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CLEVELAND -- Republican Senate Candidate Josh Mandel's hiring of former campaign staffers for key jobs in his State Treasurer's office is an issue in his race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen.Sherrod Brown.

Brown, his campaign, and critics label it cronyism and hypocritical because Mandel criticized similar practices by his predecessor.

Now Mandel's disclosing information about two people once hired by Sherrod Brown.

He brought the information to light in a one-on-one interview with WKYC Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres, taped Friday for airing Sunday morning on Between the Lines.

Asked about his own hiring practices, he said, "We've hired experienced financial professionals...we have a variety of people in our office."

But then he turned the tables, talking about Sherrod Brown.

"When he was Secretary of State, he had a convicted murderer working there," Mandelsaid

The Mandel campaign provide a July 8, 1990, Columbus Dispatch story about a Secretary of State worker named James H. Montgomery.

The article identifies mailroomemployee James H. Montgomery as the subject of 1983 and 1985 Ohio Highway Patrol drug investigations.

It says he served time for manslaughter and disclosed his felony record.

A Brown campaign spokesman says Brown's office was giving Montgomery a second chance.

The article says he was fired for failing to come to work for several days.

Mandel made a second claim.

"His transition director for his Senate office is now a convicted felon in prison," he said.

The Brown campaign acknowledges Ngozi Pole helped then-rookie U.S. Sen. Brown set up his office, working five months in 2007.

Pole previously worked for late U.S. Sen.Ted Kennedy.

After he left Brown's office, Pole was charged with wire fraud and theft forgiving himself $77,000 worth ofillegal bonus checks while working for Kennedy.

Some of the paperwork to do that was filled out during his time on Brown's staff.

He's now serving 20 months in prison.

Voters will have to decide the importance and relevance of the charges.

Brown campaign spokesman Justin Barasky said, "Josh Mandel is a candidate completely out of control who has resorted to the lowest form of political mudslinging all because he can't handle the fact that Ohio's newspapers have accurately branded him as dishonest, untruthful and misleading."

This is one of the most-watched, most expensive and most important U.S. Senate races, with control of the Senate up for grabs.

Outside groups and SuperPacs are pouring millions into campaigns for both candidates.

The latest poll, done by the Columbus Dispatch, has the race a toss-up.

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