Treasurer Josh Mandel asked North Canton businessman Benjamin Suarez to raise $100,000 for Mandel’s Senate campaign, according to a federal indictment charging Suarez illegally funneling about $200,000 to Mandel and a Representative Jim Renacci.
Suarez and Michael Giorgio of Suarez Corp., were the only ones charged in a nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday.
The thirty-five-page indictment raises questions about how much Mandel knew about what the two men were doing.
Suarez and Giorgio raised money in 2011 for Mandel’s failed 2012 U.S. Senate bid and Rep. Renacci’s successful 2012 campaign. Suarez and Giorgio are accused of getting Suarez Corp. employees to donate, then reimbursing them with company funds. Suarez and Giorgio pleaded not guilty in federal court this week.
According to the indictment, a May 2011 memo to Suarez from Mandel’s campaign that outlined the request for money included a handwritten note from Mandel and a form that stated that “corporate contributions are prohibited by law.”
A few weeks later, a Mandel campaign aide sent emails to a Suarez company official asking him to “give me a quick buzz” regarding a letter “I am working on today,” and later to discuss the company’s “business interests.” On April 8, 2011, that aide sent two items to Suarez himself: a handwritten note from Suarez that said “Mike Give $30M (thousand)” and a memo referring to the “Ohio Senate Fund, a joint fundraising committee.”
Those documents were withheld from a grand jury by Suarez, Giorgio and the company, the indictment alleges.
The indictment also outlines correspondence between Suarez officials and Renacci’s campaign, but not to the level of the interactions outlined with Mandel’s campaign.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the investigation is continuing but would not comment further.
Mandel announced that he will give his 2010 Suarez money to Michael’s House, which cares for children who have been abused.
Secretary of State Jon Husted donated $5,000 he received from Suarez to Dan’s Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Ohio State University.
On Thursday, Gov. John Kasich and Auditor Dave Yost donated money they had received from Suarez in 2010 to charities.
Renacci will not make a donation; the 2010 money has been spent.
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