As a poster on Salon’s website mentioned, Manjoo totally avoided the subject of Coingate. Wonder why? Something to do with exposing major Republicans in Ohio as criminals who abused their power in order to get Bush reelected? What’s really odd is that Salon has previously covered the issue in depth.

Before the 2004 presidential election, northwest Ohio was one of the most hotly contested regions in the most hotly contested of states. At that time, Republican insider, fundraiser and Bush “Pioneer” Tom Noe presided over George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in Lucas County, which encompasses the city of Toledo. Noe, a Toledo coin dealer — and former chair of the Lucas County Republican Party — now presides over a Byzantine political scandal involving fraud with state money, political cronyism, alleged kickbacks and a federal investigation of illegal contributions to George W. Bush.

The “Coingate” scandal erupted when the Toledo Blade began reporting on Noe’s contracts with the state to invest a total of $50 million in coin speculation — apparently the only public investment fund of its kind in the country. Noe got the money, ostensibly, as an investment for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, whose chief executive, James Conrad, recently resigned over the affair. In 1998, when Sen. George Voinovich was governor, Noe set up Capital Coin Fund to buy and sell coins on behalf of the state, with 80 percent of the profits supposedly going back to Ohio. Noe was given $25 million for the fund, and in 2001, he launched Capital Coin Fund II with another $25 million from the bureau.

The problem with Capital Coin, as detailed in the Blade’s ongoing investigation, is that it operated with little to no oversight from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or any other state agency. After weeks of media pressure and public records lawsuits, Noe’s attorneys recently admitted that Capital Coin cannot account for $10 million to $12 million — and this after Noe’s repeated insistence that the funds were turning a handsome profit for the state.

It turns out Noe used the funds to invest in several subsidiary coin companies, one of which was run by Mark Chrans, previously convicted of laundering drug money through his own, separate coin business. (Capital Coin severed the relationship with Chrans as a result of $850,000 in bad debt Noe had to write off.) Also in the state’s portfolio were other collectibles such as artwork, sports cards and autographs. When an auditor for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation flagged the coin deal in 2000 and cited the lack of oversight, he was ignored, the Blade reported.

This is just an example of the corruption we know about. How will we find out about the corruption we don’t know about unless we investigate further into election improprieties?


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