Three and a half years ago, Republican Josh Mandel abruptly gave up politics, citing an urgent need to care for his ailing wife.

While he was out of the public eye, Mandel took advantage of his connections – landing places on boards and joining startups – and ended her 12-year marriage to Ilana Shafran Mandel.

On his Recently Filed Senate Financial Disclosure Statement, Mandel, 43, reported income of $ 839,571 from January 1, 2020 to May 15, 2021, plus another windfall of $ 205,413 when he cashed outthe pension he received as a public employee.

Private sector concerts paid off handsomely:

  • $ 287,196 from Athene Co-Invest Reinsurance Affiliate 1A Ltd. in Bermuda,
  • $ 250,000 from Lonestar Generation LLC in Princeton, NJ,
  • $ 150,000 from Legal Business Services LLC,
  • $ 68,000 from Dayton Schear Financial Services based payday lender,
  • $ 42,000 from Hawkeye Capital Management in Miami Beach,
  • $ 29,875 from Capital Community Bank in Provo, Utah and
  • $ 12,500 from LiftCamp Inc., a startup Mandel helped found.

The backgrounds are pale compared to the millions won by some of Mandel’s opponents in the tight race for the US Senate. Still, the disclosure offered a window into the business connections of a man accustomed to public life who suddenly – and quietly – began to find his way into the private sector.

But Mandel maintains that he did not leverage the relationships he established as treasurer and instead took advantage of research firms and personal connections to land the contracts.

“Josh’s grandfather Joe worked at a plumbing parts factory and his grandmother Fernanda worked at a drugstore stocking shelves,” campaign manager Scott Guthrie said in an email. “The two instilled in Josh the importance of hard work, sweat and love of America.”

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Mandel made money from payday lender and hedge fund

So what are the entities that paid Mandel more than $ 800,000?

Schear Financial, based near Dayton, is owned by Lee Schear. Schear and his wife have donated $ 322,116 to political candidates and the Ohio Republican Party since 2015. The couple have donated a total of $ 21,800 to Team Josh, Mandel’s PAC, this year. Schear started out as a grocer and expanded into payday loans in the 1980s.

Mandel has a history of campaigning support for the payday loan industry. In 2012, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Mandel flew to the Bahamas to fundraise with payday lenders, bringing in at least $ 67,000 to his US Senate campaign through the event.

Athens, which provides financial services for retirement, was founded in 2009 and now has more than $ 212 billion in assets. He is based in Bermuda. It announced in March its merger with Apollo Global Management, a private equity giant. In federal Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures, Athene listed Mandel as a member of the board of directors of a subsidiary until 2024.

Business legal services has three branches that lend money to injured people to help them pay their bills while they await legal settlement. This is part of a settlement advance industry that has been the subject of legal action for charging rates and foreclosure fees. In 2018, an LBS affiliate, LawCash, and another court lender were ordered to pay a $ 2.3 million fine to settle a lawsuit brought against them by the Colorado attorney general.

Hawkeye Capital Management is a Miami Beach-based hedge fund. It oversees over $ 1 billion, employs nine people, and was founded in 1999 by Rich Rubin, who was instrumental in Mandel’s past campaigns.

Lonestar Generation LLC is an electricity utility which owns 100% of the capital of Frontera Holdings, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2021.

Capital Community Bank is based in Utah. Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center told the House Financial Services Committee in February, the Capital Community Bank was one of a handful of institutions running bank rental programs that trap consumers in high-cost installment loans. ChoiceCash Title Loans Partners with Capital Community Bank to issue loans in several states, including Ohio.

State Representative Kyle Koehler R-Springfield, who sponsored the Ohio payday loan reform bill in 2018, criticized Mandel for working closely with the industry.

State Representative Kyle Koehler R-Springfield sponsored a payday loan industry reform bill that became law three years ago.  He criticized former state treasurer Josh Mandel for accepting lucrative advisory and managerial positions in the industry.

“It makes me sick to think that just a few months after the Ohio Fairness in Lending Act went into effect, Josh Mandel ran away from his state treasurer’s office to work for payday lenders who were exploiting the Ohioans, ”Koehler said. “It looks like former treasurer Mandel filled his bank account with thousands of dollars in profits from payday lenders and securities that trapped Ohioans in debt traps.”

Position in the private sector

After leaving the treasurer’s office in early 2019, Mandel landed three private sector jobs – one as a CFO, one at a startup that never started, and a third with a new startup based in his hometown of Beachwood.

Boxbees Technologies, Inc., a startup that aimed to work on the excess packaging problem, according to the Mandel campaign. The company was incorporated in the state of Delaware in early 2020 but has no web presence. In registration documents filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, Mandel is listed as the CEO. (The filing is notarized by his father, Bruce Mandel, who is a lawyer.) Once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Boxbees never took off.

LiftCamp, Inc., is a startup that focuses on optimizing digital online advertising, according to the Mandel campaign. Mandel said he received a salary of $ 12,500 from LiftCamp between January 2020 and May 2021.

From April 2019, Mandel held the position of Chief Financial Officer of Management of compound assets, a crowdfunding platform for real estate investment. The New York-based company was then purchased in June 2020 by Republic Compound LLC. Mandel did not list Compound as a source of income from January 2020 to May 2021.

Back in known territory

Now Mandel is back in the political arena and campaign aggressively as he seeks to stand out among the crowded GOP field for the US Senate in 2022.

Most of Mandel’s career has been in the public sector as a Marine, city councilor, legislator and state treasurer. Between 2005 and 2008, he signed up as chairman of The Groveland Company LLC on its state ethical disclosures, but it’s unclear what that company did.

Until his three-year hiatus that began in January 2018, Mandel followed a tight schedule to achieve his political ambitions. After serving on Lyndhurst City Council, Mandel ran for Ohio House in 2006 and served two terms before running for state treasurer in 2010. Just months after being sworn in as treasurer , Mandel announced his candidacy for the US Senate. He lost to Democrat Sherrod Brown in 2012 and ran for re-election as state treasurer.

Mandel spent $ 1.8 million of taxpayer dollars running television commercials to promote a new savings program for families with disabled children. Mandel starred in the commercials alongside Ohio State Football coach Urban Meyer and a young woman with Down’s syndrome. Then he announced that he would run against Brown again, only to make his sudden demise.

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In the current race, Mandel presents himself as a Trump-loving populist who wants to disrupt the status quo – a refrain sung by most republicans who want to replace Senator Rob Portman. For him, that means bouncing between churches in Ohio to speak with supporters and use social media to take down his opponents and throw red meat at his base.

“While other contenders in this race prefer Silicon Valley or Harvard Hallways,” said Guthrie, “Josh plans to blow up the swamp and be the worst nightmare for these Never-Trumper cocktail elitists.”

Laura Bischoff and Haley BeMiller are reporters for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.