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Major GOP scandal developing in Ohio

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Ok, so you know how the GOP is looking for new ways for you to invest your social security funds? Those private accounts? Take a look at how they invest money in their favorite red state, Ohio....

According to the April 6th edition of the Toledo Blade, the state has taken to investing in rare coins. No Kidding. Rare coins. Through a major GOP fundraiser, of course.

Since 1998, Ohio has invested millions of dollars in the unregulated world of rare coins, buying nickels, dimes, and pennies. Controlling the money for the state? Prominent local Republican and coin dealer Tom Noe, whose firm made more than $1 million off the deal last year alone.

The agreement to invest the money in rare coins is rare itself: The Blade could find no other instance of a state government investing in a rare coin fund. Neither the state nor Mr. Noe could provide one.

"I don't think I'd be excited to invest in rare coins," Vermont Treasurer Mike Ablowich said. "It's a little unusual."

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has continued to be the sole investor in Mr. Noe's Capital Coin funds despite strong concerns raised by an auditor with the bureau about possible conflicts of interest and whether the state's millions were adequately protected.
This is outrageous. Public funds invested in rare coins...even I know that's not sound fiscal policy. It's amazing that people in Ohio trust the GOP with their state and their money.

Fortunately, the Ohio Democrats have seized on this issue. A group of Democratic State Senators have been pounding the issue all week. From the Blade article:

Ohio Democrats yesterday stepped up their call for an investigation by Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles.

Senate Democrats sent him a letter yesterday expressing concern that said the bureau "may be in breach of its responsibility" under state law to Ohio taxpayers to "safeguard public dollars."

The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss (D., Cleveland), Assistant Minority Leader Mark Mallory (D., Cincinnati), Minority Whip Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), and Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hagan (D., Youngstown).

The Democratic legislators also said they were concerned with the "political appearance of BWC's decision to invest so heavily in such risky business."

"We are concerned with the appearance that political connections, rather than sound financial planning, motivated BWC's decision to invest millions in Mr. Noe's rare coins," the Democratic senators wrote to Mr. Charles.

Mr. Noe and the bureau separately have said that politics had nothing to do with the bureau's investment in Mr. Noe's rare coin funds.
Sure, politics weren't involved....sure. These kinds of risky financial schemes have to be draped around the neck of every Republican in the state, just like Social Security at the national level. The GOP can't be trusted with your's either record deficits or rare coins.

Apparently, it's not viewed by some as a problem by some. The Toledo Blade reported that Ken Blackwell, the Secretary of State and 2006 candidate for Governor, has no problem with this action:

Mr. Blackwell said his position hasn't changed, but he said he would not criticize the bureau's investment in rare coin funds.

"I would never have any reason to question Jim Conrad's integrity. When you run a fund size of $18 billion and you're looking at $50 million, 'Beyond what one's disposition might be, is that an irresponsible amount of risk?' Most people would say no," he said.
Yeah, Ken, what's $50 million in public funds among friends?

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