[QUOTE][B][U]Ohio Governor Faces Misdemeanor Charges for Golf[/U][/B]
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Bob Taft (search), a stickler for the rules who pushed for high ethical standards in his office, will face four criminal misdemeanors for not reporting golf outings he didn't pay for, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Taft, a Republican and member of a distinguished U.S. political family, would be the first Ohio governor to be charged with a crime. If convicted, he could be fined $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail on each count, though time behind bars was considered unlikely.
Taft, who has said the lapses were accidental, will be charged later Wednesday, said City Prosecutor Stephen McIntosh, who declined further comment 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 all gifts worth more than $75 if the donor wasn't reimbursed for the amount of the gift.
Taft, 63 and nearing the end of his second term, would be the highest-ranking official to be charged in a ballooning state investment scandal that began with revelations of problems with an unusual investment in rare coins (search). His former chief of staff was convicted of an ethics violation in July.
The charges 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 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 a chief justice — and both his father and grandfather were U.S. senators from Ohio.
Though long anticipated, news of the charges was still a stunning conclusion to a process the governor began in June when he announced the omission.
Three months ago Taft stressed at an ethics conference 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 May 11 speech at Xavier University.
Other Ohio governors have come under investigation, including Republican George Voinovich (search), investigated for unproven allegations he laundered campaign money, and Democrat Richard Celeste (search), whose connections to a contributor who owned the failed Home State Savings Bank were examined.
Former Gov. Jim Rhodes (search) was a defendant in a civil trial seeking damages for the 1970 shooting of four Kent State University students, though Rhodes, also a Republican, was never charged.
Taft released records Aug. 5 showing he accepted invitations to 21 golf outings since 1999. They included a 2001 outing with embattled coin dealer Tom Noe, whose $50 million investment of state money in rare coins launched the scandal that led to Taft's disclosure.
Noe has contributed $22,190 to Taft's political campaigns, state records show.
The golf records did not indicate who paid for the outings, attended by several prominent Ohioans. Taft's golf partners included John Snow, then the head of transportation company CSX Corp. and now the U.S. Treasury secretary; Tony Gorant, chairman of Akron General Medical Center; 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.
Three former directors under Taft have resigned following accusations they were treated to golf outings by companies that did business with their agencies. A March 2001 Ohio Ethics Commission memo specified that golf rounds should be reported as gifts.
The charges against Taft would be all the more striking because of his reputation as an ethics cheerleader.
He made high ethical standards his hallmark from the moment he was sworn in just after midnight on Jan. 11, 1999, at the governor's residence in suburban Columbus. As the ceremony concluded he called his family legacy "a tradition of integrity" and "ethical conduct in office."
At his first Cabinet meeting, he hammered home the importance of ethics. Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director David Freel addressed department heads and senior staff members about what is and is not ethical behavior.
In October 1999, Taft ordered his top staffers and agency directors to take ethics training every two years.
In 2000, Taft weathered criticism over a fundraising letter he signed that promised meetings with himself and a briefing with congressional members in exchange for a $25,000 pledge. Taft said the letter was inconsistent with the ethical standards and tone he tried to set for the governor's office.[/QUOTE]
It seems so minor, but sometimes even a minor thing can become the difference maker. This state seems to be one that will be a VERY major battleground in 2008. Thoughts??
a crime is only criminal when a democrat commits it. If a Republican gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar either they have been set up by the left wing media or it is a communist conspiracy. Because let's be real this guy is a well-known church going christian, he couldn't possibly be guilty of any crimes! Especially accepting bribes!
Notice that the words Tom Delay never appear in this forum! that's cause he's innocent too!
Wait, let me guess CBTNY, this is all a creation of the criminal librul media and Taft really didn't do anything wrong.
The Ohio Republican Party is in horrid shape at the moment. The governor is a criminal, and Sen.Dewine has some of the worst approval ratings in the country and is up for re-election in 2006. Fortunately the Democrats will probably win the governorship in 2006 and prevent Ken Blackwell and his curious methods of counting votes away from that office.