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Ohio GOP Coin-Gate: Charge of "Actual misappropriation of state funds" by major GOP fundraiser

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Tom Noe, the maga-GOP fundraiser is now accused of "actual misappropriation of state funds" while he was raising money for Bush-Cheney and the other Ohio GOP leaders. Today's Toledo Blade article gives a good overview of the scandal and the latest angle:

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said yesterday that he has “reason to believe” Mr. Noe, a prominent Toledo-area Republican fund-raiser and rare-coin dealer, has misappropriated “more than $10 million” in state assets.

“I have reason to believe it is more than just missing assets or lost assets or otherwise,” said Mr. O’Brien, a Republican. “I have reason to believe there is actual misappropriation of state funds involved ... I’m talking about conversion for personal use.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Noe used some of the state’s money to make contributions to Republican candidates, including President Bush’s re-election campaign, Mr. O’Brien said.

The Bush-Cheney campaign lists Mr. Noe as a “Pioneer,” for raising from $100,000 to $250,000 for the President’s re-election campaign.

The U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI are investigating whether Mr. Noe violated campaign-finance laws. That probe has focused on an October, 2003, fund-raiser in Columbus that generated $1.4 million for the Bush campaign.

Gov. Bob Taft has scheduled a Statehouse news conference today to respond to the unfolding GOP scandal.
Every day, there is another angle to this story. But today's news is almost stunning. The Republican prosecutor can't say that the money wasn't used to help elect George W. Bush. That's rich. The scandal should bring down the Ohio GOP hierarchy.

One key thing....when the Blade first reported the rare-coin investment, back in early April, the state's leading GOP elected officials were disdainful. They would not investigate or even question the investment.

The Toledo Blade reported on April 6, 2005 that the Ohio Workers Compensation Board attacked Democrats for asking for an investigation:
Yesterday, Jeremy Jackson, the bureau's press secretary, said it was "unfortunate that there is a group of legislators trying to use taxpayers dollars to investigate a profitable investment. In our opinion, that is the real waste of taxpayers' dollars."
The head of the Workers Compensatio Bureau sent a letter to legislators telling them to back off:
James Conrad, administrator of the bureau, sent letters this week to several Ohio Democrats who were critical of the coin deal. In his letter, Mr. Conrad said the bureau made money on the investment and that it was properly vetted.

"The fact is both Capital Coin funds have performed well for the benefit of Ohio's employers and injured workers," Mr. Conrad wrote.
Conrad and his decision to invest $50 million in Noe's fund was supported by Ken Blackwell, the Secretary of State and a candidate for Governor (who oversaw the 2004 elections). Blackwell:
"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."
Hey, Ken, what's $50 million among friends? That kind of attitude is pervasive in Ohio...and in DC for that matter.

See, the reality, which most Americans don't understand is that the GOP really does have no respect for public money. If it's not rare coins in Ohio, it's the federal deficit. And, to prove that, today's Blade also gives some insight in to what the people of Ohio have invested their $50 million in:
The inventory inspection also involves an investigation of whether Mr. Noe’s Capital Coin invested part of $55 million in state funds to buy autographs, paintings, sports cards, and other collectibles, or whether those items were used as collateral.

A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said that besides the Christmas card signed by Jacqueline Onassis and the document signed by Thomas Jefferson, other collectibles bought with state funds include a rare photograph of Abraham Lincoln without a beard, a Norman Rockwell painting, and baseball cards and autographed baseballs.

There are thousands of items in the store, and include items related to almost every president.

“He’s claiming these were all investments,” the source said.

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