Josh Mandel Continues To Use Treasurer’s Office For Personal Political Benefit

New revelations on Ohio Strong, Benjamin Suarez, and Tele-Town Halls once again show Mandel’s use of Treasurer’s office for his personal political benefit

COLUMBUS – Since May 29th, members of the Ohio press corps have shown us how far Josh Mandel is willing to go to use his office—and taxpayer money—for his own personal political benefit.

Strike One: Ohio Strong

“Most manufacturers where workers earned treasurer’s new ‘Ohio Strong’ award give to GOP” [The 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.”

Strike Two: Benjamin Suarez

“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.”

“Government’s case against Suarez at odds with statements by Mandel and staff” [The 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.’”

Strike Three: Taxpayer-funded Tele-Town Halls

“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.’”

Multiple Indicators This Week Show Ohio Economy Stalling

Ohio Has Second Highest Increase in Unemployment Claims 

COLUMBUS – This week, multiple indicators have shown that Ohio’s economy is stalling.  Ohio had the second largest increase in initial unemployment compensation claims last week.  For the second month in a row, the state reported revenues coming in below estimates by the Kasich administration.

In response, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“With ConAgra closing, unemployment claims rising, state revenues worse than expected and 25,000 frustrated unemployed Ohioans giving up their job search, it’s clear that Ohio is falling behind. Before John Kasich was elected, our state’s job growth was better than the national average. Thanks to Kasich’s policies, Ohio now lags behind 35 other states in job growth. It’s just more proof that Kasich’s policies don’t work for middle class Ohioans.”

BACKGROUND

For the 18th straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to today’s jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “This is the 18th consecutive month that Ohio’s job growth rate was below the national average.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (5/16/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate down to 5.7% because of job gains, but also shrinking labor force.”]

Last week, Ohio had the second largest increase in initially filed weekly claims in the United States.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (6/5/2014).]

Ohio revenues fall below Kasich Administration’s estimates for second month in a row due to falling revenues largely across the board.  Due to the personal income, financial institutions, commercial activity and sales taxes all coming below estimates in May, the State collected over $100 million less than projected.  [Source: Gongwer (6/5/2014), “State Tax Revenue Drops Against Estimates For Second Month In A Row.”]

ConAgra Foods announces its Marion and Morral plants, laying off 170 employees.  This morning, ConAgra Foods announced that it would close two Ohio plants in a cost-saving operations consolidation move.  In 2012, 25 positions were eliminated at the ConAgra plant in Marion, resulting in a reduction of shifts.  [Source:  Marion Star (6/6/2014), “ConAgra Foods closing plants.”]

Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]

Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  In 2010, the number of unemployed Ohioans dropped by over 85,000.  In 2013, the number of unemployed Ohioans dropped by less than 10,000.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)]

Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by over 51,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 51,609 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In March 2014 alone, over 11,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)]

Economist: “A declining labor force doesn’t have anything to do with a healing economy.”  Mekael Teshome, an economist for PNC Bank noted that recent drops in the unemployment rate “wasn’t entirely for the right reasons” noting that “[a] declining labor force doesn’t have anything to do with a healing economy.” [Source: Youngstown Vindicator (4/23/2014), “Economists cast doubt on unemployment figures.”]

When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice as high as the national average. Now, Ohio is ranked 36th in job creation.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.  Now, Ohio is ranked 36th in the nation with a job growth rate  (.83%) lower than it was in 2010. [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 6/6/2014)]

Ohio Republican Party spokesman: Drug treatment is nothing more than “more money for government”

GOP Leaves Town Without Fixing $20 Million Heroin Treatment Shortfall

Columbus – As the Ohio Republican Party continues to dismiss drug treatment as nothing more than “more money for government,” the Ohio House and Senate left town for summer vacation without addressing a $20 million shortfall in treatment in the midst of the State’s growing heroin epidemic.  Amendments offered by Democratic legislators were tabled by the Republicans in party line votes.

As Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald and Democratic Attorney General nominee David Pepper have traveled the State raising awareness of this treatment funding shortfall, Ohio Republican Party then issued  a response to a Democratic event drawing attention to the shortfall by accusing Ed FitzGerald of “want[ing] more money for government and not for the people who are suffering.”

“In the middle of a spiraling and out of control heroin epidemic in the State of Ohio, it is troubling that Ohio Republicans are more concerned with protecting Governor Kasich and Mike DeWine’s re-election efforts by throwing around partisan talking points.  On this issue that has threatened and taken the lives of so many, they’ve simply let Ohio families down,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.

While Ohio Republicans call treatment dollars wasteful spending, officials on the frontline of the crisis say these cuts will have a real impact on struggling families and communities:

Executive Director of Lorain County’s Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board:  “People understand why families need support and treatment now more than ever. With this reduction, we’re going to have to tell them again services aren’t available unless you’re Medicaid eligible.” [AP, 5/23/2014]

Executive Director of the Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board: “It’s going to reduce our available funds for community services that will be replaced by local levy dollars. Once again it’s an over-reliance on local funding to shore up what the state has started. We’re willing to do this because there are necessary services embedded with those dollars that are critical. Clients receiving those services should not be unduly impacted because of this funding change.” [Toledo Blade, 5/30/2014]

Executive Director of Butler County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board: “As more people come into residential services, Medicaid only pays for part of the bill, he said. It does not pay for room and board and supervision — ‘and those costs have increased,’ Bohley said. ‘(Medicaid expansion) is creating new demand for residential services and other services for childcare.'” [Journal News, 5/30/2014]

BACKGROUND

“The Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, which represents local boards, suggested a one-year delay in the funding change to see if the recent Medicaid expansion could help.” [Plain Dealer, 5/30/2014]

Kasich & DeWine response to heroin is largely a State-driven program of community town halls that ignores local drug enforcement agencies.“Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine are spearheading a new “Start Talking” program to reduce heroin use in the state, especially for school-aged children. But, local drug enforcement agencies said they have not been included in the new statewide program.” [WKBN,4/29/2014]

Lack of Treatment Is “A Statewide Embarrassment,” State Officials Have Only Given a “Pep Talk”: The Plain Dealer has called the lack of treatment capacity a “statewide embarrassment.” [Plain Dealer, 2/18/14]. The Coshocton Tribune said that with few resources from the state, it is “disparaging when an elected official travels around the state giving what amounts to nothing more than a pep talk.” [Coshocton Tribune2/1/2014]

Fitzgerald’s county heroin program called a “national model” by U.S. Attorney.  Steven M. Dettlebach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District Ohio praised the efforts of Cuyahoga County to tackle the heroin epidemic in Cuyahoga County as a protocol that “needs to be a national model.”  [Source: Cuyahoga County Government Press Conference (4/22/2014)]

Prosecutor & Suarez Defense Agree: Mandel Meeting Led to Suarez Donations and Mandel’s Help

While federal prosecutors and Suarez defense agree otherwise, Mandel spokeswoman denies donations had any relation to Mandel’s letters.

Columbus – Today, federal prosecutors and defense counsel for indicted Republican donor Benjamin Suarez gave their opening statements to the jury.  Federal prosecutors indicated that the evidence would show that Suarez’s entire straw donor scheme—in which he used employees as conduits to give to Josh Mandel’s failed U.S. Senate campaign in return for Mandel using his official office to protect Suarez’s business interests—arose after a private meeting between Josh Mandel and Benjamin Suarez.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/4/2014), “Trial begins for Mandel, Renacci campaign contributor.”]

The government in its opening argument argued that there was no daylight between the letters Mandel wrote and the campaign contributions Suarez and his straw donors gave to Mandel’s failed Senate campaign:

“Rendon also said that in a private meeting on May 13, 2011, Mandel asked Suarez to raise him $100,000, and it was at that time that a series of drafts of a letter Mandel would later send on treasurer’s office letterhead to the California state treasurer were traded between the company and Mandel’s Senate campaign.”   [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/4/2014), “Trial begins for Mandel, Renacci campaign contributor.”]

While calling the mention of Josh Mandel a “red herring,” the defense in their opening arguments said “the defense does not dispute 99 percent of the evidence that will be presented, and . . . does not dispute conversations happened between Suarez and the two politicians.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (6/4/2014), “Ben Suarez trial: Defense calls Josh Mandel, Jim Renacci red herrings.”]

However, two days ago, campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Wasserstein specifically denied that the letters that Josh Mandel wrote to Congressman Jim Renacci and the State Treasurer of California on Suarez’s behalf were due to the illegal contributions from Suarez’s “straw donors”:

“A Mandel campaign official, Rebecca Wasserstein, said Mandel did nothing improper. She said there was no connection between the letters Mandel sent and the contributions to his Senate campaign.”  (emphasis added.) [Source: Associated Press (6/2/2014), “People close to case: Ohio politicians subpoenaed.”]

Husted Misleads Ohio Voters on Voting Rights

Husted dodges responsibility for his policies in campaign year 

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted released a press release claiming that recent changes to Ohio voting laws makes Ohio “one of the easiest places to vote in the nation.”  In reality, each of the bills cited by Husted actually make voting harder in Ohio.  In response, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“After supporting cutting a week from early voting and unilaterally ending evening and Sunday early voting, Jon Husted now claims that these policies are making it ‘easier to vote’ in Ohio.  As a result of many of these changes, Ohio’s turnout in the primary was below 17%, the lowest on record with the Secretary of State’s office.  Husted’s claim that voting is easier is completely out of touch with reality.”

BACKGROUND:

Turnout in the May primary was the lowest it has been Ohio since at least 1986.  According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office turnout in this May’s primary was under 17%.  [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website (accessed 5/27/2014), “Unofficial 2014 May Primary Election Results.”]

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, the unofficial turnout in the 2014 May primary would be the lowest turnout in a gubernatorial primary since 1986, which is the last year the Secretary of State’s office reports primary turnout figures.  [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website (accessed 5/27/2014), “Voter Turnout in Primary Elections.”]

The legislature eliminated a week of early voting at Jon Husted’s urging.  The Republican legislature reduced early voting by a week by eliminating the “Golden Week”after receiving a public letter from Secretary of State Jon Husted urging them to do so.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/25/2013), “Husted asks legislators to trim early voting.”]

Not satisfied with the early voting cuts made by the legislature, Husted then unilaterally issued a directive that reduced early voting hours by eliminating most evening and weekend hours.  On February 25, 2014, Jon Husted issued Directive 2014-06, (included the ACLU’s lawsuit against Secretary of Husted), in which Husted unilaterally ended Sunday early voting the final two weeks before the election, most evening and weekend early voting hours in Ohio. In a press release from his office, Husted said he decided to take unilateral action because the legislature “has neither . . . introduced nor adopted” these reduced early voting hours he had advocated.  [Source: Ohio Secretary Of State’s Office Press Release (2/25/2014).]

(NOTE:  Husted’s release this morning did not mention this directive at all.)

Husted’s repeated claim that he sends all Ohio voters an absentee ballot is misleading, at best.  While Husted mentions that he is mailing absentee ballots in the general election as his office agreed to do in 2011 in a settlement with Ed FitzGerald he fails to mention that S.B. 205,will prevent the Secretary of State’s Office from doing so in the future unless the General Assembly specifically appropriates money to allow the Secretary to do so.  Also, Husted’s plan will not actually send an absentee ballot applicationto every registered voter.  Husted will not be sending these forms to anyone who registers to vote the first six days of October nor any voter who has been flagged as “inactive” because they have not yet responded to a postcard from their County Board of Elections seeking a confirmation of their residency and did not vote in the 2010 or 2012 general election.  [Source: Secretary of State Directive 2014-15.]

In 2010, Jon Husted campaigned as a Republican with “Tea Party values.”  During the 2010 Republican primary, Jon Husted’s campaign literature promoted him as a candidate with “Tea Party values.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (4/18/2010), “Husted’s appeal to Tea Party draws loud rebuff.”]

Josh Mandel Uses Office to Reward Donors

Mandel using State office to help his campaign . . . again

COLUMBUS – This afternoon, the Associated Press reported that a majority of Josh Mandel’s “Ohio Strong” awards have gone to employees at companies that donated to Mandel and other Republican campaigns.  Specifically, the Associated Press found:

  • “Executives of 10 out of 17 manufacturing companies whose workers have won a new award established by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel have donated to Republican candidates.”
  • “Campaign finance filings 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 who had not given before said his contribution was solicited by a political fundraiser.”
  • “Larry Lewark, CEO of Lewark Metal, and Leo Hawk, chairman emeritus of American Trim, were two of three executives of winning companies who gave to Mandel after their workers were honored. Lewark gave $250 and Hawk gave $1,000, both in mid-April.  Hawk and wife Arlene have given more than $600,000 to GOP candidates and causes over the years, including a combined $26,000 to Mandel’s campaigns.”
  • “The third executive to donate after Mandel’s awards visit, Rose Metal Industries president Bob Rose, said he received a call from a fundraiser soliciting donations for Mandel’s treasurer campaign about three weeks after the treasurer bestowed the award on four of his employees.”  [Source: Associated Press (5/29/2014), “Most manufacturing firms where workers earned treasurer’s new ‘Ohio Strong’ award give to GOP.”]

In response to Mandel’s election-year inspired gimmick, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Josh Mandel announced a new award from his office just in time for another political campaign designed for nothing more than getting publicity for his business donors and getting more campaign donations.  Mandel continues to find new ways to abuse his office to benefit his campaign.”

BACKGROUND

Ohio election law expert said Mandel’s town halls “blurs the line between politics and governing.”  In response to the Attorney General Opinion authorizing Mandel to hold taxpayer-funded town halls, Ohio State University law professor Dan Tokaji said “It does raise the concern that people are going to be holding campaign events masquerading as informational meetings. I think we all know that almost everything any public officeholder does who’s running for re-election is intended to advance his re-election effort.” [Source: Associated Press (2/20/2014), “Ohio treasurer receives OK to host town halls.”]

Mandel told local residents that working to save 1,000 manufacturing jobs at Ormet “that his office has nothing to do with that.”  As Monroe County faced the prospect of losing 1,000 aluminum manufacturing jobs from the closure of Ormet, Josh Mandel was asked at a community forum what the State could do to fight to prevent those jobs from being lost.  Mandel reportedly replied that “his office has nothing to do with that.”  [Source: WTRF ABC-7 (10/23/13)]

Mandel opposed federal involvement in rescuing the U.S. automobile industry.  In its endorsement of Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, the Lima News wrote that: “Mandel continues to maintain the bailout was a mistake. There are no “what if’s” here. Voters can see the results: auto-related jobs in Ohio have increased by 6.1 percent, or 11,100 jobs, since the start of the bailout initiative in 2009. The Buckeye state, which has the second-highest total automotive industry employment after Michigan, stood to lose around 200,000 auto-related jobs under a worst-case bankruptcy scenario for General Motors and Chrysler.  [Source: Lima News (10/20/2012), “Editorial: Sherrod Brown our pick for U.S. Senate”]

Mandel even dismissed reports of the jobs saved by the auto rescue.  The Lima News reported that: “At the forum, Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians Local 776 President Mike Knisley asked Mandel why he opposes the auto loans. Knisley spoke about 850,000 jobs in Ohio being tied to the auto industry… That 850,000 jobs number has been tossed back and forth a great deal. Mandel places no stock in it. ’You know that number’s ridiculous. That number comes from a made up organization in Michigan that says if there’s a lady working in a diner five miles from a – ‘ Mandel said to Knisley, not finishing his sentence.

The number came from the Center for Automotive Research, a highly-regarded in-dependent industry research group in Ann Arbor, Mich.” [Source:  Lima News (10/6/2012), “Sherrod Brown vs. Josh Mandel”]

Husted Policies Making it Harder to Vote

Lowest turnout in an Ohio gubernatorial primary at least since 1986

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was scheduled to certify the results of the May primary.  According to the unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, the turnout in primary was below 17%, well below any other gubernatorial primary since at least 1986, according to the Secretary of State’s website.   In response, Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester issued the following statement:

“For years, Jon Husted has been working with his fellow Republicans to roll back voting opportunities, and we now see historically low turnout as a result.  With his broken promises from his 2010 campaign and his refusal to take responsibility for his own policies, Ohioans are quickly realizing they can’t trust Tea Party value Republicans like Jon Husted.”

BACKGROUND:

Turnout in the May primary was the lowest it has been Ohio since at least 1986.  According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office turnout in this May’s primary was under 17%.  [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website (accessed 5/27/2014), “Unofficial 2014 May Primary Election Results.”]

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, the unofficial turnout in the 2014 May primary would be the lowest turnout in a gubernatorial primary since 1986, which is the last year the Secretary of State’s office reports primary turnout figures.  [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website (accessed 5/27/2014), “Voter Turnout in Primary Elections.”]

The legislature eliminated a week of early voting at Jon Husted’s urging, effective this fall.  The Republican legislature reduced early voting by a week by eliminating the “Golden Week” after receiving a public letter from Secretary of State Jon Husted urging them to do so.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch(10/25/2013), “Husted asks legislators to trim early voting.”]

Not satisfied with the early voting cuts made by the legislature, Husted then unilaterally issued a directive that reduced early voting hours by eliminating most evening and weekend hours.  On February 25, 2014, Jon Husted issued Directive 2014-06, (included the ACLU’s lawsuit against Secretary of Husted), in which Husted unilaterally ended Sunday early voting the final two weeks before the election, most evening and weekend early voting hours in Ohio. In a press release from his office, Husted said he decided to take unilateral action because the legislature “has neither . . . introduced nor adopted” these reduced early voting hours he had advocated.  [Source: Ohio Secretary Of State’s Office Press Release (2/25/2014).]

Husted’s repeated claim that he sends all Ohio voters an absentee ballot is misleading, at best.  While Husted mentions that he is mailing absentee ballots in the general election as his office agreed to do in 2011 in a settlement with Ed FitzGerald he fails to mention that S.B. 205 will prevent the Secretary of State’s Office from doing so in the future unless the General Assembly specifically appropriates money to allow the Secretary to do so.  [Source: Legislative Service Commission, Final Analysis of SB 205.]

When Husted was asked if Ohio should move away from having the Secretary of State be chosen in a partisan election, Husted demurred and avoided his 2010 campaign pledge to do just that.  In announcing his 2010 candidacy for Secretary of State, Jon Husted said, “I’m going to be the first person to run for office with a plan to eliminate the need for it,” claiming that he would move “oversight of the election system to include a bipartisan decision-making process.”  [Source: Dayton Daily News (4/2/2009), “Husted begins bid for office.”]

In 2010, Jon Husted campaigned as a Republican with “Tea Party values.”  During the 2010 Republican primary, Jon Husted’s campaign literature promoted him as a candidate with “Tea Party values.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (4/18/2010), “Husted’s appeal to Tea Party draws loud rebuff.”]

Ohio’s Heroin Epidemic Needs Action, Not Campaign Pep Talks

After massive Republican funding cuts, heroin epidemic spiraled out of control 

COLUMBUS – Despite a record of massive budget cuts and failure to acknowledge the crisis until well after it began, today Governor John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine will hold a town hall in Columbus regarding the heroin epidemic in Ohio.  In response to today’s press event, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Talk from politicians in an election year is cheap, especially given the record of disastrous budget cuts and neglect by Governor Kasich and Attorney General DeWine that allowed this epidemic to spiral out of control.  Leadership requires more than empty promises.  Ohio needs real action, not pep talks, to deal with this crisis.”

BACKGROUND

Heroin Overdose Deaths Are Spiraling Out of Control Across the State:

“Overdose deaths related to heroin increased 59.6 percent between 2011 and 2012 [Mansfield News Journal, 4/18/2014].  It is estimated that over 900 Ohioans died of heroin overdoses in 2013.

Heroin Crisis Was Foreseeable, Health Department Officials Say: “‘As strict legislation closed pill mills and prescription drugs became less available, Ohio was left with an opioid-addicted population in search of a drug,’ [Christy Beeghly, violence and injury prevention program administrator at the Ohio Department of Health] said. ‘We’ve sort of primed the pump of bringing heroin in,’ she said.” [Mansfield News Journal, 4/18/2014]

Lack of Treatment Is “A Statewide Embarrassment,” State Officials Have Only Given a “Pep Talk”: The Plain Dealer has called the lack of treatment capacity a “statewide embarrassment.” [Plain Dealer, 2/18/14]. The Coshocton Tribune said that with few resources from the state, it is “disparaging when an elected official travels around the state giving what amounts to nothing more than a pep talk.” [Coshocton Tribune2/1/2014]

Fitzgerald’s county heroin program called a “national model” by U.S. Attorney.  Steven M. Dettlebach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District Ohio praised the efforts of Cuyahoga County to tackle the heroin epidemic in Cuyahoga County as a protocol that “needs to be a national model.”  [Source: Cuyahoga County Government Press Conference (4/22/2014)]

Gov. Kasich:

  • Cut Funding for Social Workers, Mental Health Programs, and Other Human Services Over 50 percent Across the State on Average in first state budget. “Deep cuts have been made to all local governments and to special districts. Health and human service levies were hit especially hard, losing 54 percent of state aid, on average.” [Policy Matters Ohio, 9/13/2012]
  • Cuts to Local Government Fund Took Cops Off the Street. “Kasich insists that the state’s rainy day fund should be replenished with new budget surpluses, despite the fact that schools and communities across Ohio are still suffering from state budget cuts, which resulted in “cutbacks in essential local services, hikes in local property taxes, and layoffs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.”  [Toledo Blade, 4/29/2012]
  • Kasich Eliminated Separate Departments Of Mental-Health And Substance-Abuse, and Combined Into One Agency. “Two state departments serving Ohioans with mental-health and substance-abuse problems will be merged into a single, more-efficient agency with ‘less bureaucratic clutter,’ the Kasich administration announced yesterday. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services will be combined effective July 1, 2013, pending legislative approval.” [The Columbus Dispatch, 5/5/12]

Attorney General DeWine:

  • Failed for Three Years to Acknowledge Growing Crisis.  According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, DeWine did not begin tabulating data on heroin deaths until Oct. 2013, years after the crisis began and states like Kentucky began responding. [Attorney General Statement, 11/18/13]
  • Refused to tell Ohio What He Has Actually Accomplished. DeWine formed a $1 million dollar “heroin unit,” but “would not say what this new unit…has accomplished since its inception in November.” [Coschocton Tribune 2/1/14]
  • Failed to Stand Up for First Responders. DeWine did not speak out against Gov. Kasich’s massive local budget cuts for police and other first responders. This is despite his position as Ohio’s chief legal officer.

As our next governor, Ed FitzGerald will:

  • Restore funding to local governments so law enforcement and social services have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.
  • Expand on his leadership in the County level, where his initiative for tracking down drug dealers was hailed as a model for the nation by the US Attorney and his expansion of the naloxone program led to the reversal of 31 possible overdoses.

As our next Attorney General, David Pepper will:

  • Expand access to life-saving anti-overdose medications to first responders statewide.
  • Assist local prosecutors in tracing overdose deaths back to dealers so they can be held fully responsible for the death.
  • Expand evidenced-based prevention and treatment efforts to drive down demand for heroin.

Josh Mandel Fundraising Scheme Results in Conviction

Mandel defended illegal donations months after illegal straw donor plan uncovered

COLUMBUS – Today, Suarez Corporation Industries CFO Michael Giorgio reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors admitting that he and Canton businessman Benjamin Suarez illegally conspired to donate over $100,000 to Josh Mandel’s failed Senate campaign by using employees as straw donors to circumvent federal campaign finance laws.

In response to today’s plea deal, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Josh Mandel personally pushed Ben Suarez to raise $100,000 for his failed Senate campaign.  Then, Mandel took over $100,000 in questionable donations and then refused to answer questions about the legality of those donations. There is clear evidence that Treasurer Mandel has used his office to benefit Suarez, and it’s time for Josh to answer the questions of what he knew and when.”

BACKGROUND

Mandel personally solicited Ben Suarez to raise $100,000 for Mandel’s failed Senate campaign in early 2011.  According to the federal indictment charging Suarez and Giorgio, Josh Mandel personally asked Suarez “to raise $100,000 for the Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign” in a handwritten note.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (9/28/2013), “Josh Mandel asked Benjamin Suarez to raise campaign cash.”]

When Mandel’s campaign started receiving the illegal donations from Suarez, Mandel had the State Treasurer’s office send a threatening letter to the California Treasurer threatening that Ohio would sue California over its litigation against Suarez’s company. Around the same time Mandel was looking to get $100,000 in campaign contributions from Ben Suarez, Mandel sent a letter to the California State Treasurer threatening to have the State of Ohio sue California if it continue to push litigation against Ben Suarez’s company.  A spokesman for the California Treasurer said Mandel’s letter “read like a letter from an ill-informed constitutent.”  [Source: Plain Dealer (10/9/2013), “California treasurer’s office surprised by Josh Mandel’s letter on behalf of Benjamin Suarez.”]

Questions about the $100,000 in Suarez employee donations were raised as early as August 2011 when they were made by employees with no campaign donation history and seemingly  limited financial resources.  The Toledo Blade first raised questions about the donation from Suarez employees noting that many had never donated before and lived in modest houses with modest incomes.  [Source: Toledo Blade (8/19/2011), “Canton firm’s workers making unusual donations.”]

Initially, Josh Mandel defended the questionable donations from Suarez as a strength of his campaign.  In an interview with WKYC, Josh Mandel was asked about the questionable donations from the Suarez employees in which he dismissed any questions about the donations and defended them as a strength of his campaign.  [Source: WKYC Interview (9/21/2011)]

Nine months after being questioned about the Suarez donations, Mandel finally returned the illegal donations.  As reports of the FBI investigation into the illegal straw donors became public, Josh Mandel finally returned the illegal donations nine months after questions were first publicly raised about them.  [Source: Toledo Blade (5/24/2012), “Josh Mandel returns money to Suarez employees.”]

Suarez Corporation Industries CFO admits that Suarez concocted the plan to use employees and their spouses as “straw donors” to violate federal campaign finance laws.  In a 26-page plea agreement, Giorgio admitted that Suarez created a plan to use employees and their spouses as donors to Mandel’s campaign with the company reimbursing them. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (5/19/2014), “Ben Suarez orchestrated illegal campaign scheme, per company CFO Michael Giorgio’s plea agreement.”]

Under Kasich, Ohio Back Down to 36th in Nation for Job Growth

14,000 Ohioans Gave Up Looking For Work Last Month

COLUMBUS- Today, Arizona State University’s non-partisan W.P. Carey School of Business released its monthly state job growth rankings, showing Ohio fell to nearly the bottom fourth of the entire nation in job creation.

In response, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Over the last two months, 25,000 frustrated unemployed Ohioans have given up hope finding a job in Ohio. Ohio’s economy was recovering nearly a full year before Kasich took office, but the economy has sputtered under his watch.  With nearly three-quarters of the country growing jobs faster than Ohio, it’s clear that John Kasich’s policies aren’t working for middle class families.”

BACKGROUND

For the 18th straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to today’s jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “This is the 18th consecutive month that Ohio’s job growth rate was below the national average.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (5/16/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate down to 5.7% because of job gains, but also shrinking labor force.”]

Over the past two months, 25,000 unemployed Ohioans have given up looking for work. The April Jobs and Family Services Report showed 14,000 unemployed Ohioans gave up looking for work. The March JFS Report showed 11,000 Ohioans had given up looking for work. [Source: Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, April Jobs Report Press Release (5/16/2014)].

Economist says declining employment rate falling for the wrong reasons.  Mekael Teshome, economist at PNC Bank said in reviewing March’s jobs report: “That drop [in the unemployment rate] wasn’t entirely for the right reasons.  A declining labor force doesn’t have anything to do with a healing economy.”  [Source: Youngstown Vindicator (4/23/2014), “Economists cast doubt on unemployment figures.”]

Paid for and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party, not authorized by any federal candidate or campaign committee. Chris Redfern, Chairman, 340 East Fulton St, Columbus, Ohio 43215.