Two business executives have been indicted on charges of funnelling nearly 200-thousand dollars in corporate money to the campaigns of a U.S. Senate candidate and a sitting member of Congress.
M.L. Schultze of member station WKSU in Kent reports.
The founder of Suarez Corporation Industries, Ben Suarez, is facing charges of witness tampering, conspiring to violate campaign finance laws, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The company’s financial officer, Michael Giorgio, also has been indicted.
According to the federal charges, Suarez agreed to raise $100,000 each for the 2012 Senate campaign of Josh Mandel and congressional campaign of Jim Renacci. He’s then accused of recruiting employees and others associated with his company to make the contributions in their names and had Giorgio reimburse them through payments disguised as salaries and then as profit-sharing.
Bradley Smith is a law professor at West Virginia University who’s written extensively about campaign finance law. If the charges are true, he says Suarez violated the most basic tenant of the law.
In campaign finance 101, one of the first things you would tell a person if you were just briefing a corporate executive on the law is you cannot make corporate contributions directly to a candidate and you cannot make campaign contributions in the name of another person.”
A statement from Suarez industries says, “We are confident that our officers will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will stand behind them.”
And a statement from Renacci spokesman James Slepian says no one has accused the congressman of engaging in improper conduct and the money was returned “in an abudance of caution.”
Mandel also returned the money, and a statement from his campaign also uses the phrase “an abundance of caution.” It says he’s cooperated fully with the investigation, which is ongoing.