The Ohio Rare Coin Scandal
The director of Ohio's workers' compensation bureau resigned under pressure Friday over the disappearance of at least $10 million worth of rare coins that the agency had bought as an investment.My understanding is this:
In a statement, Conrad said he would leave office next Friday because the furor was interfering with the agency's job of helping employers and injured workers.
''The last thing I want to do is distract from the outstanding progress we have made together over the years,'' he said.
Ohio's workers' compensation bureau began buying and selling rare coins in the late 1990s as a way to hedge its investments in stocks and bonds. Coin dealers said they know of no other state that puts it money in rare coins or other collectibles, and warned that such investments can be risky.
The Ohio Worker's Compensation Bureau invested $50 million in rare-coin funds. Tom Noe, the fund manager, was a Bush Pioneer. *Cough* Conflict of interest *Cough*. Noe is being investigated by the US Attorney for 2004 federal election issues.
Then it turns out 121 of the coins were missing from the fund.
Then it turns out the Governor's Chief of Staff got a huge discount as a guest at Noe's Florida vacation home.
Then it turns out 5 (of 7) justices of the Ohio Supreme Court had to recuse themselves from ruling in the case because they had received large campaign contributions from Mr. Noe.
Now Mr. Noe has allegedly misappropriated $10-12 million of that for personal use. That personal use may or may not have included campaign contributions to President Bush and other Ohio Republicans.
AMERICABlog has a good summary of the issue here.
Ohio is completely controlled by Republicans. Gov. Taft is resigning, leaving an open race for Governor. Senator Mike DeWine was one of the Group-of-14 blocking the nuclear option and there are rumors of a John Kasich primary challenge. I sense a bit of an opening for Democrats in this GOP stronghold.