Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 

Blade offers more on Noe golf story

On the heels of today's story in the Dispatch, the Drew Crew at the Blade weighed in late this morning with a story in which unnamed sources claim Noe and Taft were golfing in Toledo:
A source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, yesterday said that Tom Noe, a Toledo-area coin dealer at the heart of the state investment scandal, told him at Toledo’s Inverness Club in 2002 that he was playing golf there with Governor Taft.

The source, who had played golf in the morning, said Mr. Noe told him he would play golf with the governor that afternoon. The source told The Blade that he did not see Mr. Taft, but heard later there may have been other occasions when Ohio’s governor played the Inverness course with Mr. Noe.
Now, that is hardly a smoking gun, but we suspect there may be several other "eyewitnesses" to these outings that either have or will soon come forward.

But, the fact that Taft and Noe were on the links together is hardly news at this point. The fact is that Taft has already submitted a list of golf dates to the ethics commission.

What seems to be the outstanding questions about Taft, in particular is how often he golfed with Noe, when did this occur, what was discussed, and who else was present?
Mark Rickel, Mr. Taft’s press secretary, refused to confirm or deny that Mr. Taft had failed to list one or more golf outings involving Mr. Noe on his financial disclosure statements.

He also would not say how many golf outings Mr. Taft had failed to disclose since taking office in 1999.
Oh yeah, there is another question about the Governor: Who dropped the dime on Taft?

GOP chair Bob Bennett is Machiavellian enough to have done it, perhaps in an effort to cut losses and pin the blame on a guy who has to be the most unpopular politician in Ohio right now.

A more probable theory is that Noe, himself, is the source. As we predicted several weeks ago, Noe's going to sing loud and long.

Again, we assert that with Taft's admission to the golf outings, he has performed the equivalent of sticking his pecker into one of those "Chinese" handcuffs we used to play with when we were kids - once it's in ya' can't get out with out inflicting serious damage.

For example, it's clear that Taft can't "amend" his Ethics Statement. Politicians are given one chance to get it right:
There is no provision in state law for an “amended” ethics form.
Public officials can provide an “addendum,” which triggers an examination whether the person inadvertently failed to disclose information or there was a “knowing falsification.”

Mr. Taft’s statement yesterday said that at the advice of counsel, he “will refrain from comment until the Ethics Commission resolves this matter.”

“At the completion of the Commission inquiry, I will disclose all information that should have been included on my financial disclosure forms,” Mr. Taft wrote.
Given the numerous golf-related scandals among others in his Administration, Taft can't credibly claim to have misunderstood or not known about the need to report the golf trips.

From an overall perspective, the more important piece of this to us is that Taft - up until this point - had been trying to play coy about how close his relationship was with Noe. It's one thing to fail to report a few golf trips; it's another to fail to admit that you had been buddying up with one of the guys at the center of a scandal on a monthly basis and had accepted over $21,000 in direct contributions and used his services to round up an additional $100,000.

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