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Published: Wednesday, 11/2/2011

Mandel refuses to give up Iott's donation

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The campaign of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday rejected a call for him to donate to charity a $1,000 contribution he received from a Lucas County man who portrayed a Nazi soldier in military re-enactments.

Mr. Mandel's spokesman, Joe Aquilino, said the demand to return or give away the $1,000 contribution from Rich Iott of Monclova Township, the 2010 Republican candidate for the 9th Congressional District, was "a manufactured nonissue" to distract from Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's record.

Mr. Mandel, who is Jewish, is seeking the GOP nomination to run for Senator Brown's seat in 2012.

The liberal issue advocacy group ProgressOhio said Mr. Mandel should donate the contribution to a charity, such as the Wiesenthal Center or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"It's a situation where the example set seems to ignore or at least start to erase the memory of what that uniform actually meant, the ugliness, the hatred that it represented," said Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio.

Mr. Iott did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The disclosure of Mr. Iott's re-enactment activities came up last October during the final month of his bid for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

Then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R., Va.), who is Jewish, repudiated his support of Mr. Iott and removed him from the National Republican Congressional Committee's list of GOP "Young Guns," a roster of up-and-coming Republican candidates. Ohio U.S. Rep. John Boehner, who is now the Speaker of the House, continued to support Mr. Iott.

Mr. Iott said he played the role of a Nazi, as well as American soldiers from other wars, out of an interest in history and as a bonding experience with his son. He said he had quit about three years earlier when his son lost interest.

He also issued a statement at the time saying he never "meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war, especially the Jewish community."

Also Tuesday, the National Jewish Democratic Council called on Mr. Boehner to return a $2,400 campaign contribution he received from Mr. Iott.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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