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June 9, 2005

When was Taft told?

As the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s $12 million Coingate losses are dwarfed by its $215 million hedge-fund wipe-out, one question keeps popping up: how much did Ohio Governor Bob Taft know, and how long did he know it?

Yesterday, a Taft spokesman said that the governor knew about up to $20 million of the fund’s losses back in September. However, according to a new report by the Toledo Blade, Taft’s office has known the full extent of the losses for over seven months—and kept quiet:

In an Oct. 26, 2004, e-mail to Taft aide James Samuel, the bureau’s administrator-CEO, James Conrad, wrote that the “entire value” of the portfolio managed by MDL Capital Management was down about $225 million.
Mr. Conrad also alerted the governor’s office that the bureau had rejected MDL’s request for another $25 million and the firm was in danger of collapsing, which he said would be “likely to make national news.”
… Mark Rickel, the governor’s press secretary, said Mr. Taft did not see Mr. Conrad’s e-mail, was not told about it by Mr. Samuel, and Mr. Conrad did not talk to the governor about it.

Last night Rickel said that Samuel recognized the e-mail when the governor’s office learned of it yesterday, but had not remembered it previously. Doesn’t sound like the kind of email you’d forget—or one you wouldn’t mention to the governor.

Taft isn’t talking, but his opponents are:

House Minority Leader Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) said he did not believe Mr. Rickel and referred to Mr. Taft hiding “in a bunker.”
“Someone in the governor’s office has a loose interpretation of what the truth is. I can’t believe for a moment that no one told the governor,” Mr. Redfern said.

Posted by Stephen at 2:45 AM in Politics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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