Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More GOP Trouble in Ohio

Ohio governor Bob Taft is in trouble again.

Gov. Bob Taft, who has been a lawyer in Ohio since 1976, should be disciplined for failing to report golf outings and other gifts on his annual ethics statements, according to a complaint that the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel has filed.

Mr. Taft, a Republican who is the great-grandson of a U.S. president, pleaded no contest in August to four misdemeanor violations of state ethics laws.

In his court-ordered apology to Ohioans, Mr. Taft admitted that over seven years he had failed to report 45 golf outings, including one in 2002 with Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe, as well six other social events and a Senior Open gift set that he received from Mr. Noe.

The governor was found guilty and fined $4,000. He was the first sitting governor in Ohio to be convicted of a crime.

Jonathan Coughlan, the Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel, said Mr. Taft violated Ohio’s code of professional conduct for lawyers, which states that a lawyer shall not “engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law.” The governor could face discipline ranging from a public reprimand to a permanent loss of his law license, Mr. Coughlan said.

His law license could also be suspended for up to two years.

This comes on top of the news that Kenneth Blackwell, one of the Republicans who would like to succeed Mr. Taft in the governor’s office, revealed last week that he had “accidentally” bought stock in Diebold, the company that supplied the voting machines to the state. Mr. Blackwell’s current occupation, aside from running for governor, is that of Ohio Secretary of State. One of his duties is overseeing and certifying elections. Ding-ding-ding.

Ohio has always held a unique place in machine politics from Cleveland to Cincinnati to Toledo. It now looks like they’re taking on the national GOP trend of klutzy and fumbling incompetence and blatant cronyism.