The campaign of congresswoman Betty Sutton is calling on congressman Jim Renacci to return campaign contributions from employees of Suarez Corporation Industries.
The campaign of U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, on Tuesday called on her Republican rival U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, to return about $100,000 in campaign contributions from employees of Suarez Corp. Industries.
Sutton is challenging Renacci to be congressman for the new 16th Congressional District, which includes Jackson Township and North Canton.
The FBI confirmed Monday that it’s investigating political contributions by Suarez contributors. The Jackson Township company said federal investigators were looking at contributions made by the employees to Renacci and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel.
The investigation was apparently prompted by The (Toledo) Blade article in August that said that 16 Suarez employees and six of their spouses had given the maximum $5,000 to Renacci and Mandel allowed by federal election law. The article, citing some of the employees’ home values, raised questions as to whether they had the means to afford the contributions on their own. It’s illegal for anyone to get someone else to give political contributions on their behalf to get around the contribution limits.
The company’s president, Benjamin Suarez, said Monday that the employees earned an average of nearly $500,000 a year in 2010. He said he and his company did not reimburse employees for contributions.
Democrats were quick to send press releases and call reporters Monday to discuss the investigation.
“Given the seriousness of the investigation into a pattern of highly irregular contributions to Congressman Renacci, he should return the questionable contributions immediately,” Sutton’s campaign said. “This FBI investigation raises significant questions about how Congressman Renacci obtained tens of thousands of dollars of highly unusual donations.”
Renacci’s chief of staff James Slepian said in an email that Sutton did not immediately return campaign contributions from U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., when he was being investigated for ethics violations. Slepian said she didn’t return the donations until the House Ethics Committee made findings against Rangel.
“Should we learn that any of the donations were made improperly they will be returned,” the email said. “Betty Sutton had no problem waiting for the facts to be determined when it involved one of her donors, so for her to denounce anyone else for doing the same reeks of hypocrisy and desperation from a career politician terrified of her own voting record.”