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GOP Donor Ben Suraez
So this happened this week:

Gov. John Kasich asked a federal judge Monday to block a defense subpoena ordering him to testify at the trial of North Canton direct-marketing entrepreneur Ben Suarez.

For the past three weeks, Suarez has been on trial in U.S. District Court in Cleveland on charges he violated federal campaign financing laws, then tried to cover it up, in 2011 and 2012.

Suarez wants Kasich as a defense witness due to his powers of "persuasion" – not for any direct knowledge the governor may have about the case, according to a seven-page motion filed Monday.

"A criminal defendant is not entitled to subpoena the governor to testify about abstract principles because the defendant believes such testimony would be persuasive," Assistant Attorney General Bridget Coontz said in the motion.

Coontz added that Suarez's defense lawyers told her they wanted Kasich to explain to the jury that political constituents frequently reach out to public officials, and to offer his opinion that there is nothing improper about that.

The subpoena makes no demands for Kasich to produce documents or to provide an explanation for the testimony he might offer, the motion said. - The Plain Dealer, 6/23/14

Kasich wasn't the only Republican who didn't want to be seen in court with Suarez:

Suarez's attorneys have also subpoenaed Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, but the treasurer is not fighting the subpoena. An attorney for Mandel told The Enquirer he doubted the treasurer would be called to testify.

In 2011, Suarez reached out to Republican Ohio and U.S. officials -- including Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Mandel -- for help to fight off a brewing California lawsuit over misleading advertising. Some of the officials declined to help, and others sent letters or made calls on Suarez's behalf.

Suarez's attorneys want the Republicans to testify it's OK for constituents to reach out to public officials and such correspondence takes place frequently, according to motions the officials have filed to ask a federal judge to quash their subpoenas.

Prosecutors allege Suarez instead was hatching an illegal campaign finance scheme. Mandel and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, sent letters for Suarez -- common as a service to constituents, their spokeswomen say. The politicians each received $100,000 from Suarez's employees. Prosecutors allege Suarez then reimbursed his employees' campaign donations, which would be a violation of federal law.

Mandel and Renacci eventually returned the donations, and neither has been charged. Renacci has asked the judge to spare him from testifying.

Of the four state officials to receive subpoenas, only Attorney General Mike DeWine's name is not listed in a letter from Suarez outlining ways officials could help him. DeWine's office doesn't have any record of correspondence from Suarez, a spokeswoman said, and Suarez's wife gave $10,000 to DeWine's opponent, then-Attorney General Richard Cordray, in 2010.

Suarez also sought assistance from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, and Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer. Neither office has been served with a subpoena, representatives said.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Ohio Attorney General's Office filed motions to dismiss the subpoenas against Kasich, DeWine and Husted. Suarez's attorneys lack a legal right to subpoena the officials because they lack firsthand knowledge of the case and because the attorneys can get testimony about constituent correspondence from other witnesses, the motions say. -, 6/24/14

Here's a little more info:

Suarez, 72, is accused of illegally funneling about $100,000 apiece to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and to state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s U.S. Senate bid during the 2012 election cycle. The donations coincided with actions Renacci and Mandel took on Suarez’s behalf.

The federal government says the scheme began to unfold after a March 2011 meeting between Suarez and Mandel, which Suarez allegedly called to influence Mandel and other politicians to intervene on behalf of Suarez’s company in possible litigation in California.

In the court filing, Coontz said Kasich was subpoenaed to “testify that constituents frequently reach out to public offices (such as the governor’s office) and to offer his lay opinion that there is nothing improper about a constituent doing so.”

But Coontz said that “subpoenaing the Governor for such purposes is entirely improper when other witnesses could provide the testimony he seeks.” She said the defense “stated that they wanted Gov. Kasich’s testimony because it would be ‘persuasive.’  ”

“As defense counsel admitted, the governor — a non-party — is not being called because Mr. Suarez alleges that he has any first-hand knowledge of this case,” Coontz said. “Nor is the governor subpoenaed because he is the only person who can possibly offer the (likely inadmissible) lay opinion testimony that the Defendant seeks.”

A message for Suarez’s attorneys was not immediately returned.

Kasich has not received any money from Suarez since becoming governor in January 2011. But Suarez contributed more than $22,000 to Kasich’s 2010 campaign, and Mike Grodhaus, general counsel in the governor’s office, did write a letter to California Attorney General Kamala Harris in April 2011 on Suarez’s behalf.

“This is a federal issue, and the governor is not involved,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said of the subpoena. - The Columbus Dispatch, 6/24/14

Yeah, it's no wonder Kasich doesn't want to be near Suarez because he can't afford to be seen with people like him since he's up for re-election.  And he knows he's a top target for Democrats:

National Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz spoke to about 30 Ohio women active in the state party here on Friday about the importance of voting, electing women to office and other issues important to women.

Wasserman-Schultz, also a congresswoman from Florida, was joined by the party's nominees for statewide office, a central Ohio congresswoman and state lawmakers to discuss women's issues ranging from voting rights to equal pay for women doing the same work as men.

Also on the panel:

    Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, gubernatorial candidate
    Sharen Neuhardt, FitzGerald's lieutenant governor candidate
    State Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland, secretary of state candidate
    State Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, treasurer candidate
    U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus
    State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard of Columbus
    State Sen. Charleta Tavares of Columbus

Wasserman-Schultz did a fair bit of campaigning for the statewide hopefuls, targeting Republican statewide officeholders.

"This is not what the voters were signing up for," Wasserman-Schultz said. "The extremism of [Gov.] John Kasich and of [Secretary of State] John Husted... and [Treasurer Josh] Mandel, who is just drowning in ethical conflict and scandal -- this state needs a shower and our candidates are that shower." - Northeast Ohio Media Group, 6/27/14

By the way, Ed FitzGerald has been out on the campaign trail promoting his education funding plan:

Arguing that Ohio is losing ground when it comes to an affordable college education, the Democratic candidate for governor on Wednesday called for the creation of college savings accounts for every kindergartner in the state.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said he would also boost support for financial aid and make it easier for graduates to refinance college debt. He said these investments should be made before the state pursues more tax cuts.

“At a time when [a college degree is] more and more necessary, we’re actually moving backwards,” he said, standing in the hot sun outside Columbus State Community College. “Right now the average tuition and fees at a four-year public college in Ohio are 6.2 percent higher than the national average, and for community colleges, they’re 21 percent higher.”

His state plan for college savings accounts would parallel a program enacted under his administration in Cuyahoga County where the county opened accounts for all 5-year-olds with a government-funded opening balance of $100. The child and family members can then make voluntary tax-advantaged deposits to the account, withdrawing money only for an approved higher-education expense.

“What it does on a psychological level for the child is it says you have a future beyond high school,” Mr. FitzGerald said. - Toledo Blade, 6/19/14

Ohio Democrats have also been hitting Kasich on this issue as well:

Ohio Democrats will gather in Cincinnati and Columbus Friday to criticize Gov. John Kasich for not spending more to make college affordable.

For the first time in 40 years, they say, less than 10 percent of the state budget will be spent on higher education and that families often cannot afford tuition increases.

"There are policy decisions at the state level that can have a major impact," said Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld, who will speak at the Cincinnati event.

Kasich has agreed that college costs too much and has pushed public universities to lower their own costs and link their programs to available jobs. -, 6/26/14

We have a real shot to get rid of Kasich and FitzGerald is going to need our help big time.  Click here to donate and get involved with FitzGerald's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:35 PM PDT.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks, KasichWatch, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the defendant is asking for help (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, ichibon, thomask, weezilgirl, kfunk937, JanL

    he helped them, they took his money and they won't be character witnesses for him or say that he didn't ask for anything when he donated to their other campaigns.  

    this will be Christie, once someone is facing hard time, those crooked friends who once profited from crooked them run like they have hopping-skin lice.  

    Cowards, he was good enough for them when they needed his money.

    plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

    by anna shane on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:56:25 PM PDT

  •  what are the odds? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane

    how promising is it that kasich will loose in november? I have read he might keep his governorship? I need to know before I donate to Fitzgerald's campaign.

  •  It's Ohio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, anna shane

    Prior to the 2004 pres elections, there was a similar case. If memory serves the Lucas county GOP head did something similar. Noe was his name. The investigation indicted a college buddy of mine and the piece of work that he married, who was the up n coming GOP elected person in the Toledo area.

    Republicans cheating in ohio. Nothing new here.

    Born in Oklahoma Raised in Ohio Escaped to Meechigan!!!

    by MI Sooner on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 07:52:22 PM PDT

  •  The Cincinnati Enquirer was not too kind to Mandel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kfunk937, JanL, anna shane

    "Opinion: Mandel is the worst kind of politician"

    "For Ohio voters who haven't followed the blow-by-blow of the Suarez trial and investigation, here's my take-away: Mandel is the worst kind of politician – the kind who makes us all more cynical about democracy and public service. Let's remember that in November."

    He is one of the few Republicans that the paper did not endorse.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:07:25 PM PDT

  •  Hmmm.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane

    ....the Governor ISN'T involved with this case, and doesn't want to get splattered in the shit-stirring that's going on in court....big surprise.

    And if he isn't involved, no judge (who isn't a moron or a partisan) is gonna order him to.

    Somehow this isn't news....

    "Some guy on trial wants uninvolved Governor on stand; Judge demurs"

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 04:56:59 AM PDT

    •  "Somehow this isn't news...." (0+ / 0-)

      Of course that is not the news. The attorneys for Suarez never thought for a minute that they could get Kasich to opine on communications between the governor's office and constituents.

      Suarez made several points with these subpoenas. First, he demonstrated that he had political connections to Kasich, Mandel (Ohio Treasurer) and Jim Renacci (U.S. Representative). Second, he may have been communicating that he may have more to say about political contributions and these politicians ... Kasich and Mandel are up for re-election this year.

      Mandel is more vulnerable than Kasich since Mandel asked for a contribution of $100,000 before he would intercede in an investigation and likely prosecution of Suarez in California. Once the contribution was made, Mandel sent a letter on the Treasurer's letterhead, written by Suarez, to the treasurer of California. Renacci also sent a letter but I don't have that information at hand.

      Suarez's company, SCI, sells vitamins, supplements, weight loss pills, and sleep aids. The AG's in ten states, including California, were preparing to sue SCI for deceptive advertising and unfair competition. SCI settled for $1.8MM.

      Kasish was asked to send a letter to CA Gov. Jerry Brown but he declined. However, an attorney on Kasich's staff did sent a letter on behalf of Suarez to the CA AG.

      The Federal case in Cleveland went to the jury last Friday. The local pundits are predicting a conviction or a hung jury.

      Alcohol preserves everything ... except secrets.

      by august88 on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 07:19:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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