Treasurer: O'Brien (R) Blames Bradley (R) For Coingate
This is a very interesting article in the Toledo Blade. Last weekend Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O'Brien (R), pictured at right, the primary challenger to recently-appointed incumbent Treasurer Jennette Bradley (R), pictured at left, accused her opponent of allowing the Tom Noe/Coingate scandal to happen by failing to do her job. O'Brien points out that state law provides that the treasurer is the "custodian" of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's insurance fund and is thus responsible for its "safekeeping." Coin dealer and Republican fundraiser Tom Noe has been indicted for stealing money from the rare-coin investment he managed for the BWC. Ergo, Bradley is to blame for Coingate because she failed to perform her duty of keeping the fund safe.
Bradley, of course, is screaming foul. A Treasury spokesman called the charge "outright erroneous" and offered this incredible hair-splitting explanation, as reported in the article:
"He explained that the treasurer is the custodian of the fund, which means she is responsible for the safekeeping of the bureau's contract with Mr. Noe - not the 'Beanie Baby or the rare coin or the sports memorabilia.' Our responsibility is to hold onto the agreement that the BWC entered into. ... We can have no influence on that entity. We have no role in the investment policy at BWC, what they invest in or what decisions are made there. ... To say the treasury has a responsibility with the decision-making or the money is very misleading."So what, Bradley was the "custodian" of the contractual document, and her safekeeping duties stopped with protecting a piece of paper? What about the fact that buying rare coins was undeniably a bizarre, unprecedented investment for a government fund? What about the lack of controls over Noe's handling of the investment? O'Brien, at any rate, is having none of this defense. She says that the code "clearly" states that the treasurer is the custodian of the assets, meaning "every time Tom Noe bought or sold a coin or Beanie Baby, he should have been at the state treasurer's office." In other words, Bradley "basically wasn't doing her job," adding "It is her job, per code." O'Brien promises that the Coingate scandal will remain part of her primary campaign against Ms. Bradley.
Of course, the question that will leap to every Democrat's lips is "What about Blackwell?" Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R), a candidate for Governor, was Treasurer in 1998 when the coin fund was created. O'Brien responds "I'm running against [Bradley]. I'm not going to address what I don't know."
I can think of some other candidates who won't hestitate to address it.