Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Friday, March 24

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.


At 11:57 AM, Anonymous InsideWatch said...

From... http://www.liberalbg.org/

Noes Gave BGSU $17,350

Ribeau Urged To Return Disputed Money

Bowling Green native Tom Noe and his wife Bernadette contributed $17,350 to the Bowling Green State University Foundation during the time that Tom Noe was investing $50 million of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation money in coin funds, records show.

Many politicians, including President Bush, returned contributions from the Noes that were received after March 31, 1998, the date Tom Noe received his first $25 million to invest in coins from the BWC. The Republicans reportedly returned the money because of allegations that money was in essence state investment funds rather than money earned by Tom Noe.

BGSU President Sidney Ribeau should return the money as “tainted” and restore the BGSU Foundation’s reputation.

Tom Noe is facing criminal charges filed by a federal prosecutor in October 2005 and a 53-count indictment issued by a county grand jury in February 2006.

The 3-count federal indictment charged that Noe illegally saw that $45,000 was donated to President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. Noe allegedly gave money to other people who in turn contributed it to Bush’s campaign through Noe to get around the $2,000 individual limit.

The 53-count indictment by a county grand jury alleged that Noe stole more than $3 million of the coin funds he invested for BWC and alleged both laundering and racketeering.

It has been alleged from various government and law enforcement sources that Noe may have lost as much as $13 million of the BWC’s money between March 31, 1998, when he received the first $25 million and May 2005.

Noe continues under investigation by law enforcement authorities and prosecutors.

The extent of Noe’s financial contributions to the BGSU Foundation since he began investing State of Ohio money in 1998 has gone largely unreported despite the Pulitzer Prize- quality investigative reporting by the Toledo Blade. The Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune ignored the story about Bowling Green native Noe for several weeks and continues to downplay its coverage. So much for a local newspaper covering a local story.

In order to provide Bowling Green readers the unreported facts, BG 4 Corners News & Views obtained the details of contributions by former BGSU trustee Noe since 1998 to BGSU.

An Ohio Public Records Act request under Ohio Revised Code Section 149.43 was made to Sidney Ribeau, president of BGSU, on Dec. 3, 2005. Three weeks later a response from Thomas A. Trimboli, general counsel, was received. He provided some documents and but stated in his letter that he did so out of courtesy not legal obligation.

Why is this information important?

It is important because BGSU should not be apparently benefiting from what may be “tainted” money. BGSU should return the money to the BWC to help replace the millions the bureau apparently has lost, regardless of the outcome of the criminal proceedings against Tom Noe. BGSU should be a good public citizen and return the money.

I emailed counsel Trimboli on March 10 to ask if the BGSU Foundation had returned the Noe contributions or planned to do so in the future. As of March 20, I had no response.

Regardless of how the July 24 and Aug. 29 trials of Tom Noe turn out, BGSU’s reputation appears to have been damaged by association. President Sidney Ribeau should end all ties between the university and the Noes and remove all references to them in BGSU materials. The reputation of BGSU and the esteem that thousands hold for it are too important. (OVER.)

See www.liberalbg.org for the list of contributions by either or both Noes to the BGSU Foundation:


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