Friday, July 22, 2005


Only in America does the fox guard the hen house

We were reminded by one of the staffers at the Hypothetically Speaking world headquarters that there's a very basic point made at yesterday's Reform Ohio Now news conference that's been totally ignored by the stenos in the Statehouse press corps.

It was made by OSU political science professor Richard Gunther: He pointed out that no democracy in the world allows the party in power to draw districts or to run elections!


Amendments backers reach milestone, Common Cause endorsement

At a news conference at the Statehouse yesterday, leaders of the Reform Ohio Now coalition announced that they had already gathered over 350,000 signatures for its set of three amendments to the Ohio constitution that would end much of the partisan election tinkering in the state.

The RON amendments need almost 330,000 valid signatures from registered voters, including enough signatures in at least 44 counties that they exceed 5% of the voters in the last gubernatorial election in each of those counties. Despite apparently having enough signatures, RON backers are making a smart move and vow to continue the signature drive thru the Aug. 10 deadline that it needs to meet in order to get the measures on the ballot.

RON organizers were joined at the news conference by significant new endorser. From the Gongwer News Service (subscription required):
“For us, it is truly about reforming the system and truly making certain every citizen’s voice counts,” said Chellie Pingree, the national president of Common Cause who joined supporters at the Statehouse event. She said the widening Statehouse scandals constitute an “increasingly devastating story in the state of Ohio on how not to run a Democracy.”
It also became apparent that RON opponents prime strategy is to attack those groups who initiated RON instead of the merits of the proposals.
Rep. Kevin DeWine (R-Fairborn), the sponsor of last year’s election law rewrite (HB1, Special Session, 125th General Assembly), cited the apparent out-of-state funding and makeup of the coalition in declaring, “This is not a good government initiative. It is pure partisan politics.”
But RON backers pointed out DeWine's own partisan antics with regard to election finance. Again from Gongwer:
Rep. Kevin DeWine (R-Fairborn), the sponsor of last year’s election law rewrite (HB1, Special Session, 125th General Assembly), cited the apparent out-of-state funding and makeup of the coalition in declaring, “This is not a good government initiative. It is pure partisan politics.”

[. . .]

Ned Wigglesworth, an analyst for Sacramento, California-based who also attended the news conference, said the Ohio GOP had taken the wrong step in hiking contribution limits through HB1.

“The question is: should wealthy interests be granted dominion over Ohio elections? The Ohio political class answered that question with a resounding ‘yes’ when they jacked contribution limits to a level only the very richest sliver of society can afford,” Mr. Wigglesworth said.

The Dispatch, PD (AP sourced), Dayton Daily, and Canton Repository have stories.


Ohio's Pink Panther

Sounds like Petro now has a nickname that's going to stick:
In a written statement, Gabrielle Williamson, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Democratic Party, criticized Petro for not filing the lawsuit sooner after problems with the fund surfaced. "Petro would have been the hero had he done his job . . ." Williamson said. "Instead Petro is trying to act like Inspector Clouseau covering up his tracks."


Blade also wonders why Petro doesn't connect dots on campaign contributions

Last night we questioned why in his proclamation that Tom Noe is a thief, Attorney General Jim Petro glossed over any mention of Noe using state money to make Republican campaign contributions.

The Drew Crew picks up on this issue:
The attorney general said the theft began on March 31, 1998, the day Mr. Noe received the first of two $25 million payments from the workers’ compensation bureau, and continued until late May — more than eight weeks after The Blade first reported on April 3 that there were problems with the state’s investment.

“On Day One, Tom Noe took $1.375 million and put it in his personal or his business account,” Mr. Petro said. Records show that Mr. Noe immediately began using the state’s money for his personal use, the attorney general said.

A week later, Mr. Noe and his wife, Bernadette, made $4,500 in contributions to then-Secretary of State Bob Taft’s campaign for governor.

In the three months after the $1.375 million transfer of state funds, Mr. Noe made thousands of dollars in political contributions, including an additional $2,500 to Mr. Taft, $2,000 to then-Gov. George Voinovich’s Senate campaign, and $500 to Mr. Petro’s campaign for re-election to the state auditor post he held before becoming attorney general.

When asked if he believed the state’s money had been used for campaign contributions, Mr. Petro said: “I don’t see that. I mean, clearly, Tom Noe personally contributed to campaigns and the source of his funds could very well be public money.”

But Mr. Petro connected the dots on Mr. Noe’s personal purchases, saying the Noes used “public money” to acquire millions of dollars worth of homes, cars, and boats.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Ohio Attorney General agrees Noe stole, but what about campaign monies?

In breaking news this evening, Jim Petro, Ohio Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor, for the first time officially accused coin merchant Tom Noe of stealing at least $4 million in state workers' comp investment money in what he described as a "Ponzi scheme" to hide the lost funds.

From the Toledo Blade website:
“Over the next several days leading into this week, we came to believe that there was an absolute theft of funds going on,” Mr. Petro said at a news conference today.
The Dispatch's website also covers this development:
Petro alleges that the investment never made money for the state and that Noe used the funds to pay off debts and perhaps to buy the expensive homes, boats and cars that he has been liquidating since charges arose.

"We're asserting those assets were purchased with stolen money," Petro said.
This is all well and good, but why has Petro conveniently forgotten to mention that Noe gave a lot of this money to various political campaigns, almost entirely Republican, and that this seven years-worth of donations also needs to be recovered.

We have no idea whether Ohio law actually allows for the recover of dispersed funds in cases like this, but Petro seems to us to be outrageously negligent in not using his bully pulpit to at least make the ethical and moral argument to the President and the members of his own party to return this money given that theft occurred as far back as March 31, 1998, when Noe first co-mingled BWC's and his personal funds:
Petro says, "On that day when the $25 million was first placed in Tom Noe's hands, $1.375 million was immediately transferred to a business account, thereafter business or personal obligations were being paid with those proceeds."
And, let's remember that with Noe, we are not talking about someone who felt constrained to stay within legal donation limits. As now seems apparent from grand jury proceedings in Lucas County, he used political friends, allies and business partners to launder "his" money to the Bush-Cheney 2004 effort and possible others.

In other words, Petro should be assuming that Noe's "Ranger" status (having raised at least $100,000 for Bush) was accomplished with BWC funds, and proceed accordingly

Regarding the timing of today's charges, many insiders in Columbus believe that Petro was forced to come out strongly against Noe after an article in the today's Blade documented Noe's efforts to shift funds around before state officials stepped in two months ago. Again from the Blade's website:
The announcement came the same day that The Blade reported that there was a flurry of activity in the coin funds in the weeks leading up to the state’s freezing of its assets on May 24, two days before Mr. Noe’s attorneys acknowledged that up to $13 million of the state’s money was missing.
While Petro's motivation may questioned, this new charge does help keep the Ohio GOP on the defensive and increases the pressure on Noe to cooperate with investigators who want to know who, if anyone, in Republican circles opened the investment opportunities for him and who coached him on the donation-laundering scheme.

[UPDATE:] As State Senator Marc Dann aptly points out, Petro's announcement comes waaaaaaaaaaay too late:
The time to take action for Petro was in 2000 when he was Ohio Auditor and the audit of the the Capital Coin Fund I (The first of 2 $25 million Dollar investments) showed serious problems with related party transactions.


Is DeLay jilting Ney for Schmidt?

Now that Bob Ney is persona non grata in some parts of Washington, is Tom DeLay trying to hedge his bets throwing his money behind Jean Schmidt?

OH02 Blog and DavidNYC at Kos have the salacious scoop, and info on the effort to get Schmidt to return the $10,000.


Hackett campaign breaking into the national news

Ohio's own District 02 congresssional candidate Paul Hackett will be a guest on Al Franken's Air America Radio show on Friday at approximately 12:30 pm (EST).

Hackett is also featured in a nice feature story in Newsday:
A few months ago, Paul Hackett was flushing out insurgents and avoiding ambushes in Fallujah, Ramadi and other hotspots in the Iraq War. Today, the Marine is trying to round up votes in small southern Ohio towns like this one.

[. . .]

Launching into a 15-hour day of campaigning, Hackett scoffed as he recalled someone telling him how hard the campaign life was: "I get to see my family at home every night; that's better than being in Iraq. The potshots I take .... are better than the potshots in Iraq."


Hope they pass the collection plate for Paul Hackett

The DLC invades Columbus. Clearly, they have fostered many cynics and one way for them to show their Democratic stripes is to give some love to the candidate in Ohio's second congressional district.


Schmidt: Where am I??

Brian has a good catch here. Somebody's head is not in her district . . .

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Taft releases reports but not memos or calendars

The Ohio News Network is reporting tonight that Bob Taft has done an about face regarding some of the internal materials that he had previously blocked thru his dubious claim of executive privilege:
Governor Taft has reversed course and agreed to release weekly reports from top officials at the embattled state insurance fund for injured workers. Taft says in a letter to Democratic Senator Marc Dann that releasing the reports from January 1999 through August of last year is in the public's interest. Taft spokesman Mark Rickel says Taft decided to release the documents because of new revelations about the Workers' Compensation Bureau's internal scrutiny of investments.
We'll wait to see that State Sen. Marc Dann's take on this development is, but it appears to us that releasing the weekly reports, while a partial and important victory, still leaves open the question of who knew what and when.

Dann, as we understand it, had also sought internal memos and emails of Taft and several other current and former members of his administration, plus calendars, schedules and phone logs.

The latter are important to pin down what - if any - steps Taft or his staffers took to either influence investments in Tom Noe's coin scheme, respond to the news of losses in the Noe and MDL funds, or suppress information related these developments as the scandals became public.

As we know from comments by James Conrad that were published recently, much of the discussion and planning around Noe and MDL occurred in private meetings and would not be reflected in the weekly reports. We assume that some of those discussions occurred precisely it would not appear in the weekly reports.

Besides the obvious information about when meetings of the inner circle occurred, the calendars and schedules are also important to identify what - if any - formal or informal contacts Taft or his staff had with Noe, his representatives, or others who had business with BWC investment staff.

[UPDATE] Dann, indeed, call's the release of the reports a victory.


Executive privilege fallacy

Statehouse veteran Tom Suddes in the Plain Dealer steps into the fight today with spiked shoes:
When it comes to Ohio's Open Records Act, Gov. Bob Taft wants to invoke "executive privilege." But on the planet where the rest of us live, that's just a seven-syllable synonym for "bogus."
Ouch. And he's right on the money with this:
Taft's defenders have suggested that the Bureau of Workers' Compensation mess isn't really his fault because the bureau didn't tell the governor about screwy state insurance fund investments, or, if it did, didn't tell him enough. But how's that for a beautifully Jesuitical argument? Taft wants to preserve executive privilege to promote "effective communication," yet even with executive privilege, there's already a problem with "effective communication." Translation: Heads, Taft wins; tails, Dann loses.
We suspect that's how the court will see the matter, too.


Ohio GOP chair embroiled in Federal bank favoritism accusations

Each week, it seems that the scandals in Ohio spread a little deeper and a little higher. This week, we find that Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, may now be up to his neck in his own ethics scandal.

The Toledo Blade today published a lengthy story by ace reporter Jim Drew on a decision last year by the board of the Cincinnati branch of a federal mortgage bank to hire a lobbying firm with close connections to Bennett - so close that Bennett also works as a paid consultant for a related firm. Bennett is chairman of the board of the bank:
Mr. Bennett was chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati in 2004 when the bank paid at least $80,000 to Whatman & Associates, a lobbying firm operated by former Ohio Republican Party executive director Tom Whatman, who retained Mr. Bennett at another firm he operates.

David Hehman, president of the Federal Home Loan Bank, said last week that Mr. Bennett recused himself from the vote on Mr. Whatman's hiring.
Did Bennett's recusal provide him the ethical protection he needed? How much trouble Bennett is in may depend whether Bennett really disclosed his connections to Whatman.
Melissa Dallas, a spokesman for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, yesterday provided The Blade with a copy of the federal regulation governing conflict-of-interest issues at the bank.

"A director shall disclose to the Bank's board of directors any personal financial interests he or she has ... in any matter to be considered by the Bank's board of directors ... A director shall refrain from considering or voting on any issue in which the director, any immediate family member, or any business associate has a financial interest," the federal regulation states.
But the Blade disputes whether Bennett disclosed his "personal financial interests":
The bank's president, Mr. Hehman, and one bank board member, however, said they were not aware of Mr. Bennett's financial relationship with Mr. Whatman before the lobbyist's firm was hired by the bank board.

Mr. Hehman said last week that he was unaware "of any business interest" between Mr. Bennett and Mr. Whatman.

Bank board vice chairman Carl Wick, a retired NCR Corp. executive who owns a Dayton area consulting firm, said he knew Mr. Whatman had worked for Mr. Bennett at the Ohio GOP, but he did not know that Mr. Bennett was being paid as a consultant for Mr. Whatman's other company, Strategic Public Partners.
The bank refused to release minutes of the board meetings where the Whatman contract was discussed nor would they say what other firms were in the running. Hehman also refused to comment on what role Bennett had in the decision:
"I won't answer that question," he said. "I don't think it is any of your business how our board acted."
Bennett has been chairman of the Ohio GOP for 17 years. He is credited to a large extent with the Republican's success in seizing control of all three branches of state government, but he is also increasingly being blamed for the excesses and scandals being linked to the state's "one-party rule."
Bill Woods, issue coordinator for the Common Cause Education Fund, said the hiring of Whatman & Associates by the bank should be investigated.

He said the $80,000 in fees paid to Mr. Whatman's firm - when Mr. Bennett was on the board of the bank and a consultant himself for Mr. Whatman - is a vivid example of "interlocking money and politics."

[. . .]

"It would seem to me that what you are looking at looks like a potential conflict of interest," the Common Cause official said. "One of the problems we see right now is this absolute power by the Republican Party. They have this arrogance of being able to do anything they want to do."
Rumors about Bennett's departure from his GOP position have circulated the state capital for weeks.


Dispatch confirms larger Taft problem

Back in late June when Taft first lawyered up as he disclosed his ethics lapses, the implication was that there were just a few golf outtings and other gifts that went unreported.

The amount of unreported outtings and gifts, however, that we heard was on the list was much, much larger. Back on June 21, we said:
Today, Gov. Bob Taft had a revelation. Shucks! Darn! He forgot to jot down about 4 or 5 golf outings on his annual financial disclosure statement. Well, maybe not 4 or 5 . . . maybe it was 40 or 50. Who knows cause ya' know, it's so hard to keep track of those kinds of things when get into that ol' golf game banter about money and coins and appointments and unbid contracts and fundraising.
We were alone in reporting this higher number, and took some heat for possibly exaggerating Taft's transgressions "before all the fact have come out."

But, today, the Dispatch ran a story (that was oddly buried) by Alan Johnson that confirms our information:
Gov. Bob Taft has filed documents with the Ohio Ethics Commission listing 50 to 60 golf outings and other events he previously failed to disclose, sources told The Dispatch.

[. . .]

Taft’s staff members, after telling The Dispatch they had no public records on the matter, referred questions to William Meeks. The Columbus criminal attorney was hired by the governor to handle what Taft referred to as "errors and omissions" on his annual financial-disclosure statements covering a number of years.

Meeks has not returned calls for the past several days.
That last part about Meeks not returning calls does not bode well for Taft's defense. If someone as experienced as Meeks is laying low rather than trying to counter-spin this stuff, that legal team must be very nervous.


BWC: A bunch of amateurs

Now the best they can say is that they only think it's a $14.3 billion dollar portfolio at BWC. From Steve Eder of the Drew Crew:
State Sen. Jay Hottinger (R., Newark), a nonvoting member on the committee, said it is "alarming and shocking" that the bureau does not have the records to compare the performance of its investments against benchmarks "with any degree of accuracy."

"The average investor probably has a greater level of sophistication and understanding of their rates of return and their investment objectives then what we do in managing billions of dollars," Mr. Hottinger said.
Actually, the focus is mainly on $400 million - $800 million in private investments, where most of the funny-money investments were to be found:
"Under normal circumstances, we do not have a concern about theft [with the private equities]," Mr. Ennis said. "In this particular instance, we have not yet had an opportunity to evaluate all of the scores of limited partnership investments and we are in the process of doing that now."
Ennis's statement probably tightened a few more sphincters around Capital Square. So did this one from the former chief investment officer at BWC:
"I feel like I’m being set up to take the fall for this," said [James] McLean, adding that he has not been consulted by Ennis Knupp or the management review team Gov. Bob Taft appointed for the bureau.

McLean, who joined the bureau in the summer of 2003, said he wanted to hire a third party to review investment performance and hire more staff members to add controls but was stymied.
We have no particular sympathy for McLean and can't yet verify if he was indeed "stymied." But, if there is more the public should know about how some of the problematic investments came about or if are other questionable deals out there, McLean would probably be the one to know, so really pissing him off may be a good thing for those that want to get to the bottom of these stories.

We're not sure if it makes any difference whether EK&A or the management review team have talked with McLean. They might not be the most interested parties. But, if we were an investigator or prosecutor, we might want to be getting McLean under oath about this "stymied" business.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Ohio GOP calls for criminal attorney "Marshall Plan"

The embattled Ohio Republican Party today announced that the shortage of available criminal defense attorneys in Ohio has grown so acute they are working to identify and fly in volunteer attorneys from out of state.
Speaking at a news conference, Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett outlined the impending disaster.

"We are surrounded and in a desperate situation," said Bennett. "When David Brennan hired Rocky Saxbe yesterday, he took the last remaining active attorney who practices criminal law in the state. We have now have hundreds of scared, defenseless lobbyists, donors and Administration officials who are facing interviews, depositions and indictments on their own. Oh, the humanity . . ."
The AP is reporting that after Bennett re-composed himself, he called for the formation of a Red State Pay-to-Play Barristers Brigade who would be parachuted in to rescue the besieged party, and he also announced that Operation Yellow Elephant pilots had volunteered to fly the risky mission.


47,813 (and counting) reasons Jean Schmidt's in trouble

Because when there is a real alternative like Paul Hackett, people respond. Thank you Swing Staters.


Another new Hackett commercial . . .

this time a joint project by Tim Tagaris ( and Kevin Kefgen.

Check it out and open those coin purses, peeps! Use the Hackett link-o-matic on the left.


The phony "precedent" argument about privilege

This fully exposes the fallacy of Taft's main justification:
Taft spokesman Mark Rickel has said the memos sought by Dann contain personnel information, legislative strategies or economic development prospects.

Rickel said their release could hamper the ability of future governors and their cabinet members and staff from communicating freely.

David A. Goldberger, an Ohio State University law professor, said that as long as the records are released voluntarily and not under court order, it should not set a bad precedent.

"The Ohio Public Records Act is much more inclusive and requires much more disclosure than federal disclosure statutes,'' he said.

"Is it really the internal operations of government that they're concerned about, or are they afraid to be embarrassed?'' asked Goldberger, who specializes in constitutional law, including the First Amendment.


Bennet also announced that O.J. would help in the search

From the Enquirer:
The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party insisted Monday that GOP state officials will find and punish those responsible for the political scandals engulfing Columbus - no matter where the investigations lead.

"Some people made bad decisions," Bob Bennett told more than 100 Hamilton County Republicans at a fund-raiser at the Sharonville Convention Center.

"We will ferret out the wrongdoers," he said.
He apologized, however, for the slow pace of the find-and-punish operations, noting that the ferrets are still on their summer vacation.


House Dems issue executive privilege recusal demand

We complained on Sunday about the fact that a bigger stink wasn't being made about the members of the Ohio Supreme Court who were not recusing themselves from hearing State Sen. Marc Dann's challenge of Taft's executive privilege defense of his withholding documents that may be key to answering who knew what and when.

As plaintiff and someone who will appear before the court, Dann would be in an awkward situation of asking for the recusal, himself.

Maybe our complaints were heard because the Blade reports that the Ohio House Democrats on Monday stepped forward to publicize the OSC's own potential ethics problem:
House Minority Leader Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) wrote in a letter yesterday to Chief Justice Moyer:

"It would seem that the public's respect for the judicial system could be threatened if judges who received campaign contributions from Governor Taft play a role deciding court cases concerning him."

Mr. Taft, his wife, and his gubernatorial campaign committee since 2002 have given $9,900 to Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton; $9,900 to Justice Maureen O'Connor; $2,500 to Chief Justice Moyer; $2,500 to Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, and $2,500 to Justice Terrence O'Donnell, Ohio campaign finance records show.

The same five justices recused themselves from hearing public records lawsuits filed by The Blade in May. They had received more than $23,000 in contributions from Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Constitution reforms and GOP threats

We've actually started out with a longer version of this post last week but decided it was too pedantic.

So, we'll leave out the background and cut to the chase. The Ohio GOP is going bonkers and getting nasty about the Reform Ohio Now campaign. You'll recall RON is really a group of three amendments to the Ohio Constitution that could drastically undercut the GOP's entrenched one party rule in Ohio by taking the politics out of elections and district reapportionment, and limiting campaign contributions.

Joe Hallett about a week ago documented some of the initial shitty vindictiveness about RON that is congered up by the likes of conservative meathead radicals like Ohio Senator Kevin Coughlin. That's bad enough.

But Coughlin antics end up looking like a child's tantrum compared to the threats and revenge we hear is now being dreamed up within Republican circles to deter the RON backers. We understand that some high-ranking Ohio GOP officials have resorted to not-very-veiled threats to the unions who helped initiate the RON effort, especially the public employee unions.

One particular high-ranking official - who happens to have a loud OSU logo on his front door - claims that RON has the attention of the White House and the entire Ohio Republican Congressional delegation. He is also trying to scare the Democrats in currently safe congressional districts and he brags that he will have all the money he needs to mount the anti-RON effort.

Back to the unions, this GOP official is threatening that a tidal wave of anti-union legislation will rise up if RON passes.

Had it not been for the series of pay-to-play Republican scandals in Ohio, these threats might be taken seriously. But in the context of what will likely be continuous bad news for the Republicans through the fall election when the RON amendments are on the ballot, we strongly believe these threats to be either a monumental bluff or a monumental miscalculation on the part of GOP chair Bob Bennett and others.

Bennett has to know that overt involvement by the Ohio Republicans in Congress will instantly be seen as self serving. And, if the White House wants to get involved - well, Bob, we think even you can figure out that right now that might not be such a good idea.

As a matter of fact, we think that Republican officials are so full of bullshit about putting up any kind of defense against RON, let alone a balls-out oppositional campaign, that we are willing to bet and offer 2-to-1 odds that Bennett, himself, ends up endorsing the RON amendments.

Again, we go back to the Dispatch's read on the current situation:
. . . the public will see only two sides in this deplorable episode: those who were on the side of the cleanup and those who were on the side of the cover-up.
Those sides are only get starker and clearer as we approach the first week of November. They can either accelerate the end of the their own domination - which will likely happen either way - by opposing RON, or they can try to start cutting their losses.


Another nice Hackett story

At least the DNC now acknowledges that Hackett exists. The party sent this article from the Middletown Journal-News out to their email list today.

We don't know what Dean and others have been doing behind the scenes, but this is the first communication we have received about Hackett from the party. Wish they had started this earlier.


Hackett ads in new formats

Yesterday we had a post about Paul Hackett now having a 30-second ad running.

Thanks to the folks at the Blog OH02, we now know that the Dem Bloggers have converted the ad to .wmv (Windows media) and .mov (Quicktime) formats, besides the .mp4 format.

And throw something in Hackett's ActBlue tip jar!


PD treats Hackett with respect

[Updated to fix PD link]
Today's Plain Dealer has a nice profile of Paul Hackett, emphasizing the veterans'/Iraq perspective he could bring to Congress.
Cleveland-born Hackett, who went to Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University's law school, is playing up his wartime duty. The 43-year-old also touts the fact that he's a gun buff and holds a state license to pack a concealed weapon. He has shown up at some campaign appearances aboard a high-chromed Harley-Davidson "Fat Boy" motorcycle.

It gets him some looks. About 80,000 of the district's 631,000 residents are veterans.

"He talks right for down here, which is a pretty conservative area," [a veteran and voter in Hackett's district] said.
Even if his campaign is a longshot, Hackett should be groomed as a candidate for other offices in the future. We know that strategic thinking has never been Denny White's strong suit, but Hackett is obviously such a good candidate that we cannot fathom why more state and national Democratic campaign money is not flowing into his campaign to at least give him some exposure and raise his profile in the region.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Hackett running ads in OH-2; time to give

Whether it's $5 or $50, it's time to get up off of that wallet and send some green and love to Paul Hackett's congressional campaign. You can see his new commercial here, and you can make your donation via the handy ActBlue box on the left.

If you sense that a change is coming in Ohio, it's time to help make it happen. Election day for the district is in two weeks.


Recusal refusal - why isn't more being made of this

The Dispatch's Joe Hallett's recap of the various scandals serves to remind the Ohio GOP that their problems are not going to go away soon and that the stench from the scandals has spread - not just across Ohio - but the nation.

But Hallett correctly centers in on one of the most important issues that is now on the front burner: Why the hell haven 't justices on the Supreme Court recused themselves from the executive privilege controversy like they have done with the Coingate lawsuit?
Five of the GOP justices recused themselves from a lawsuit involving Noe because they had accepted a combined $23,500 in campaign contributions from Noe and his wife.

Those same justices took more campaign money from Taft — a combined $27,500 since 2002 — but have not removed themselves from a lawsuit filed by state Sen. Marc Dann, a Youngstown-area Democrat, seeking to compel Taft to turn over memos between his office and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Chris Davey, spokesman for the Supreme Court, said justices "balance their responsibilities to hear cases against the possibility they could be perceived as biased" on a case-by-case basis. He noted that Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer long has advocated selecting judges by merit, rather than election, to eliminate questions about campaign contributions.
We'll buy a beer for anyone who can explain what the hell Davey's statement means in this context, i.e., no one has recused themselves yet.

However, regardless of the ethical considerations of the court, the momentum of these scandals suggest that everyone who doesn't come clean gets sucked into it. In otherwords, Moyer is no political fool and one would think the justices would be running to get out of the way of this trainwreck, especially when there are others who will clearly take the fall.

Speaking of the Dispatch, it's editorial today seems to underline the point we are trying to make about the Ohio Supreme Court, and also gets at the heart of the fork in the road facing the Ohio GOP:
Millions of Ohioans have a stake in what happened and want the truth. The issue no longer is whether the governor, other top officials and the Ohio Republican Party will suffer political damage. The question is whether they will compound the harm by standing in the way of a full airing of what happened.

The investigation of this, the most far-reaching political scandal in the state’s modern history, has the momentum of a freight train and is beyond the power of anyone, including the governor, to manage, contain or control. The facts are going to come out whether the governor wins this court case or not. The only question is when.

What the governor can control is how he is perceived as the investigation plays out. He can be seen putting the public interest before his own and that of his party, seeking to get at the truth and set things right. Or he can be seen as yet another politician whose stonewalling cements the suspicion that he is hiding something or protecting someone.

In the aftermath, the public will see only two sides in this deplorable episode: those who were on the side of the cleanup and those who were on the side of the cover-up.

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