Friday, April 29, 2005

Just Say Noe

From the Toledo Blade:

The federal probe into whether local Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe was illegally funneling money to the Bush campaign had been ongoing for months. It reached a turning point Wednesday night.

FBI agents swept into Mr. Noe’s Maumee condo about 7:30 p.m., spending three hours scouring the home of one of the most prominent Republicans in northwest Ohio. They were looking for evidence of violations of federal campaign contribution laws.

The federal probe is studying Mr. Noe’s campaign contributions to the President, and specifically contributions made by others who may have received money from Mr. Noe, possibly allowing him to exceed the $2,000 spending cap.

[…]

Mr. Noe, 50, is a coin dealer and former chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party. He manages two rare-coin funds that have received $50 million from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.

That investment arrangement is currently under a separate investigation being conducted by the Ohio inspector general.

Mr. Noe also is chairman of the Ohio Turnpike Commission and a member of the Ohio Board of Regents.

He also is chairman of the U.S. Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

Yesterday, state Sen. Marc Dann, a Democrat from suburban Youngstown, asked federal, state, and county authorities to investigate whether there were any violations involving state and local campaign contributions.

“It’s becoming clear that Tom Noe has given large contributions to Republicans, while also obtaining state contracts in which he made millions of dollars investing in risky rare coins,” Mr. Dann said.

[…]

Reached for comment yesterday after a Statehouse event, Gov. Bob Taft, who has strongly defended Mr. Noe in the past, said he was “certainly surprised” on Wednesday to learn of the federal investigation.

Mr. Taft said he did not plan to ask for Mr. Noe’s resignation from the Ohio Board of Regents or the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

“I think we need to let that investigation run its course, to see what happens before we make any decisions on a matter like that,” he said.

When asked if he still supports the state’s rare-coin investment with Mr. Noe, the governor replied:

“Well, I think that’s the purpose of the inspector general’s investigation. It obviously has achieved a return for the state of Ohio. It’s been part of the overall successful investment policy of the bureau.

“But if there are serious questions or concerns with regard to the appropriateness of the bureau investing in that particular investment, that is what the inspector general will be focusing on,” Mr. Taft said.

Not that it’s any surprise, but I’m sure that there are a lot more stories like this just waiting to be told. Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay are just the tip of the iceberg.