The FBI is investigating campaign payments to two Ohio Republicans made by employees of the Suarez Corporation Industries, the New Republic reports.
The direct marketing company is owned by Benjamin Suarez, a major Republican donor. The Toledo Blade reported back in August that 17 employees of the company had given large sums of money to Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH). That raised suspicions that Suarez might have been illegally reimbursing the employees for their donations to the campaigns.
Alec MacGillis reports for the New Republic that the FBI is looking into it:
I visited the home of Michael Blubaugh, a copywriter at Suarez who had given $5,000 each to Renacci and Mandel last year—and whose wife, Donna, had done the same. They live in a modest subdivision, in a home valued by Zillow at about $142,000. When Donna came to the door, she said she had already been asked about the donations by the FBI. The inquiry had caught her by surprise, she said, “because I didn’t know about the rules, so I was like, ‘What?’” But she said the $20,000 had been given of her and her husband’s free wills. “Our house may not look it, because we’re saving for retirement, but my husband makes good money as a copywriter,” she said. But why give so much to the candidates? “My husband made the decision, not me,” she said.
Suarez headquarters couldn’t address the issue, nor could the FBI. A Mandel spokesman did not return requests for comment, but Renacci’s chief of staff James Slepian told MacGillis that investigators asked Renacci’s treasurer for records. “To our knowledge, no donations made from any donors were made impurely,” Slepian told the magazine.