Thursday, June 23, 2005

 

Did Bob Bennett drop a hint last week on Taft?

We keep wondering what's going through GOP chairman Bob Bennett's head as he sits in his new Lake Erie abode with the garish and gaudy OSU logo on it (hey - we support OSU and several of us have the little decals on our car, but we don't put something on our front door that's so goddam big and ugly that it pisses off the entire neighborhood!).

What does Bennett know? When did he know it. What is he doing about it?

In regard to the last question, we wonder whether he is just sitting back, letting the chips fall, or is he exercising some influence over how the whole Taft-Snow-Noe-Conrad-Coingate-Hicks-Householder-Deters-Blackwell thingy is unfolding?

One thing that is interesting - in retrospect - is a speech Bennett delivered some time last week to a group of GOPs (do they call it a club, cabal, ring?) and reported on June 16 by the Wheeling Intelligencer:
ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett told Belmont County Republicans there are problems ahead for the state GOP in 2006 at a fund-raiser this week at Undo's West in St. Clairsville.

His words came amid allegations of financial and ethical wrongdoing by some Republican officeholders in Ohio just as the 2006 race for governor begins - and as 2008 presidential campaigns start to take shape.

"There are a few people in our party who have abused their trust," Bennett said, making reference to a scandal in which Republican office holders invested state money in rare coins.

As much as $10 million in coins owned by the state are now missing.

"There could be more bad news about Republicans still to come," he added.

"The word around Columbus is that some indictments could be forthcoming, and that's the way it should be.

"We have to get these officeholders off the playing field if they're guilty, prosecute them and put them in jail."

The Ohio GOP problems don't end with "Coingate," he continued. Bennett didn't mention names, but next spoke of legislators with alleged close ties to lobbyists.

"Sometimes lawmakers get elected, and after a time they begin to think themselves invincible," he said. "A lobbyist buys them a $125 bottle of wine, and they think nobody will ever find out about it. Eventually, it all catches up with them.

"This has resulted in some ethics problems (among Ohio's Republican officeholders), and there needs to be some internal investigations." [emphasis added]
Shizzam! as Gomer Pyle used to exclaim. We, like the reporter, at the time thought this might be a reference to Bobby Ney, BFE Ohio's golden boy. We been salivating over that thought for several days.

But, based on what's unfolded this week, Bennett was certainly talking about Taft (and others in Columbus). For one thing, the timing is right. The news reports about Taft's recent financial reporting lapses indicated that he sent a letter to the Ethics Commission around June 14. It is unthinkable that Taft would have even started preparing a letter to the commission without giving Bennett and other key operators in the party a "heads-up" about what was to be forthcoming. Thus, Bennett was aware of Taft's plans just before the Belmont County meeting occurred.

So, now another interesting thing is whether Bennett wants Taft to "be taken off the playing field," not to mention see him "prosecuted and put in jail." Bennett has been vocal publicly and privately that Taft is not resigning. But, it appears that no one is trying to ask how the speech in St. Clairsville applies to the Governor and others who will be named later.

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