Sunday, May 01, 2005


Noe: Do roads lead to Householder, or from him?

Reporters are falling over each other to cover the shenanigans of ace fundraiser/bumbling coin investment manager Thomas Noe. There is no point to repeating the facts since there is such broad coverage of the story except to note that there are two parts to this story: the coin "investments" and the allegedly "illegal" campaign contributions.

We will, however, offer some observations:
  1. The coin investment debacle may be a major blow to the career of BWC Director James Conrad. Say what you want about Conrad - he has been one of the most competent, if not the most competent agency director in the last 16 years, and one of the few top bureaucrats that has any managerial skills. He has solid organization technique, he thinks strategically and he has great PR intuition. Investment management, however, was never his strong suit and BWC has gotten involved in a lot of squirrelly investment ventures. We know that on occasion, Bob Taft and other high levels politicians would try to twist the arms of OPERS and the other public worker pension funds to get them to sink money into what were clearly politically driven investments. Invariably, Taft would always mention that BWC has already signed on, as if that endorsement meant something. Wisely, the pension funds always told the governor - in so many words - to cram it. Coin investment is highly stupid and highly risky, if for no other reason than coins are not "liquid" in the financial sense. Someone may estimate their worth at $XX amount on paper, but their is no guaranteed, regulated and transparent market of buyers.

  2. Noe is a coin dealer. What gave him the qualifications to manage a $50 million fund? And, what qualifications does he have to serve on the Ohio Board of Regents and be its one-time chair? And, what qualifications does he have to serve as chair of the Ohio Turnpike Commission. Answer: Well, uh, none! Don't Ohioans deserve better than that?

  3. Noe is alleged to have made possibly illegal campaign contributions. That's an obtuse way of saying this: the FBI thinks Noe funneled money through others in order to circumvent donation limits. For example, if Noe was maxed-out at $2,000 on a candidate, he could just give another $2,000 to a pal or relative or an employee and ask them to make the donation in their name instead of his. Shit - if that law could suddenly be enforced, half the Republican party would be heading for the slammer. Well, this could get interesting . . .

  4. But, that kind of donation laundering is a little hard to detect and it's politically tricky. The FBI doesn't just throw a dart at the map and decide to investigate whatever political district it lands on. They operate on tips and leads, and they get small fish to turn on big fish. When you add in that federal investigators have been working out of offices in the Huntington Building in Columbus for several months on the "Householder" investigation, we have to figure the two are connected. Either the investigators accidentally turned up information about Noe while working on the Household case, or one of the principals in the Householder case has cut a deal and is singing about even bigger Republican fundraising problems.

  5. Why don't reporters come clean about some of the things they write? Both the Blade and the Dispatch refer to Noe's contributions to two national political action committees: CARE PAC and 17 Star PAC. They don't say it so we will: CARE PAC is Congressman Ralph Regula's $1.7 million PAC. The 17 Star PAC is Mike DeWine's $.22 million PAC.

  6. And consider poor Mrs. Noe! Bernadette, as she is known to her friends, just has all the worst luck finding someone to build the set for what would have been her new TV show. That kind of bad luck just couldn't be made up.


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