Who Really Won?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Another Republican Cover Up

Here's the latest from the Toledo Blade:

In the final weeks of the 2004 presidential race, the nation focused on Ohio as both campaigns carefully choreographed every move by their candidates, knowing one misstep could throw the keys to the White House into the hands of the opponent.

The national media scrutinized every detail of the high-stakes political battle, as President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry crisscrossed Ohio, energizing their bases and reaching out to swing voters in the Buckeye state, which ultimately decided the race by fewer than 120,000 votes.

At the same time - beneath the surface and out of public view - allegations were swirling that Tom Noe had laundered contributions into President Bush's campaign, and facts were emerging that the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation had lost $215 million meant for injured workers in a Bermuda hedge-fund.

Now, more than six months later, those bombshells have created the biggest state government scandal in decades in Ohio. Democrats are charging that Republican leaders suppressed the potentially explosive information until all the votes were counted to save the President's re-election campaign.

The Blade has learned that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio knew of the campaign-finance allegations against Mr. Noe about three weeks before the November, 2004, election, giving it little time to do a thorough investigation.

Mr. Noe, a Toledo-area coin dealer, was chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio.

Democratic allegations of a GOP cover-up in the loss of $215 million managed by a Pittsburgh firm have surged in the last few days. Records released last week show that high-ranking aides to Gov. Bob Taft worked to suppress revelations about the hedge fund loss in the final days before the presidential election.

"Would it have been enough?" asked Jim Ruvolo, a Toledo consultant who was chairman of Mr. Kerry's presidential campaign in Ohio last year. "With only 118,000 votes, it doesn't take much."


U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat, said if Ohioans had learned about the MDL loss and the federal investigation into Mr. Noe's campaign contributions to President Bush before the Nov. 2, 2004, election, state results may have been different.

In addition to the presidential race, the ballot included a U.S. Senate seat. Voters re-elected Mr. Voinovich to a second six-year term over Democratic state Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Cleveland.

"This is likely the biggest scandal in our state's history," Mr. Brown said. "To keep that out of the public domain to save George Bush and George Voinovich's political future is pretty reprehensible," he added.


Mr. Mark, the editor of Campaign & Elections, said it is not surprising that The Blade began reporting on investment problems at the Bureau of Workers' Compensation just a few months after the presidential election was certified.

He said major U.S. political scandals tend to come to light in the aftermath of a campaign.

"With Watergate, within a couple of months, all of this started to unravel after [President] Nixon won the election. It's always hard to pinpoint if information was held based on political reasons, but in this case it looks like a lot of people could have had that in mind."