Saturday, May 28, 2005

 

Coingate memo, visits to Noe causes more erosion of Taft credibility

Without doing too much parsing of his words, it's clear that Taft has failed to come clean about what he knew about Tom Noe.

Taft has all along claimed that he first knew about the situation on April 3 when it was first reported by the Blade. But a story in today's Dispatch reveals the existence of a document that blows that story to smithereens:
But Taft’s recollection was called into question by the release of a memo that Conrad sent to him March 18 — 15 days before the first newspaper story. In the memo, Conrad warned that a story was likely "in the very near future," and he detailed Noe’s involvement and the performance of the rare-coin investments.

Asked yesterday whether he had read the memo, Taft said, "I don’t know what memo you’re referring to."

That answer prompted legislative Democrats, assembled outside the governor’s Statehouse office, to question Taft’s veracity and leadership.

"Either he’s incompetent or he’s a liar," said Sen. Marc Dann, a suburban Youngstown Democrat. "If he didn’t know, then he wasn’t doing his job, and we should be more concerned about that."

Jon Allison, Taft’s chief of staff, who was sent a copy of the memo, later said that Taft did not read the memo until the day the initial Blade story was published.

Allison and Taft’s staff decided that because the memo was not reporting anything wrong, it did not need to be given to Taft immediately, Allison said.
Actually, we suspect that Allison is the one who can first be put in the "incompetent or liar" category.

Look, anyone that has been around the top leaders of any enterprise, especially a political one like the governor's office, knows that when your most trusted manager takes the time to write a warning in a memo you, you sure as fuck better read it over more than once.

We haven't read the memo, but Conrad wouldn't have bothered to write it if it wasn't to warn Taft, Allison and the rest of his staff that a major shit-storm was coming down from the Blade.

If Allison read it and, indeed, kept it from Taft, then he should resign.

The truth is that none of the press corps is buying into the "we didn't read it" memo theory.

But this is somewhat of a tempest in a teapot development. It only makes a difference of 15 days. Certainly, that's more that enough to establish Taft as a liar, but not enough to really tie him directly to the Noe circle.

The Blade starts doing that for us. The Drew Crew's story today has more of Taft's verbal tap dancing related to what the governor's relationship was with Noe and what he knew about an investment deal with the State:
Mr. Taft denied yesterday that Mr. Noe had ever “informed me or to my knowledge, any member of my senior staff “ about his state contract with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Obviously, this statement falls far short of saying that he had no knowledge of, and that no one ever told him Noe had any business relationship with the state.

Further, the story indicates that Taft and Noe were closer that the governor would want Ohioans to believe:
In response to a question, Mr. Taft said he had visited Mr. Noe’s coin shop in Monclova Township, where authorities executed a search warrant Thursday.

The governor said he didn’t know how many times he had visited the coin shop and when asked why he went there, Mr. Taft replied: “Just a visit.” An aide to Mr. Taft said he didn’t have any dates of when Mr. Taft dropped by Vintage Coins & Collectibles.

Asked if he and his high-ranking staff members solicited Mr. Noe to raise campaign contributions for President Bush’s re-election and the Republican Governors Association, Mr. Taft replied: “I’m sure we did.”
The drumming hasn't started for Taft to leave office yet, but the drums are being rolled out. He cannot sustain more stories like this.

With record low approval ratings, this might be a way for Republicans to cut their losses. Maybe it's time for Bob Bennett to call in another White House chit and see if there still isn't some appointment or ambassadorship available.

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