Wednesday, August 17, 2005

 

Gov. Taft to get 4 criminal charges

From the Dispatch website this afternoon.
Gov. Bob Taft is expected to be charged this afternoon in Franklin County Municipal Court with four criminal misdemeanors for failing to disclose golf outings and possibly other favors.

The charges are be outlined at a press conference this afternoon with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien and Columbus City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr.

If convicted on the first-degree misdemeanor charges, Taft faces a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail on each count.

Taft, 63, the great-grandson of William Howard Taft, the only American to serve as president and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, made history on his own: He is the first Ohio governor to face criminal charges while in office.

The charges were the outgrowth of a two-month investigation by a task force consisting of the Inspector General Thomas P. Charles, the Ohio Ethics Commission and the State Highway Patrol.

The commission last week referred the matter to prosecutors who discussed it this morning.

Taft and Meeks have said the errors and omissions were inadvertent.

While it is not expected, the criminal charges could lead to Taft's impeachment under the Ohio Constitution.

The Constitution says the governor, judges and any state officer can be impeached if they are charged with a misdemeanor, even if they are not convicted.

The Ohio House of Representatives has the sole power to initiate impeachment proceedings. A simple majority -- or 50 of 99 members -- would have to vote for impeachment.

The Ohio Senate would conduct the impeachment trial, with a two-thirds majority vote -- 22 of 33 members -- required for a conviction.

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