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December 16, 2011

NJDC to Mandel: Explain Your Refusal to Return Nazi Reenactor’s $1,000

Listed in: Other Domestic Policy, NJDC News, Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC- The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today called for Ohio Republican State Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel to explain to the Jewish audience he will be addressing why he continues to hold on to the $1,000 contribution he received from Nazi reenactor and former Republican House candidate Rich Iott. Mandel will be meeting with the Republican Jewish Coalition Sunday in Beachwood, OH. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

“Josh Mandel has had at least two months to return or donate the $1,000 he received from former Nazi reenactor and Republican House candidate Rich Iott, but so far has failed to do so. This begs the question, what is he afraid of? Is he afraid of upsetting House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who campaigned for Iott? Is he afraid of distancing himself from Republicans in Ohio? Or does he just not have the proper judgment of someone seeking high office to return money from someone who wore the uniform of Nazi Germany as a hobby? Sunday’s appearance in front of Jewish Republicans is the perfect place for Mandel to explain why he is hanging on to a $1,000 donation that represents a drop in the bucket of his total fundraising. If he fails to explain himself Sunday, he will demonstrate yet again that there is a major gap separating him from the mainstream of Ohio’s Jewish community.”

As a member of The Forward’s “10 to Watch in 2010” roundup of rising Jewish politicians [The Forward, February 17,  2010], Mandel is uniquely empowered to take a stand against Iott’s offensive past behavior. But he has failed. When pressed in November to rid himself of the money, Mandel’s spokesman dismissed the matter as “a manufactured non-issue” and implied that the campaign would be keeping the money [Toledo Blade, November 2,  2011]. In the 3rd Quarter of 2011, Mandel raised $1.5 million [National Journal, October 17,  2011]. Giving back Iott’s contribution will not break his campaign’s coffers.  

During the 2010 election, Iott’s involvement with Nazi reenactments surfaced and sparked condemnations from a broad spectrum of individuals and groups [The Atlantic, October 8,  2010]. However, key Republicans—including then-aspiring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)—assisted his campaign [TPM, October 27, 2010]. On November 1, 2011, Washington Jewish Week reported Iott was also a max-out donor to Boehner’s political action committee. [Washington Jewish Week, November 1, 2011]  

Mandel’s failure to promptly return the money and repudiate a disgraced Nazi reenactor demonstrates that he is simply not ready for federal office. This incident is just the latest reminder to Jewish Ohioans of the ever-increasing ideological distance that separates Mandel, Boehner, and other Ohio Republicans from their community. 

NJDC’s previous call for Mandel to return Iott’s contribution can be viewed here