Thursday, July 21, 2005



Even Republican Supreme Court judges in Ohio who were the beneficiaries of GOP Kingmaker Thomas Noe's looting of the State Workmen's Compensation Fund were shocked to hear Governor Taft's lame defense in one of a series of attempts to derail the investigation, this one by refusing to turn over transaction documents from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. On July 13 the heavily Republican Supreme Court found against Taft in a 5-2 decision, rejecting the state’s spurious argument that the records — which show the sellers, dates, and purchase prices of coins in the state’s inventory — are “trade secrets” exempt from the Ohio Public Records Act. One Republican who hadn't accepted Noe's tainted contributions, Paul Pfeifer, wrote “From the outset, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s ‘trade secret’ argument seemed more a delaying tactic than a legitimate legal issue.” (The Court is made up of the 2 Supreme Court judges who haven't been tainted by Noe's stolen money plus 4 Appeals Court judges who were appointed after Chief Justice Moyer and the 4 other judges who had received money from Noe removed themselves-- as they were bound to by Ohio law-- from sitting on any cases involving Noe.)

This augers poorly for another of Taft's delaying tactics. Claiming some kind of bogus "executive privilege" (a doctrine that harkens back to Nixon's attempts to cover up Watergate and which doesn't exist in Ohio law or practice), he has refused to turn over the weekly reports he was receiving from the Bureau going back half a dozen years to the beginning of Noe's scheme to loot the fund and use it to finance Republican politics in the state. Taft is also desperately trying to cover up his role in the sister scandal to Coingate, the loss of another $215 million dollar investment made through other favored Republican campaign contributors, MDL Capital Management in Pittsburgh, PA. Taft swears up and down, though no one in Ohio believes him, that he didn't find out about the $215 million dollar loss until last month (June). The rub here is that e-mails have been uncovered that prove conclusively that then-bureau Administrator Jim Conrad reported the losses in an Oct. 26 e-mail to Taft executive assistant Jim Samuel. This was just before the crucial 2004 presidential election which Taft and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, another crooked pol and villain in this mess, had promised to deliver to Bush. Taft has said that Samuel did not pass the information about the missing $215 million on to him, something that is patently absurd in a state flirting with bankruptcy. (It was around this time that Grover Norquist, someone even more right-wing than Taft or Blackwell, was famously quoted about Taft: "We have an idiot, stupid, corrupt, dumb rotten Republican Governor in that State... who has been busy looting the state, raising taxes, lying to the gun owners. Ohio is the only state in the nation that has lost jobs and isn't recovering because he's been beating the economy to death in the state... he should be taken out and horsewhipped.") The hero of this whole scandal, State Senator Marc Dann, has demanded that Taft turn over memos and records of this whole sordid affair. Taft, claiming "executive privilege" has given Samuel a slap on the wrist, a laughable demotion and a pay cut from $80,000 annually to $76,000 annually. Samuel said last month that he recalled briefing Mr. Taft's chief of staff, Jon Allison, but couldn't recall whether he told him that the entire $215 million had been lost. Perhaps he said only $210 million was lost and no one wanted to bother the Governor? Or maybe he said $1.97 was lost and it wasn't that big a deal even in Ohio?

Not unlike the crooks inside the Bush Regime who conspired with Enron and other looters, Taft claims that he won't give up the records because he wants to "protect communication between government officials" and their removal would "discourage future . . . candid advice" to governors. Most observers just think he won't turn them over because they will lead to long prison terms for him and most of the high-ranking Republicans in the state. Senator Dann, who has pointed out that Taft does not have "executive privilege," mentioned that the looting is a matter of political corruption, not a matter of national security. "Unless we anticipate an attack from Pennsylvania or Indiana, I don't expect that executive privilege will stand up," he explained to the press.


At 7:32 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

I'm accepting your assurances that this story is playing big in Ohio, because otherwise everything I hear about coindoggle is in this blog.

But thanks for keeping us "posted" on the ever-growing smorgasbord of Repulicrook scandals. It's a shame that the Democrooklets seem so badly positioned to take advantage of them. Still, the American people--and most everyone seems to have a Republicrook at least in his/her back yard--have to do some serious waking up eventually.

At least I THINK they do.


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