Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

Taft's RICO problem, and we don't mean Puerto Rico . . .

A wee news item in today's Dispatch reminded us of another enormous scandal hanging over the Ohio GOP's head.

Last year, Cuyahoga County Commission Tim Hagan and a regional group of the American Friends Service Committee filed suit against the Ohio Republican Party alleging that Taft, his staff and members of the legislature traded BILLIONS of dollars of non-bid state contracts in exchange for campaign contributions.

From ONN (link may not work - try a Google cache):
The lawsuit said Ohio taxpayers, voters and candidates have been harmed by the alleged practice.

The lawsuit asked for restitution for any illegal political contributions made in violation of Ohio's competitive-bidding laws and sought the appointment of a monitor to oversee compliance.

"It is not about `pay to play' politics," the lawsuit said. "Rather, it is about forthright `pay to profit.'"

[. . . ]

In all, 22 Republican officials and organizations were named in the suit.

Under the alleged scheme, part of the proceeds from inflated unbid contracts are "kicked back" as political contributions to elected officials, the lawsuit said.
Last August, the Ohio GOP could get away with dismissing the lawsuit as "frivolous" and the public (and to a large extent, the courts) would have believed it.

But that was then, this is now, and now every corner of the state is familiar with the stench of Republican corruption. And even the insiders are starting to get their sphincters in a knot about this case.

Joe Hallett's story serves to remind us of the seriousness of Hagan's allegations and also to point out that Ohio Chief Justice Tom Moyer has inexplicably delayed making a decision about whether the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court will retain jurisdiction:
On May 27, Taft and other defendants asked Moyer to disqualify the entire Cuyahoga County court from hearing the case because the judges’ budgets are, in part, controlled by Hagan and the other two county commissioners.

On June 7, Richard J. McMonagle, a Republican and the presiding judge of the Cuyahoga County court, urged Moyer, also a Republican, to let his court keep the case, rather than transfer it to Franklin County.

"It would seem to me that the defendants would like this matter heard in Franklin County, which is more strongly a Republican area than in Cuyahoga County, which is a strongly Democratic area," McMonagle wrote. "I do not think any of the judges on this bench will be tainted because of their political persuasion. I believe it would be a mistake to change jurisdiction and, therefore, indicate that indeed there is a political persuasion here."
Is there a defense attorney in Ohio that isn't on retainer to a GOP client?

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