COLUMBUS — The group affiliated with a convicted Republican businessman in Ohio said an elaborate retaliatory campaign it had planned against two prominent Democrats won't be carried out before Tuesday's election.
The Justice Association LLC told The Associated Press in an email Thursday that the political timing was not right for advancing a hoped-for grand jury investigation and class-action suit involving U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and ex-U.S. Attorney and attorney general candidate Steve Dettelbach.
Suarez Corp. CEO Benjamin Suarez, whose company and employees are backing the effort, has alleged he was wrongly prosecuted and convicted in a 2014 campaign finance probe because he was a Republican and that Brown and Dettelbach were the “chief culprits.”
Suarez spent more than a year in prison for witness tampering after the probe by Dettelbach's office and the FBI. He was acquitted of seven additional charges.
The association said in the email that it has requested that local authorities in Stark County pursue charges against two FBI agents involved in the Suarez probe, on allegations they improperly threatened a Suarez associate in the aftermath of the investigation.
The group said its broader effort against Brown, Dettelbach and the Obama-era Justice Department was on hold.
The decision was based on advice from its Washington consultants, the email said, which told the group Attorney General Jeff Sessions “appears to be reluctant to prosecute anyone in the Justice Department for crimes.”
The advisers also noted that Republican President Donald Trump appears “very displeased” with Sessions “and will probably replace him after next week's vote.”
“Therefore, The Justice Association will wait to present the evidence and the grand jury request to the Attorney General's office until after the midterm elections,” the email said.
The group also wasn't able to make headway on its claims with Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office, which told them it “cannot be the primary initiator” of criminal charges, the memo said. That's the reason it's sought to start the process at the county level.
Both Brown and Dettelbach are on Tuesday ballots. Dettelbach faces Republican Ohio Auditor Dave Yost for attorney general, while Brown's re-election bid is being challenged by Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci.
- Election Day to test Democratic resistance in Trump era
- Ohio Democrats trying to turn GOP statewide tide (UPDATED)
- Turnout key as Mike DeWine, Richard Cordray wrap tight Ohio governor race
- Sherrod Brown defeats Jim Renacci for third term in U.S. Senate
- Convicted Republican businessman Ben Suarez's company targets Democrats