The Republican nominee for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, returned a pair of pants that the Ohio Democratic Party sent him for his birthday, saying he does not accept gifts.
Mandel's office returned the size 34 American Apparel khakis to the Democrats on Friday, a day after the party dropped off the gift and a card at his Columbus office.
The Democrats chose pants for Mandel's 35th birthday in recognition of the Republican receiving six "pants on fire" designations from PolitiFact -- the most for any Ohio politician -- during the Senate race.
Mandel is challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) for the seat.
In returning the pants, Mandel's general counsel, Seth Metcalf, said ethical reasons came before the birthday.
"Enclosed with this letter is the gift that your office left for the Treasurer of State yesterday at the front desk of this office," Metcalf wrote to Democratic Party executive director Kyle McDermott. "However, the Treasurer of State has a policy of generally not accepting any gifts. Thank you for your understanding and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions."
The pants and letter were returned via FedEx to the Democratic Party's office, a fact which Democrats are criticizing. Mandel's office is located a mile from the Democrats in downtown Columbus, with Google Maps estimating the drive is five minutes.
Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker dropped the pants off in person for Mandel's birthday. The card Zucker and Democrats attached to the pants was not returned by Metcalf. A picture of the card, pants and Zucker is below.
“We're collectively disappointed that Josh Mandel did not accept our birthday gift, instead choosing to waste taxpayer dollars by returning them overnight," Zucker told HuffPost. "Given Josh Mandel's obsession with peddling "pants on fire" falsehoods, it's only a matter of time before they would have come in handy.”
Zucker indicated that the party would give the pants to Goodwill. Treasurer's office spokesman Seth Unger could not be reached for comment about the office's decision to return the pants.
This is not the first time that Mandel, a tea party favorite, has tussled with Democrats over gifts. In April, Mandel came under fire from Brown's campaign for saying he does not accept gifts when he disclosed receiving gifts as treasurer and during his four years in the state legislature. At the time, Mandel's campaign spokesman told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that the gifts were primarily meals served by friends and family, including at weddings and a bar mitzvah, and that Mandel disclosed them out of caution.
Mandel's spokesman did say that Mandel did not eat $75 worth of food at the events, with $75 being the minimum disclosure value for any gift.
In addition to the pants, Mandel also received the endorsement of Move America Forward Freedom PAC, a pro-veterans and military families group, on his birthday. Mandel is a retired Marine who fought in Iraq. A new poll shows Brown leading Mandel by 10 points.