Saturday, June 4, 2005
Tom Noe, a Toledo (OH) rare coin dealer whose investments on behalf of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation have come under scrutiny because approximately $10-12 million worth of collectible coins are missing (see earlier post here), is now the subject of a federal grand jury investigation for possible campaign contribution violations. An AP story (here) discusses the grand jury appearance of a former aide to Noe who testified before the grand jury that he made a $2,000 contribution to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 and Noe reimbursed him, a clear violation of the campaign contribution laws; Noe was the northwest Ohio chair of the presidential campaign last year.
Once the hint of scandal hits a campaign contributor, politicians treat their donations as if they were radioactive, and usually can't get rid of them fast enough. At a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on June 2 (transcript here), the following Q-and-A took place:
Q Scott, there was a published report this morning that the President had decided to return $4,000 in campaign contributions he received from Tom Noe, the rare coin dealer in Ohio who is under investigation, but that he did not plan to return some $100,000 in other people's contributions that Mr. Noe had helped raise. Is that true, and why draw the distinction between them?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are some serious allegations that have been raised against this individual. They have raised concerns with people in Ohio, they have raised concerns with the White House. And the President felt it was the right thing to return those contributions that came directly from him.
Q But why not the additional contributions that Mr. Noe had raised?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, those are from other individuals, and in the past, I think the campaign, if you'll go back and look, has returned contributions from individuals that maybe have been convicted of crimes, and so forth. And this one is certainly a unique situation that raises some very serious allegations and we felt it was the right thing to do to return the contributions that he had made to the campaign.
The Republican National Committee plans to donate $2,000 to charity, the amount given by Noe, while a number of Ohio politicians also plan to give up funds (upwards of $60,000 donated by Noe. California Governor Arnold Schwazenegger received $10,000, but does not have any plans to return it or donate the funds to charity. Look for this one to get stickier in the coming weeks. (ph)