May 27, 2005
Coingate: no longer small change
UPDATED Suddenly the Republicans find themselves with a major scandal on their hands:
The Ohio Attorney General’s office announced today that the state will immediately pursue civil and criminal measures against Maumee coin dealer Tom Noe after his legal counsel informed the state that a substantial amount of assets from his Capital Coin Funds are missing.
Mr. Noe’s legal counsel advised the state that $10 million to $12 million of the state’s assets held by Capital Coin are unaccounted for. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has invested $50 million with Mr. Noe’s rare-coin funds since 1998.
“Today’s news makes it clear that Tom Noe has irresponsibly mismanaged the monies of the state of Ohio,” Governor Bob Taft said today in a statement released by his office. “Such criminal action is outrageous and will not be tolerated. We will pursue all legal avenues possible to recover these funds for injured workers and employers. It is imperative that we do all we can to keep the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) solvent and strong.”
Small wonder Taft is so eager to clean up the mess. The scandal has already touched pretty much every part of the Ohio Republican machine, and earlier this week it reached his office, when Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles asked the governor for e-mails, phone records, and personnel files for former Chief of Staff Brian Hicks and three other current and former employees.
Until today, Coingate looked containable. Now that Republican bankroller and Bush “pioneer” Noe appears to have taken the concept of “fundraising” to a whole new level, that’s not going to be possible.
UPDATE Today Taft announced that James Conrad, director of the BWC, would resign. Also, listen to Sam from Air America call the BWC and try to sell them his collection of baseball cards, action figures, stamps and Broadway memorabilia.
More background here.
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