FitzGerald Campaign Press Secretary Lauren Hitt released the following statement on the Benjamin Suarez trial.
“While the Suarez trial is now over, the culture of pay to play in the Governor’s administration and the Ohio Republican Party is still a serious concern. A recent report by the Associated Press shows that in addition to Josh Mandel and Congressman Rennaci’s involvement in the Suarez scheme, AG Mike DeWine has cultivated an atmosphere of pay to play in the state’s Attrorney General’s office. As the chief executive in this state, it is time for Kasich to stop claiming ignorance about the goings on in his own state party. After changing his story several times last week, Governor Kasich needs to set the record straight about his own involvement with Benjamin Suarez’s obstruction of justice, and set an example for his party.”
Governor Kasich has yet to explain 1) Why his office changed their decision a month after denying Suarez’s inital request and decided to have Kasich’s chief-legal-counsel write to the California Attorney General on Suarez’s behalf? 2) Who instructed his chief-legal-counsel to write on Suarez’s behalf? 3) If the chief-legal-counsel wrote to the California Attorney General on his own accord, what disciplinary action was or will be taken?
Ohio Democratic Party Response to Suarez Verdict
Trial evidence shines light on Mandel’s continued misuse of public office
This afternoon, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court-Northern District of Ohio convicted Josh Mandel donor Benjamin Suarez on one count of obstruction of justice.
In response to today’s verdict, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:
“Today’s verdict confirms what we have said for the past three years. Josh Mandel used his official office to benefit a donor to his failed Senate campaign and that donor then took steps to cover up Josh’s efforts to protect the donor’s business. From this trial, we learned that Josh Mandel was more personally involved to protect his donor than he has publicly acknowledged. It’s yet another example of how Mandel has repeatedly failed to tell the truth and has abused the office for his political gain.”
“Illegal campaign cash scheme began after donor met with Mandel”[The Columbus Dispatch, (06/05/14)]
“[Assistant U.S. district attorney Carole] Rendon also said that in a private meeting on May 13, 2011—right at the time Suarez and the fundraiser for Mandel’s 2012 U.S. Senate campaign were working on a letter to the California state treasurer—Mandel asked Suarez to raise him $100,000. A stack of checks was collected by Mandel’s fundraiser from Suarez right after that letter was mailed, Rendon said.”
“Calls from Suarez to Mandel days before SCI workers donated”[Cleveland Plain Dealer, (06/23/2014)]
“On Sept. 29, 2011, FBI agents went to the homes of the SCI donors. Then between Oct. 1, 2011 and Oct. 12, 2011, there were phone calls between Suarez’s phone line and Mandel’s.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (6/23/2014), “Ben Suarez trial: Calls from Suarez to Mandel days before SCI workers donated.”]
The same testimony also showed a number of phone calls between Suarez and Mandel as Mandel’s office worked on a letter to the California State Treasurer on behalf of Benjamin Suarez—a letter that was nearly verbatim of a draft Suarez suggested Mandel’s campaign that Mandel should send.
“Government’s case against Suarez at odds with statements by Mandel and staff” [Columbus Dispatch, (06/06/14)]
“When these letters first came to light through court records in the fall of 2013, Chris Berry, a spokesman for the treasurer’s office, told The Dispatch that Mandel ‘does not recall being personally involved with these constituent letters.’”
“Most manufacturers where workers earned treasurer’s new ‘Ohio Strong’ award give to GOP” [Associated Press, (05/29/14)]
“Campaign finance filings reviewed by the AP show Mandel’s re-election campaign received donations from executives at three of the firms within weeks of their skilled-trades employees being recognized. One executive said his contribution was solicited.”
“The findings raise questions about whether Mandel is using the nonmonetary Ohio Strong Award he launched in March to reward and attract political contributors as he faces Democratic state Rep. Connie Pillich this fall.”
“Mandel’s tax-funded phone chats raise questions” [The Dayton Daily News, 06/08/14]
“The calls have the effect of introducing Mandel to tens of thousands of voters—invaluable to someone who is running for re-election”
“‘It sounds very much like electioneering to me,’ Ohio State University political scientist Paul Beck said. ‘To spend treasurer’s office money on that when the topics range so far and wide from what the treasurer’s office does makes it more electioneering-like.’”