An investigative piece by the good-government journalism group Pro Publica is reporting a link between a former aide to Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and one of the third-party groups that is spending heavily on Ohio's U.S. Senate race.
Third-party groups are prohibited from coordinating with a candidate.
Mandel is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. Brown has raised and spent more money, so far, than Mandel, about $15 million to $10 million. But third party groups are spending heavily in Mandel's favor, about $15 million to $3 million.
The focus of the piece, written by Justin Elliott, is the Government Integrity Fund. The group, which provides almost no information publicly about its funders, has spent more than $1 million to bash Brown and praise Mandel.
According to Pro Publica, "the Government Integrity Fund is run by a state lobbyist who in turn employs a former top Mandel staffer. The lobbyist, Tom Norris, is listed as the Government Integrity Fund’s chairman and treasurer. Norris owns an Ohio lobbying firm, Cap Square Solutions, and last year hired a top Mandel aide, Joel Riter, to work at the firm."
Riter declined to say to Pro Publica whether he is involved with the group.