explain why she HAD to pull her sister’s hair: you pulled my hair … but you pulled my hair first … but you pulled my hair longer … boo hoo.
Renacci finally gets to point in paragraph six, saying he’s giving back the donations so Sutton can longer use them as a “tool” for her campaign.
It’s important to note that Renacci never claims he’s returning the donations because it’s the right thing to do, or because he’s worried about the perception of taking and holding potentially illegal campaign contributions. He doesn’t address when he found out there were probably “tainted” or why it’s taken him so long to come clean.
Instead he continues to claim what he did was “proper” and stresses that he’s only giving back the money because he’s sick of hearing his opponent talk about it.
Politics is a rough business. Things often go wrong and feelings often get hurt. The sign of a good candidate – and a good leader – is how those situations get handled.
Voters are looking for someone who will take responsibility for problems with their campaign and someone who handles the inevitable political attacks in stride and with confidence, not someone who writes whiny letters to his opponent shirking responsibility and claiming the other side started the hair pulling.