Earlier this week, Stark County-based businessman and resident (Glenmoor Country Club complex, Jackson Township) Benjamin Suarez was found not guilty of federal charges that he had violated federal government campaign finance contribution limits to the federal office campaigns of Jim Renacci (whose 16th congressional district includes part of Stark County) and Josh Mandel for United States Senate (which, of course, includes "all" of Stark County).
Both campaigns returned the contributions after questions were raised by a Toledo Blade August, 2011 article about the contributions.
Federal authorities disclosed in the trial that it was the Blade investigative reporting which piqued the feds interest investigating further the legality of the contributions alleged to have been made through Suarez Corp. Industries (SCI) employees on the promise of reimbursement.
Here is the Cleveland Plain Dealer's summary of the jury's findings:
The month-long federal trial of Suarez, 72, a North Canton businessman and longtime GOP donor, concluded about 2 p.m. [Monday, June 30] in U.S. District Court when a 12-member jury cleared Suarez of three counts of federal campaign-finance violations, three counts of causing campaigns to make false statements on their finance reports and one obstruction charge.Credit the Toledo Blade for "after the fact" reporting in attracting the interest of federal prosecutors, but for voters in 2014 "electronic" America, The Blade's report and questions raised by the federal prosecution is a poor way for voters to discover the campaign funds raising activities in Stark County and Ohio-based campaigns not to mention the ultimate nationwide campaign for the U.S. presidency.
But Suarez was found guilty of one felony count of obstruction for tampering with a witness.
There is an initiative to equip voters with a "real time" tool for all of us to determine "as they are made" who (including individuals, PACs, IRS 527 organizations) is contributing to whom so that voters can be asking candidates and donors why the contributions are being made.
We all remember the saying that was repeated ad nauseam during the Nixon administration Watergate investigation by the Washington Post: "Follow the Money!"
And that is what voters need to do but which they do not have the tools to do in 21st Century "electronic" America.
The SCPR for one thinks that Benjamin Suarez and his like should be able to contribute whatever he wants to candidates of his choice.
But we voters should have the ability to know about his or any other American's contribution to a campaign at the federal, state and local level "as they happen!"
As a consequence, candidates "as they appear before the voting public" would be subject to "on the stomp" questions about this or that contribution.
The Report thinks it is likely that "the light of day" would be an effective deterrent for candidates/campaigns being unduly supported by "big" money.
In that vein, The Stark County Political Report encourages Stark Countians to join with the Sunlight Foundation in its "currently under way" project of pushing for the development of a federal "real time" campaign finance reporting voter access tool to be created by the federal government in the form of the Foundation's proposed "Real Time Transparency Act."
The SCPR encourages each and every reader to go to the Sunlight Foundation website and join the petition to have Congress pass the "Real Time Transparency Act."
The Report also supports the creation of a version of the Sunlight initiative for State of Ohio and Ohio's political subdivision candidates and campaigns.