Tim Russo, a Democrat activist whose checkered past includes a felony conviction and ties to Occupy Cleveland, has announced his candidacy for the office of Cuyahoga County executive.
In 2001, Russo was arrested by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department for soliciting sex from a minor online. According to an officer interviewed in a WEWS-TV 5 segment from the time of the arrest, Russo “couldn’t believe that this was happening to him” and “was very upset” that he had been caught attempting to lure children to meet him for sex.
After Russo was convicted of a felony and sentenced to a year of probation, he worked as a campaign consultant for U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, presidential candidates John Kerry and Barack Obama, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In 2009, the British Labour Party disavowed their connection to Russo, telling the BBC that “if we had known of this conviction then the offer of his help would have been refused.” BBC reporters discovered that Russo had entered the country without a work permit or entry visa.
Russo ran for a Cuyahoga County Council seat in 2010, campaigning on the slogan that it was “time to no longer be defined by our mistakes.” Receiving 730 out of 6,128 votes, the formerly influential Democratic Party operative placed 4th in a field of 9 candidates seeking the Democrat nomination for the seat.
Mr. Russo resurfaced last year, hurling epithets at the August 18 Occupy the Truth rally organized by conservative groups to protest kid-gloves media coverage of the violent Occupy Wall Street movement.
When criticized on Twitter for his bigoted “reporting” after the event, Russo told radio host Dana Loesch she has a “nice ass” and commented on radio host Tony Katz’s “fat ass” before suggesting Katz is a closeted homosexual.
Russo served as a videographer for Occupy Cleveland before 5 members of the fringe-left movement were arrested in a 2012 FBI sting for plotting to blow up a highway bridge.
Russo responded via email to questions from Media Trackers about his candidacy.
His campaign has a singular focus on taking “money out of politics,” Russo said, adding that “it is morally wrong that 1% of the population sets policy for 99% based solely on their ability to purchase power.”
Before the Occupy Cleveland arrests, Ohio’s Occupy movement worked hand-in-hand with ProgressOhio, a union-funded leftist advocacy group whose executive director is paid more than $100,000 each year.
“I want to return the Democratic Party to its roots representing people, not money. I can’t think of anyone better to do that than me,” Russo told Media Trackers.
Russo insisted he and some of the “Cleveland 5” — the Occupy Cleveland terrorists that he said “let us all down” — had arguments about non-violence and protesting prior to the FBI bust.
“I had a couple intense debates about non-violence with Connor Stevens – I apparently went unheard,” Russo said. “In the Occupy movement, everyone has to commit to non-violence totally. It’s non-negotiable.”
Next year, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party primary voters will choose a new county executive from a field including Russo, Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland), Rep. Armond Budish (D-Beachwood), and former county sheriff Robert Reid.