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savafan
08-17-2005, 04:59 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050817/ap_on_re_us/governor_golf



By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press Writer 18 minutes ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Bob Taft will face misdemeanor charges for not reporting golf outings paid for by others, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Taft, a second-term Republican and member of a distinguished U.S. political family, would be the first Ohio governor to be charged with a crime. If convicted of the four misdemeanors, he could be fined $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail on each count, though time behind bars was considered unlikely.

Taft will be charged later Wednesday, said City Prosecutor Stephen McIntosh, who declined to comment further pending an afternoon news conference.

The governor will respond publicly on Thursday and is not planning to resign, spokesman Mark Rickel said.

Investigators have looked for weeks at Taft's alleged violation of a law requiring officeholders to report gifts worth more than $75 unless the donor is reimbursed. He had announced the problems involving reporting of golf outings in June but said any errors were inadvertent.

The allegations about Taft, 63, grew out of a scandal that began with revelations of problems with an unusual state investment in rare coins.

The investment was handled by coin dealer Tom Noe, a top GOP donor. Noe has acknowledged that up to $13 million is missing from the fund, and Attorney General Jim Petro has accused him of stealing as much as $4 million.

Taft released records Aug. 5 showing he accepted invitations to 21 golf outings since 1999. They included a 2001 outing with Noe.

The records released earlier this month did not indicate who paid for the outings. Taft's golf partners included
John Snow, then the head of transportation company CSX Corp. and now the U.S. Treasury secretary; and Tony Alexander, president and chief executive of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

Some partners have said Taft paid for the golf; others have said they picked up the tab.

In a speech given in May, the governor had stressed the importance of ethical behavior for public employees.

"Public employees can enjoy entertainment, such as golf or dining out, with persons working for a regulated company, or one doing business with the state, ONLY if they fully pay their own way," he said in the speech at Xavier University.

Taft's former chief of staff Brian Hicks pleaded no contest last month to failing to report stays at Noe's million-dollar Florida home. He was found guilty and fined $1,000 after entering the plea.

The charges against Taft are another blow to the GOP in the Republican-controlled state that won
President Bush re-election. Democrats have found hope for the next election in the investment scandal and surprisingly close race this month for an open seat in southwest Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, a GOP stronghold that the Republican candidate only barely managed to win.

Taft's great-grandfather was President William Howard Taft who later was chief justice and both his father and grandfather were U.S. senators from Ohio.

Other Ohio governors have come under investigation, including Republican George Voinovich, investigated for unproven allegations he laundered campaign money, and Democrat Richard Celeste, whose connections to a contributor who owned the failed Home State Savings Bank were examined.

Unassisted
08-17-2005, 05:26 PM
I imagine Taft prefers seeing this peccadillo on the front page of Ohio newspapers instead of the coin scandal. This one can be explained away as an innocent paperwork mistake. The other reeks mightily of mismanagement and cronyism on his watch.

Right now, there probably isn't a politician in the country who is happier about being term-limited than Ohio's Guv.

RedsBaron
08-17-2005, 06:41 PM
Right now, there probably isn't a politician in the country who is happier about being term-limited than Ohio's Guv.
Term limits may not matter. From what I've read, Taft is just about the most unpopular politician in the country and couldn't be elected or re-elected to anything.

alex trevino
08-17-2005, 06:57 PM
First of all, I have never voted for Bob Taft in my life. I can not conceive of ever voting for the man. I think he is incompetent, poltically inept and overall just not very bright. He is probably the worst Gov. ever to serve in Ohio. Despite all of his faults, I don't believe the man is a crook. The Prosecutor should should focus on all those around him who apparently are.

Taft reminds me a great deal of President Grant...a decent enough man who surrounded himself with low life characters.

registerthis
08-17-2005, 06:59 PM
Term limits may not matter. From what I've read, Taft is just about the most unpopular politician in the country and couldn't be elected or re-elected to anything.The daily scandals his administration is embroiled in is ever-expanding. of course there's the Noe scandal, and the ethics charges...and in addition, it turns out now that Taft was lobbying hard behind the scenes a couple of years ago with the state education board in favor of the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. He put the squeeze on the liberal members, and they have e-mails to prove it, even though he has publicly denied any pressure on the matter. There are copies of memos/e-mails between Taft and his staff about how the Christian Right was pushing him to do this.

On the political front, I'm glad I don't live there anymore, although this could certainly have significant impact--positively, from the Dem's perspective--on the next election.

RedsBaron
08-17-2005, 07:09 PM
First of all, I have never voted for Bob Taft in my life. I can not conceive of ever voting for the man. I think he is incompetent, poltically inept and overall just not very bright. He is probably the worst Gov. ever to serve in Ohio. Despite all of his faults, I don't believe the man is a crook. The Prosecutor should should focus on all those around him who apparently are.

Taft reminds me a great deal of President Grant...a decent enough man who surrounded himself with low life characters.
You may be right as far as a comparsion of their decency, but U.S. Grant was a very bright man and a great general-he just wasn't cut out to be President.

SunDeck
08-17-2005, 07:22 PM
Taft reminds me a great deal of President Grant...a decent enough man who surrounded himself with low life characters.

Harding?

George Foster
08-18-2005, 12:42 AM
I am ashamed to call Taft a fellow Republican...he's a joke!

Unassisted
08-18-2005, 10:32 AM
I've read about the Governor some, but don't follow Ohio politics closely. What are the chances that backlash from Taft's foibles leads Ohio to elect a Democratic Governor next year? He's definitely digging a hole for his party to climb out of.

savafan
08-18-2005, 01:45 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/governor_charged;_ylt=AtDahJpxrnmjEllDO7woO1QDW7oF ;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl



By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Bob Taft became the first Ohio governor found guilty of a crime Thursday as he pleaded no contest to charges that he broke state ethics law by failing to report golf outings and other gifts.

Taft told Franklin County Municipal Judge Mark Froehlich he chose not to plead guilty but was taking responsibility for ethics lapses.

The judge found him guilty and fined him the maximum $1,000 for each of four misdemeanor counts. As expected, no jail time was ordered; the charges had carried a maximum of six months on each count.

Taft, a great-grandson of President and later Chief Justice William Howard Taft, nodded as the charges were read, and his wife, Hope, sat behind him showing no emotion.

"The message is simply clear: no one is above the law in the state of Ohio, and even the governor can be charged and convicted of a criminal offense," the judge told Taft.

The second-term Republican said that as governor he expected all state workers to follow state ethics laws.

"In this instance I have failed to live up to those high expectations," he said. "I accept full responsibility for this mistake and I am very sorry."

The judge also ordered him to apologize: "From the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River, I want them to know that you are sorry for what you have done."

Taft's voice cracked as he spoke later at a news conference.

"There are no words to express the deep remorse that I feel over the embarrassment that I have caused for my administration and the people of the state of Ohio," Taft said.

The governor has fired others over ethics violations, but he said he would not resign, saying he still can be an effective governor in the 16 months left in his term.

A state task force and the Ohio Ethics Commission are investigating public employees for similar offenses and Prosecutor Ron O'Brien has said he expects more serious felony charges to be brought, although not against Taft.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but means the defendant will not fight the charges. The judge's action finding him guilty is a routine step in Ohio in no-contest pleas.

Defense attorney William Meeks said Taft has repaid people for the gifts.

Taft was charged Wednesday with failing to report 52 gifts worth nearly $6,000, including dinners, golf games and professional hockey tickets over four years.

O'Brien said the gifts included two golf outings worth $100 each paid for by coin dealer Tom Noe, a Republican fundraiser whose $50 million investment of state money in rare coins launched the scandal that led to the accusations against Taft.

State law requires officeholders to report all gifts worth more than $75 if the donor wasn't reimbursed.

Taft said the golf outings were mostly weekend events with friends. He said his office had no system to record such gifts, so they were not included on annual disclosure forms, and he did not learn until this summer that the Ethics Commission requires those events to be reported if paid for by others.

Taft said when he became aware of the errors, he notified the commission and cooperated fully with its investigation.

The alleged ethics violations against Taft are another blow to the GOP in the Republican-controlled state that won
President Bush re-election. Democrats have found hope for the 2006 midterm elections in the investment scandal and a surprisingly close congressional race this month for an open seat in a GOP stronghold.

"It is clear that Bob Taft and his friends throughout state government are so caught up in this scandal that they are no longer paying attention the very real challenges facing Ohioans," said Chris Redfern, the top Democrat in the House.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006, said the charges are part of a "culture of corruption" in Ohio.

Taft's golf partners included
John Snow, then the head of transportation company CSX Corp. and now the U.S. Treasury secretary; and Tony Alexander, president and chief executive of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

Some partners have said Taft paid for the golf; others have said they picked up the tab.

Taft's former chief of staff Brian Hicks pleaded no contest last month to failing to report stays at Noe's million-dollar Florida home. He was fined $1,000.

Noe has acknowledged that up to $13 million is missing from the rare coins fund, and Attorney General Jim Petro has accused him of stealing as much as $4 million.

Taft was elected in 1998, following the most expensive campaign in state history. He also had been secretary of state, a state representative and a county commissioner in his hometown of Cincinnati.

Taft's distinguished political relatives also includes his father and grandfather, who were both U.S. senators from Ohio.

LoganBuck
08-18-2005, 02:01 PM
I've read about the Governor some, but don't follow Ohio politics closely. What are the chances that backlash from Taft's foibles leads Ohio to elect a Democratic Governor next year? He's definitely digging a hole for his party to climb out of.

I don't think much. Taft is consistently tabbed as the worst or second worst governor in the country. The only reason he was reelected is because the Dems, put absolutely no effort into the Ohio Governors race at all.

The Dems have to come up with a decent candidate first. Michael Coleman just won't cut it. I think that that Blackwell will be the republican candidate, and he has done a good job over the past few years, of distancing himself, and directly opposing Taft, at times.