June 22, 2005
And it keeps touching Taft:
Already under fire for his administration’s role in an investment scandal, Gov. Bob Taft admitted yesterday that he failed to disclose a number of golf outings as required by state law.
One of Taft’s playing partners on at least one occasion was scandal-tarred Toledo coin dealer Thomas W. Noe, a wellplaced source said on condition of anonymity. The men played at Toledo’s storied Inverness Club, the source said.
But it was unclear whether Taft was required to disclose to the Ohio Ethics Commission any golf he played with Noe. If the governor paid his own way, he would not be required to report it.
Taft’s office refused to confirm that Noe and the governor played golf together at Inverness, where Noe is a member, but Taft did ‘fess up to a number of previously undisclosed outings with still-to-be-named golf partners.
The admission will prompt an investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission, which could refer charges to the Franklin County prosecutor. If Taft knowingly filed a false financial-disclosure statement, he could face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
Noe, of course, is the Republican fundraiser at the center of the Coingate scandal, which involves a $50 million investment by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in rare-coin funds controlled by Noe. Up to $12 million of that cash is now unaccounted for. Noe is also being investigated by the FBI for alleged campaign-finance violations, including laundering contributions to President Bush’s re-election campaign.
Golf seems to be an Achille’s Heel for the Taft administration: during the past three years, failure to disclose golf trips involving people doing business with the state has played a role in the forced departure of four top Ohio officials.
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