Ohio GOP addicted to dirty money
Political class freedom redistribution (Part 3)
According to Associated Press reporter Mark Gillispie, in November 2014 telemarketing millionaire Ben Suarez was sentenced to 15 months in prison for witness tampering.(3) Gillispie also reports that Suarez was acquitted of conspiracy to commit campaign finance laws including making corporate donations, donations in others’ names, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements. In terms of a cover-up, this case ranks right up there with the PMA Group, a Washington lobbying firm that engineered illegal contributions to dozens of congressmen, including Dave Hobson and Steve Austria, with one difference. Hobson and Austria were so arrogant and detached from reality they did not return the dirty money as failed Senate candidate Josh Mandel and U.S. Rep James Renacci did in the Suarez case, but there are striking similarities.
Both cases had the obligatory fall guy, Ben Suarez and PMA’s Paul Magliocchetti; both cases had co-conspirators turn states evidence, Michael Giorgio and Mark Magliocchetti, respectively; and of course in both cases the politicians that received the dirty money walked away as clean as a whistle. Federal prosecutors had a strong case against Suarez which could have resulted in a maximum sentence of 12 years and a $1 million fine. Suarez’ company could have also been fined $20 million. In the least, the Department of Justice wanted broader sentencing guidelines in the Suarez case, but Ohio U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Gaughan stuck with the low range and finally sentenced Suarez to the minimum in that range. Suarez got fifteen months and a nominal fine for witness tampering. The other campaign finance violations were dismissed. Something doesn’t add up.
OCGJ believes the light sentence goes a long way to substantiate a cover-up. Suarez has vowed to appeal the 15-month sentence, but in any case, a much heavier sentence would certainly have raised a red flag in the national media. The big question that needs to be answered is why did Judge Gaughan dismiss the campaign finance violations that were validated by Michael Giorgio’s testimony under his plea bargain as witness for the prosecution? OCGJ’s sources listed below report that U.S. Senate candidate Mandel and Congressman Renacci both intervened on Suarez’ behalf “around the time the donations were made.”(1)
Suarez Corporation, a telemarketing firm was under pressure from 10 California district attorneys for alleged deceptive business practices. Around the time of Suarez’ contributions, Ohio Treasurer Mandel, in a letter to California Treasurer Bill Locklear, wrote that the litigation could cost Ohio 561 jobs, and (threatened) that Mandel would urge Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to sue California prosecutors. Mandel also asked Renacci in writing to craft a congressional bill that would limit how states can enforce advertising and product labeling for goods sold nationally. Renacci also sent a letter to Governor Kasich urging he work with California Governor Jerry Brown to find a “common sense solution” to the problem(1). The bottom line here: Around the time they received $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions, two sleazy Ohio politicians went to bat for the sleazy telemarketing industry. This is a classic federalist confrontation between Ohio and California that Ohio lost, as they should have. California is trying to protect their citizen class against the Ohio political class who are defending aggressive telemarketing tactics in the wake of illegal campaign contributions. You would think Attorney General Mike DeWine and other Ohio elected officials would be cheering California on, but instead they came down on the side of shady, disrespected telemarketers.
Of course Ben Suarez should be held accountable for breaking the law, but in this case he wasn’t; well maybe a bit, but not for the campaign finance charges which Judge Gaughan dropped.
Here’s OCGJ’s take on the case:
- Someone had to pay, and it’s rarely, if ever an elected official unless they do something outside the law that really makes the political class look bad, and it only happens when a whistleblower pushes back hard or when campaign donors like Ben Suarez become an embarrassment regardless of what Mandel and Renacci knew and when they knew it.
- The political class is addicted to money, legal or otherwise, because they know that power follows the money and money is the mother’s milk of politics.
- The fall guy goes down, but not too hard. The political class understands that if you exceed a certain pain threshold, the fall guy will push back even harder, especially one like Suarez who is really angry and has resources. In our opinion, we have not seen the last of Ben Suarez.
- Taking someone’s personal freedom away is like extracting taxes that undermine economic freedom. How much is too much that it takes the citizen class past the tipping point?
OCGJ led off this post with a bit of an understatement. Actually both wings of the political class are addicted to money, dirty or otherwise, and instead of doing their due diligence on campaign contributions they gladly take the money from whatever source and look the other way. Why ask the question if you can’t stand the answer?
And why should they not take the dirty money when the corruption-friendly judges are there to cover their backs when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
- Mark Gillispie, People close to case”: Ohio politicians subpoenaed, Associated Press, June 2, 2014,
- Joe Vardon, Suarez found not guilty on campaign finance charges, guilty of witness tampering, The Columbus Dispatch, July 1, 2014,
- Mark Gillispie, Suarez facing prison for witness tampering, Associated Press, November 13, 2014.