Monday, August 8, 2005

Division of Authority in Ohio GOP Fundraiser Investigation

The brouhaha triggered by the revelation that prominent Ohio Republican fundraiser Tom Noe may have defrauded the Bureau of Workers' Compensation through non-existent investments in rare coins has resulted in an interesting division of authority over the investigation among federal and state prosecutors.  A press release (here) issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio describes the agreement among the different offices on how to proceed in the wide-ranging investigation of Noe's various activities:

Prosecutors Julia Bates of Lucas County and Ron O'Brien of Franklin County, together with United States Attorneys Greg Lockhart and Greg White today announced a partial division of prosecutorial responsibilities in the investigation of Thomas Noe and the larger investment issues involving the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. The following was agreed upon at a meeting in the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office on July 7, 2005.

First, the Thomas Noe investigation regarding the investment of Bureau of Workers' Compensation funds in rare coins will be supervised jointly by Julia Bates and Ron O'Brien through a Special Grand Jury convened in Lucas County.

The investigation of the remaining issues associated with the Bureau of Workers Compensation investment portfolio, to include the Emerging Managers Program will be supervised jointly through the offices of the United States Attorneys for both the Southern and Northern Districts. A Grand Jury will be seated in Cleveland to begin that process.

Mr. O'Brien will supervise all state ethics investigations in conjunction with the Columbus City Attorney, Richard A. Pfeiffer.

Finally, the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's office in the Northern District of Ohio will jointly supervise the investigation into the Noe contributions to the Bush/Chaney 2004 Campaign. The Federal Grand Jury seated in Toledo will continue to consider matters related to this investigation.

It is rare that prosecutors make a public statement on the scope of an ongoing investigation, and the specific focus of the inquiry.  The state investigation has already triggered one guilty plea to a misdemeanor ethics violation by the former chief of staff for Gov. Taft, and the various prosecutors will likely bring more charges.  Noe served as the Ohio chairman for the Bush/Cheney 2004 Campaign and was a "Pioneer", which means he helped raise over $100,000 for the presidential election campaign.  Fundraising investigations have a way of tainting a number of public officials who receive funds from contributors under suspicion.  (ph)

Corruption, Grand Jury, Investigations | Permalink

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