Tuesday, May 17, 2005

 

Coins are lousy investment - Part IV: "Profits" lowered

The Toledo Blade crew continues to run circles around the rest of the Statehouse reporters on the Thomas Noe affair. Drew and Wilkinson's latest story shows several interesting developments around the cash flow and investment returns of the fund, as well as the fascinating game of "chicken" being played around the various investigations and audits that are underway.

First, on the returns:
Now, we come to the investigations. In many ways, the coins story is really just a stage decoration to the larger, inside story about Republican finances, campaign donations and favor swapping. It's a story about how business careers and political careers conveniently keep crossing paths and serve each other. It's also an interesting story about how horribly incestuous and inbred the legal, political, investigative, and administrative circles are that are at the core Ohio's government and business community.

Yesterday's "big" announcement was that Betty Montgomery has called for a "special audit" of the coin fund. By our count, this means that there are at least four investigations going on simultaneously related to Noe: Montgomery's, Petro's, Tom Charles, and the FBI.

Since she is the state's auditor, Montgomery's announcement was not unexpected. What's been unexpected is that it would take a month and a half to make the decision, and that she would allow Petro to beat her to the punch. You can be sure Blackwell's and Petro's campaign staff took note.

But there is no way Petro, Montgomery or Charles are enthusiastic about their investigations because it means investigating their friends, allies and contributors. This isn't an into a few bad apples. This is - if any of them choose to be thorough - is an investigation into the core of the Republican party.

Petro and Montgomery, in particular, are in an enormously difficult situation since they are both running for governor. And, they are in difficult situation since the FBI is also waist deep in the muck. Neither can afford to be aggressive - but neither can afford NOT to be aggressive or it will turn into a campaign issue. Each has to anticipate the other's move and guess to what extent they are willing to go after fellow Republican politicians and deal makers.

In a similar vein, it's fascinating - and revealing - to see just how connected Republicans keeping turning up in this case. For example:
Not surprisingly, all this suggest that the Republicans are more interested in pretending to investigate rather than letting the chips fall.

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