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Friday, May 27, 2005

Ohio Coin Dealer Cashes In On Political Contributions - $10 to 12 Million Missing

As James Drew and Mike Wilkinson of the Toledo Blade report, attorneys for coin dealer and major political benefactor Tom Noe report that $10 to 12 million is missing from the Ohio Board of Workers Compensation's $50 million investment with Noe.

Noe and his wife have an impressive resume of political contributions: they have scattered the more than $200,000 they have given to state and federal candidates and committees to the current governor, attorney general, state auditor, and secretary of state of Ohio, a past governor and current U.S. Senator from Ohio, many Ohio legislators, the current U.S. President, and the current governor of California. Noe was also a Bush Pioneer - one of the folks who bundled more than $100,000 for President Bush's campaign.

Noe's political contributions helped him create the connections which led to his being named the Chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Turnpike Commission, and a board created by President Bush in 2003 - the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to the U.S. Mint.

In addition to the missing money from the coin investment, Noe is also under investigation by the feds for possible violations of federal contribution limits in connection with a 2003 Bush fundraiser in Columbus.

That Noe is unable to produce more than $10 million of the $50 million which the state of Ohio invested with him makes it extremely likely that much of the money which ended up in campaign accounts across Ohio and the country was stolen from the people of Ohio. All of them, from President Bush on down, owe the injured workers of Ohio their money back.

That won't solve the bigger problem - the broken political process in Ohio. Ohioans have a great chance this summer to take some positive steps towards a democracy in which the state's top elected officials are accountable to the people, not their campaign contributors. Check out our Reform in Ohio page for more information on three initiatives that deal with campaign finance reform, drawing up legislative and congressional districts, and election administration.

**UPDATE**
Jon Craig reports in the Columbus Dispatch (sorry, no link - paid registration required) that in addition to Noe's political contributions, other brokers for the Workers Compensation Bureau have contributed more than $200,000 to Ohio politicians and political parties.

As TRU director Derek Cressman said in the article: “When rich folks can make contributions to candidates that the rest of us can’t afford, they end up with their candidates in office, while we’re left wondering where our $10 million went. This is a perfect example of why Ohio needs to tighten, not loosen its campaign finance laws.”

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