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Noe: Guilty of Laundering Bush Money in OH

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According to the WaPo, former Northwestern Ohio GOP power broker Tom Noe pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges of illegally funnelling money into the Bush re-election campaign.

Tom Noe, who also raised money for Ohio Republicans, also is charged with embezzlement in an ill-fated $50 million coin investment that he managed for the state workers’ compensation fund.

The investment scandal has been a major embarrassment for Ohio’s ruling Republicans and has given Democrats a better shot at winning state offices this year, including the governor’s office, which has been under GOP control since 1991.

Investigators do not know whether Noe used money from the coin fund for campaign donations.

Noe was charged with exceeding federal campaign contribution limits, using others to make the contributions and causing the Bush campaign to submit a false campaign-finance statement.

He said that he pleaded guilty to "spare my family and many dear friends" the ordeal of a trial.

Noe, 51, has been free on bond since he was indicted in October, and he is living in Florida. Prosecutors planned to recommend a sentence of two to 2 1/2 years. The maximum sentence would be five years on each of three counts and a combined $950,000 in fines. A sentencing date was not set.

In the other case, Noe has pleaded not guilty to stealing at least $1 million from the coin investment. A trial is scheduled for Aug. 29. (emphasis mine)

The part where Noe says he was pleading to spare his family the trial — that’s called lack of acceptance of responsibility for one’s crimes. No matter that Noe also said in court that he accepted responsibility — that sort of CYA public media statement is guaranteed to be the sort of quote that pisses off a federal judge if Noe has drawn a "tough on crime" type judge.  (And in Ohio, what are the odds…)  His defense counsel will be drilling the "I accept full responsibility" language into him, no doubt, throughout the entire pre-sentence investigation that will be done for the federal judge prior to any sentencing in the case.

Howie Klein has more:

Noe, a Republican Party County Chairman, had been Mr. GOP power broker in NW Ohio for many years. There isn’t an important Republican office holder in a state– where ALL the important office holders are Republicans– who isn’t beholden to Noe, from Governor Taft, Secretary of State Blackwell, ex-Governor/now Senator Voinovich, Attorney General Petro, State Auditor Montgomery, right up to 5 of the 7 Supreme Court judges. And in a state with virtual one-party rule (and with a Secretary of State who has been clearly shown to be a manipulator of vote counting), there were no checks and no balances. Even if you didn’t follow the Enron case too closely, you must be aware how many millions of dollars were lost (read: "STOLEN") from employees’ retirement funds (that is, from the voluntary private accounts the employees had). In this case, the Republican office holders– the ones with the legal fiduciary responsibility for protecting the money collected from taxpayers, the ones with no checks and no balances– decided to "invest" MILLIONS of dollars from the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bureau into a highly speculative fund, which buys and sells rare coins, run by the GOP Chairman of Lucas County, Thomas Noe. No other state invests public money in something this risky but the most charitable thing I’ve heard about this "strategy" is that its safer than taking the money to a riverboat gambling operation.

While Noe was funneling HUGE sums of money into the Bush/Cheney campaign and into the campaigns of Governor Taft, Secretary of State Blackwell, Senators Voinovich and DeWine, Attorney General Petro, State Auditor Montgomery, a gaggle of Republican congressmen and state legislators, and 5 of the 7 Ohio Supreme Court judges, as much as 20% of the investment was "lost" (again, read: "stolen"). We’re not talking about the values decreasing; we’re talking about the coins being PHYSICALLY lost ("stolen")….

State charges are still pending for Tom Noe at this point — no deal has been reached, as yet. If you live in Ohio, especially if you live in Lucas County where the state charges are pending or if you had an interest in the state wokers’ compensation fund, put some pressure on your local officials about this.  Letters to the editor for the local newspapers in Lucas County, as well as statewide papers, are something that local prosecutors pay attention to — especially around election time.  (I know, I used to work for one.  Trust me when I say that a squeaky wheel is a good thing in this sort of case — so be the squeaky wheel.  Please.) 

Also, call in to the local talk radio shows and discuss the fact that the public has been bilked to the tune of over $1 million dollars — and that Tom Noe’s corruption reached the highest levels of GOP politics in Ohio and in the Bush White House.

The Toledo Blade has been doing great coverage on this story, and has a lot more here.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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