Josh Mandel

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Josh Mandel
Josh Mandel.jpg
48th Treasurer of Ohio
In office
January 10, 2011 – January 14, 2019
GovernorJohn Kasich
Preceded byKevin Boyce
Succeeded byRobert Sprague
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 17th district
In office
January 1, 2007 – January 1, 2011
Preceded byJim Trakas
Succeeded byMarlene Anielski
Personal details
Joshua Aaron Mandel

(1977-09-27) September 27, 1977 (age 41)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Ilana Shafran (m. 2008)
EducationOhio State University (BA)
Case Western Reserve University (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Marine Corps Reserve seal Marine Corps Reserve
Years of service2000–2008
RankUSMC-E5.svg Sergeant
Battles/warsIraq War

Joshua Aaron Mandel (born September 27, 1977) is an American Republican politician who served as the State Treasurer of Ohio from 2011 to 2019. Mandel is a former city councilman and member of the Ohio House of Representatives. He was the unsuccessful Republican challenger to incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown in the 2012 U.S. Senate election. In 2016, he announced his intention to again challenge Brown in 2018; he withdrew on January 5, 2018, citing family health reasons.[1]

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Mandel was born on September 27, 1977 in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Rita (née Friedman) and Bruce Mandel.[2][3][4] He has a sister, Rachel. He attended Beachwood High School where he was the quarterback of the football team.[5] Mandel attended The Ohio State University where he earned a BA in communication. At Ohio State, he served two terms as the undergraduate student government president. While there he was also a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.[6] After graduating in 2000, he earned a JD from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.[7]

Mandel enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, where he served eight years as an intelligence specialist. His first tour was from February to November 2004, during which he was attached to a light armored reconnaissance battalion. He left for his second tour in September 2007. Attached to an infantry battalion, Mandel served in the city of Haditha.[5]

Political career[edit]

Lyndhurst councilman[edit]

Mandel's experience as an elected official began as a Lyndhurst, Ohio city councilman, where he was elected in 2003. He served three years on the council's finance committee.

On January 24, 2005, Mandel sent a letter to Lyndhurst residents, proposing a one time tax rebate of $400, paying the postage for the letters from his campaign fund.[8][9] Faced with opposition from fellow council members, Mandel introduced and advocated for a 2 mill property tax rollback, which would have saved the average homeowner $100 a year on a home valued at $160,000.[10] What passed council, on April 4, 2005, was a 1.5 mill rollback, which saved the average homeowner $75 a year.[11]

Ohio House of Representatives[edit]


Mandel was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in November 2006.[12][13] He represented Ohio's 17th House district, consisting of 17 communities of various sizes in southeastern Cuyahoga County. Mandel was re-elected to a second term in 2008.


Mandel's first piece of legislation as a State Representative, H.B. 151, was an initiative to force the multibillion-dollar Ohio pension funds to divest from companies doing business in Iran. He joined State Representative Shannon Jones (R) in an attempt to make Ohio the first state in the nation to divest from Iran, but the legislation was never signed into law due to a compromise between state pension executives and Ohio House leadership, agreed to by Mandel.[14] Then-Speaker of the Ohio House Jon Husted brokered a deal to drop half of the state's investments in Iran and Sudan with the eventual goal of removing all investment from the two countries.[15] In April 2010, Mandel appeared on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" to discuss his leadership on Iran divestment in Ohio.[16]

In the 127th Assembly, Mandel, along with other members of the Ohio House who served in Iraq, were excused from voting on HB649 in December 2008, which provided payments to military veterans of the Middle East wars and compensation to families who had lost loved ones in the conflicts.[17][18]

In the 128th Assembly, Mandel was one of 19 house members to vote against HB108, a bill to make cockfighting a felony.[19] Mandel said that the legislation was not a pressing priority for the state and that the General Assembly should spend its time in other ways.[20]

Also in the 128th Assembly, Mandel voted against the Ohio House Bill 176,[21] the Equal Housing and Employment Act which "[p]rohibits discriminatory practices on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" under many of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) Law's existing prohibitions against various unlawful discriminatory practices.".[22] The bill passed the Ohio House by a vote of 56 to 39.

State Treasurer[edit]

In May 2009, Mandel announced his candidacy for Ohio Treasurer of State via web video.[23] Mandel's campaign generated controversy in late September 2010 when it ran a TV commercial falsely suggesting that Mandel's opponent, African-American Kevin Boyce, was a Muslim.[24] The commercial was criticized for playing on anti-Muslim bias,[24] and was ultimately withdrawn by the Mandel campaign.[25][26] However, voters subsequently received a campaign mailing with similar themes. The Mandel campaign said that the Ohio Republican Party was responsible for the mailers, which had already been sent bulk rate, up to a week prior.[27]

In October 2010, in response to an Ohio Democratic Party complaint, the Ohio Elections Commission found that Mandel had deceptively depicted Boyce (an African Methodist Episcopal) as a Muslim in the ads.[28][29] On November 2, 2010, Mandel was elected Ohio State Treasurer, defeating Boyce by 14 percentage points to become chief investment officer of state funds.[30] Mandel was sworn in on January 10, 2011.

During Mandel's time as treasurer, Ohio retained the highest possible rating from Standard & Poor's for the state's $4 billion government investment fund.[31] On March 19, 2012, Mandel severed contracts with two major banks that handled $41 billion in Ohio pension investments, amid government investigations into whether the banks overcharged clients for currency trading accusing them of "systematically exploiting public pension funds and taxpayers."[32]

Mandel was reelected to a second term as state treasurer in 2014,[33] defeating Democratic State Representative Connie Pillich.[34][edit]

On December 2, 2014 Mandel launched, a website that reports every expenditure in state government,[35] in an effort, according to Mandel, to "create an army of citizen watchdogs who have the power to hold politicians accountable."[36] In September 2018, Mandel was awarded the "Transparency in Government Award" by the State Financial Officers Foundation for his work on and promoting greater government spending transparency in Ohio and across the country.[37]

STABLE Accounts[edit]

In summer 2015, Ohio passed legislation granting the Ohio Treasurer's Office the authority to open and administer ABLE accounts; such accounts are a federally-authorized, state-run savings program for eligible people with disabilities. In June 2016, Mandel began offering the nation's first ABLE accounts, called in Ohio "STABLE Accounts".[38] The Ohio Treasurer's Office, in addition to administering Ohio's STABLE Accounts, also jointly administers the ABLE accounts in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.[39][40][41]

Advertising controversy[edit]

In 2016 and 2017, the Ohio Treasurer's Office under Mandel spent almost $1.7 million in taxpayer-funded television ads, featuring him and Urban Meyer, the head coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes football team.[42] Mandel's office made each payment for the ads to individual television stations in an amount less than $50,000 per fiscal year, thus circumventing the need for approval by the state Controlling Board, which must sign-off on state payments over this amount.[42][43] Thirteen ad buys were within $1,000 of the $50,000 threshold.[42] Mandel defended the ads, saying they helped increase awareness of an investment program for disabled Ohioans. Critics questioned the airing of self-promotional ads at a time when Mandel was running for U.S. Senate and said that Mandel's office was trying to avoid scrutiny by structuring the ad buys to avoid Controlling Board approval.[42][43]

In response to the controversy, the Ohio House introduced an amendment to the state's 2017 budget. The amendment would require approval by the Controlling Board for ad buys that in aggregate exceed $50,000. This rule would have prevented Mandel from avoiding oversight by distributing the advertising campaign among individual ad buys.[44] Mandel did not attend an Ohio Senate hearing on the matter. He sent a deputy instead.[45][edit]

On November 25, 2018, Mandel made Ohio the first state in America to enable taxpayers to pay taxes with cryptocurrency.[46] This initiative,, was described by Mandel as an effort to provide more options to Ohio taxpayers and to project Ohio as a state that is embracing blockchain technology.[47]  Mandel described himself as a cryptocurrency enthusiast and said that he hopes the launch of will bring more legitimacy to cryptocurrency.[48]

2012 U.S. Senate election[edit]

Mandel was the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in the 2012 General Election.[49] Josh Mandel officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate March 1, 2012, in a speech to the Akron Press Club.[50] He won the March 6, 2012 Republican primary with 63% of the vote in a five candidate race.[51]

Mandel earned the endorsement of several prominent conservative politicians including: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. John McCain.[52] Mandel received the endorsement of the Club for Growth,[53] Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund,[54] Senator Rob Portman, Congressman Jim Jordan[54][55] and conservative commentators Hugh Hewitt and Mark Levin.

Mandel's campaign was singled out by the independent fact-checking group Politifact for its "casual relationship with the truth" and its tendency to "double down" after inaccuracies were pointed out. The fact-checking group wrote: "For all the gifts Mandel has, from his compelling personal narrative as an Iraq war veteran to a well-oiled fundraising machine, whoppers are fast becoming a calling card of his candidacy."[56]

Mandel had raised $7.2 million through the first quarter of 2012; his $5.3 million cash on hand trailed Brown's $6.3 million.[57] Mandel benefited from massive support from conservative out-of-state superPACs, which raise unlimited amounts of money from anonymous donors. These outside groups, including Crossroads GPS, aired $10 million in TV advertising supporting Mandel and attacking Brown as of July 2012, outspending Democratically-aligned outside groups by more than five-to-one.[58] Mandel's campaign was aided by over $1 million spent primarily on attack ads by a 501(c)(4) organization called the "Government Integrity Fund".[59]

Mandel lost to Sherrod Brown, the incumbent Democrat in the November 6, 2012 General Election, losing 45% to 51%.[60]

In August 2013, Mandel was accused of violating federal and state campaign laws by using a vehicle owned by his U.S. Senate campaign for personal use unrelated to the campaign. No charges were brought and there was no case made against him. Mandel was involved in a traffic accident with the vehicle on March 5, 2013 near Toledo, Ohio, nearly four months after the campaign.[61]

2018 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In December 2016, Mandel announced that he would seek election to the United States Senate in the 2018 election.[62]

In late 2016, a Super PAC called Ohio Freedom Fund was created in order to help elect Mandel. The Ohio Freedom Fund's primary contributor is Citizens for a Working America, a nonprofit not subject to campaign finance disclosures. At the time that the Ohio Freedom Fund Super PAC was created, Mandel, in his capacity as state treasurer, was appearing in a series of advertisements promoting a new investment program for families with special needs children. Mandel's office said the ads were taped and aired before Mandel was a candidate for U.S. Senate.[63][64]

In July 2017, Mandel stated his support for alt-right activists and conspiracy theorists Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec after Cernovich and Posobiec were criticized in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report. Mandel accused the ADL of being a "partisan witchhunt group" and tweeted "I stand with @Cernovich & @JackPosobiec."[65]

Mandel dropped out of the race on January 5, 2018, citing the need to spend more time with his family relating to his wife's health issues.[1]

Political positions[edit]

Health care reform[edit]

Mandel has called for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[66] In a campaign advertisement during his 2012 Senatorial run, Mandel claimed opponent Sherrod Brown "cast the deciding vote on the government takeover of health care". Politifact has labeled as false the claim that Brown cast the deciding vote for the act. The description of the act as a government takeover of health care, by Mandel, has been labeled by Politifact as "nonsensical" and a "myth".[67]

Climate change and energy[edit]

Mandel rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. He has referred to climate change research as "riddled with fraud" and has vowed to fight attempts to advance clean-air standards.[68]

Mandel has called for what he terms as "aggressive and responsible" energy exploration that protects "the air we breathe and water we drink" while reducing environmental regulation.[69] He supports the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.[70] Mandel is a supporter of expanded coal plants and has criticized what he has termed as "radical" environmental groups.[68]

Iraq and Afghanistan[edit]

In 2012, Mandel said that he disagreed with plans to set a "date certain" for withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, also stating that "at some point in time, we have to take the training wheels off and we have to allow those countries to stand on their own two feet."[71]


Mandel was a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at The Ohio State University.[72] He spoke at the 2008 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C, where he said, "Israel is our best friend and ally in the Middle East and it's important that we maintain a strong and lasting relationship with them."[72] In the same speech, Mandel stated Iran was a threat and discussed his divestment initiatives as a legislator in Ohio.[73]

Foreign policy[edit]

In 2012, Mandel broke with Mitt Romney on foreign policy concerning the status of U.S. military forces in Europe, advocating for their withdrawal.[74]

Personal life[edit]

Mandel and his wife Ilana reside in Beachwood, Ohio with their three children, Rosie, Judah, and Gideon. They were married August 28, 2008, in Jerusalem.[75]

Mandel said in a speech that his maternal grandfather, Joe, is originally from Poland and is a Holocaust survivor, while his maternal grandmother, Fernanda, is originally from Italy and was hidden from the Nazis by a Catholic family during World War II.[76] In a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, he said the tribulations of his grandparents and family inspired him to public service.[76]

Electoral history[edit]

Election results
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
2012 U.S. Senator Primary Josh Mandel Republican 586,556 63.02 Michael Pryce Republican 132,205 14.20 Donna Glisman Republican 115,621 12.42 David Dodt Republican 47,933 5.15 Eric Gregory Republican 47,740 5.13 Russell Bliss Republican 644 0.07
Election results[77]
Year Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
2006 Ohio House of Representatives Josh Mandel Republican 36,729 67% Roger J. Goudy Democratic 18,047 33%
2008 Ohio House of Representatives Josh Mandel Republican 48,280 72% Bob Belovich Democratic 19,119 28%
2010 Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel Republican 2,050,142 55% Kevin Boyce Democratic 1,525,992 41% Matthew Cantrell Libertarian 184,478 5%
2012 U.S. Senator Josh Mandel Republican 2,435,744 45% Sherrod Brown Democratic 2,762,766 51% Scott Rupert Independent 250,617 4%
2014 Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel Republican 1,724,060 57% Connie Pillich Democratic 1,323,325 43%


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kevin Boyce
Treasurer of Ohio
Succeeded by
Robert Sprague
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike DeWine
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Ohio
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Jim Renacci