CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal prosecutor in Cleveland has told jurors that a telemarketing millionaire funneled campaign contributions to two prominent Republican politicians knowing it was illegal.
Ben Suarez is accused of using employees and relatives to donate $100,000 each to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s (reh-NAY’-seez) 2012 congressional campaign and state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s (man-DEHLZ’) failed U.S. Senate bid.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko said in closing arguments Thursday that the 72-year-old North Canton businessman circumvented campaign finance laws, hoping to influence politicians to help him with a legal matter.
Suarez is a longtime donor to Republican politicians and conservative causes. His attorneys have said he reimbursed the contributors but didn’t know it was illegal and shouldn’t be found guilty.
Suarez faces eight counts in federal court. Two more counts were dropped.