Who Really Won?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

More 'Coingate' News

For those new to the "Coingate" story, the LA Times does a review:

Now, (Tom) Noe is at the center of a political and financial scandal revolving around an unorthodox $55.4-million fund for the state's workers' compensation bureau that involved the buying and selling of rare coins.

Last month, authorities learned that at least $12 million of the state's investment for injured workers was missing. Two gold coins, worth about $300,000, had somehow been lost in the mail.

The director of the state bureau voluntarily quit. A judge has ordered the return to Ohio of coins stored in four other states and has frozen the Noes' assets.

And as state officials prepare to file criminal and civil charges against Noe, 50, the GOP is stampeding away from the former Lucas County GOP chairman. Dozens of Republicans — including Bush, Schwarzenegger and Ohio Gov. Robert A. Taft — are returning more than $100,000 in donations.

The Toledo Blade has been the one finding all the news. From today's story:

Partisans in Washington argue that a Republican "culture of corruption" extends far beyond Tom Noe and Columbus, reaching all the way to the White House and Capitol Hill.

They say recent revelations about wrongdoing in the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and its rare-coin investment with Mr. Noe, a prominent Republican campaign contributor, have given new life to Democrats clinging to the belief that last year's election was riddled with corruption in Ohio.

Mr. Noe is facing multiple federal and state investigations, including a probe into whether he laundered money for President Bush's re-election campaign by funneling contributions through people who had not reached the maximum $2,000 donation allowed by federal law - helping Mr. Bush monetarily in the key swing state.

Mr. Noe was classified as a Bush "pioneer" because he raised at least $100,000 for the President's campaign.

The controversy has Democrats questioning whether the Ohio Republicans who permitted the state's rare-coin investment could have been capable of wrongdoing at the polls last November.

U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Lorain, said his Republican counterparts in Washington and Columbus have left a trail of misdeeds that was highlighted during last year's presidential race. If President Bush collected illegal money in Ohio, Mr. Brown said, it casts some questions about the results of the election.

"When you see one party with this much power, corruption sets in," Mr. Brown said. "I don't know of any state that has seen it this bad.

"People are stunned by the corruption and arrogance of Ohio's Republicans," he said.

Election questions
That's why some Democratic members of Congress are planning to meet with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean next week to talk about what happened in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election.

Ohio held the keys to the White House last year, deciding the presidential race by a margin of fewer than 120,000 votes.

"I think there should be an investigation of Ohio," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who last week put a statement on the congressional record about Ohio's investment scandal. She said she is hopeful a meeting with Mr. Dean will put Democrats in position to undertake a review of what occurred in her home state.

Some Democrats point to Lucas County for examples of concerns in last year's election. Mrs. Noe was chairman of the county Republican Party and chairman of the county Board of Elections.

In April, she resigned from the county elections board amid concern about how the 2004 election was run. The board was completely recast because of concerns about the failure to secure ballots during last year's election, failure to secure poll books after the official canvass, and problems with some absentee ballot forms.

There were also questions about long lines and a lack of voting machines at polls that typically have a large Democratic voter turnout.

"I can't speak for other counties, but I know inside this county when [Mrs. Noe] was in charge, it was chaotic or it was ineptness," Miss Kaptur said. "Something was very sly. I have become very suspicious of what happened."

She added, "There has been no sunshine into what happened on that board."

If there were alleged problems in Lucas County, Democrats say it should not be assumed that there were not concerns elsewhere in Ohio. Thus, an investigation should take place, they say.

Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio GOP, said the party will welcome any inquiry the Democrats wish to pursue.

"If the Democrats want to continue losing the last election, they can count the votes as many times as they would like," Mr. Bennett said through a spokesman.

The Republicans go on to call it, yes, once again, an 'isolated problem'. Funny how those problems always favor the corrupt Republican party, ain't it?