Despite Governor Kasich’s insistence that he was uninvolved in the Suarez pay-to-play scandal, federal prosecutors revealed in court today that a February 2011 internal strategy memo proposed that Kasich contact the California Attorney General on Suarez’s behalf. Governor Kasich’s office ultimately followed through on that “to-do-list” and contacted California AG Kamala Harris in April of that year.
Daniel McElhatton, Communications Director for the FitzGerald Campaign, issued the following statement on Kasich’s role in the Suarez pay-to-play scandal.
“It is important for Ohioans to fully understand that Governor Kasich’s administration intervened aggressively on behalf of Mr. Suarez. Governor Kasich’s chief legal counsel Michael Grodhaus, acting in his official capacity, wrote to California Attorney General Kamala Harris requesting she ‘review the actions’ of a California district attorney in relation to an investigation of a Suarez company. This highly questionable action on behalf of Mr. Suarez, who contributed in excess of $22,000 to Governor Kasich, was taken on April 25, 2011 – making Governor Kasich the first to reach out to California officials on the Suarez’s behalf. Any attempts to assert that the Governor did not act on behalf of Mr. Suarez’s are false.”
FACT: Suarez Team Created a Strategy Memo that Relied on Governor Kasich’s Intervention: “A series of letters and emails about Ohio politicians were read during the trial of North Canton businessman Ben Suarez on Monday….Puterbaugh called another email, dated Feb. 24. 2011, a “to-do list” to Kasich, Renacci and Sen. Rob Portman.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/16/2014]
FACT: Suarez Asks Governor Kasich to Reach Out to the Governor of California: “A document on SCI letterhead and signed by Suarez asked Kasich to send a written request to the governor of California to end the lawsuit. The letter also discussed a recall campaign against Napa County prosecutor Gary Liberstein.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/16/2014]
FACT: Suarez Donated Over $22,000 to Kasich Campaign in 2010 [Ohio Secretary of State, 2009-10]
FACT: Top Suarez Official Has Testified that Suarez Explicitly Donated to Kasich Campaign In Order to Solicit Their Intervention on California Case: “Suarez spoke frequently of how Mandel, Renacci and Gov. John Kasich could “use their positions to help us resolve the California matter,” said Michael Giorgio, a top Suarez financial officer for nearly three decades. Suarez’s company was bleeding hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and other costs because the U.S. attorney’s office was raising legal questions about the Ohioan’s California operation.” [Columbus Dispatch, 6/12/2014]
FACT: Kasich’s Chief Legal Counsel Wrote Letter to California AG on Suarez’s Behalf: In 2011, Kasich’s chief counsel Michael Grodhaus asked California Attorney General Kamala Harris to “review the actions” of a California district attorney who was investigating Suarez Corporations, a North Canton-based company, for alleged violations of California’s consumer protection laws. “SCI believes that it is being unjustly attacked by the Napa County District Attorney for unknown violations of some of California’s consumer protection laws,” wrote Grodhaus in a letter dated April 25, 2011. “Thus if your staff could review the actions of the Napa County District Attorney to determine whether anything improper has occurred or is occurring in this purported investigation of SCI and report back to me, I would very much appreciate it.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/06/13, 11/07/13, 11 /08/13]