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Dramatic new charges deepen link between Ohio's "Coingate," Voinovich mob connections, and the theft of the 2004 election

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1387
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2005
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      --- Julie Keller <jakeller@...> wrote:

      > To: utepprogressives@yahoogroups.com
      > From: "Julie Keller" <jakeller@...>
      > Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 16:50:41 -0000
      > Subject: [utepprogressives] Valerie Plame?
      > Meanwhile, Back in Ohio ...
      >
      > Dramatic new charges deepen link between Ohio's
      > "Coingate," Voinovich
      > mob connections, and the theft of the 2004 election
      >
      > by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
      > July 29, 2005
      >
      > COLUMBUS -- New charges filed against Ohio Governor
      > Bob Taft's former
      > top aide have blazed a new trail between "Coingate"
      > and the GOP theft
      > of the 2004 presidential election.
      >
      > Brian Hicks appears in court today to answer charges
      > that he failed
      > to report vacation trips he took to Coingate
      > mastermind Tom Noe's
      > $1.3 million home in the Florida Keys. A top Taft
      > aide for a dozen
      > years, Hicks stayed at Noe's place in 2002 and 2003.
      > Another Taft
      > aide, Cherie Carroll, is charged with taking some
      > $500 in free
      > dinners from Noe.
      >
      > Noe is a high-roller crony of Taft, US Senator
      > George Voinovich and
      > President George W. Bush. Noe charged the Ohio
      > Bureau of Workman's
      > Compensation nearly $13 million to invest some $58
      > million. Ohio
      > Attorney-General Jim Petro, to whom Noe once donated
      > money, says some
      > $4 million disappeared into Noe's pocket.
      >
      > The new charges against Taft's former aide are at
      > the edge of
      > Coingate's links to Bush, Voinovich and organized
      > crime. Through
      > Noe's wife Bernadette, those links extend to the GOP
      > theft of Ohio
      > 2004.
      >
      > Tom Noe, northwest Ohio's "Mr. Republican" and a
      > close Bush/Rove
      > crony, is under federal investigation for making
      > possibly illegal
      > contributions to the Bush/Cheney campaign.
      >
      > As owner of Vintage Coins and Cards in Maumee, Ohio,
      > Noe raised more
      > than $100,000, to become a Bush Pioneer/Ranger.
      >
      > But Noe was more than a mere fundraiser. The New
      > York Times dubbed
      > him Toledo's "Mr. Republican," the GOP "man to see"
      > in northwest
      > Ohio. While Tom chaired the regional Bush-Cheney
      > campaign, his wife
      > Bernadette chaired the scandal-torn Lucas County
      > Board of Elections
      > that played a key role in caging votes to put Bush
      > back in the White
      > House.
      >
      > Noe's fortune came in part from charging the Bureau
      > of Worker's
      > Compensation (BWC) $12.6 million in coin-fund
      > related expenses for
      > managing the $50 million investment between 1998 and
      > 2004. Federal
      > and state officials are now investigating these
      > expenses.
      >
      > A "Ponzi scheme" is what Ohio's Republican Attorney
      > General Jim Petro
      > calls the method by which Noe may have stolen
      > millions of dollars
      > from the state of Ohio's Bureau of Worker's
      > Compensation (BWC).
      >
      > Petro says that on May 31, 1998, Noe received the
      > first of two $25
      > million payments approved from then-Governor
      > Voinovich's BWC. Noe
      > promptly laundered $1.375 million into his personal
      > or business
      > account. Rolling in public money, Noe then asked to
      > run a bizarre
      > rare coin investment scheme on behalf of the BWC.
      >
      > Meanwhile Noe laundered money into Republican Party
      > campaigns. Among
      > others, he and Bernadette made a $4500 contribution
      > to then-Secretary
      > of State Bob Taft's successful campaign for
      > governor, at a time when
      > Brian Hicks was Taft's top aide.
      >
      > The Toledo Blade reports that Noe later gave Taft
      > another $2500.
      > Still another $2000 went to then-governor
      > Voinovich's successful
      > Senate campaign. And another $500 went to re-elect
      > Petro, then the
      > state auditor.
      >
      > Mr. Noe's attorney acknowledged on May 26 that as
      > much as $13 million
      > in BWC assets remain missing. Petro says $4 million
      > was illegally
      > taken by Noe for personal use.
      >
      > Noe's high-flying financial dance is rooted in the
      > gubernatorial
      > corruption of his good friend Voinovich, and a shady
      > aide named Paul
      > Mifsud. Mifsud was Voinovich's Chief of Staff and
      > has become a
      > statewide symbol of official corruption and
      > illegality.
      >
      > Mifsud's was responsible for much of Tom Noe's rapid
      > rise. According
      > to the conservative Columbus Dispatch, May 8, 2005,
      > Mifsud paved the
      > way for Noe's rare coin gambit.
      >
      > Mifsud himself spent six months in prison for
      > destroying the
      > government records of a sweetheart construction deal
      > he engineered
      > for his then-fiancée's house. Mifsud made the
      > mistake of giving the
      > bid to a controversial contractor named T.G. Banks,
      > who allegedly did
      > the job in exchange for state contracts.
      >
      > Mifsud took both Banks and Noe under his wing. He
      > made Noe Chair of
      > the Lucas County Republican Party in 1992. Noe says
      > the job "kept me
      > alive."
      >
      > In 1993, Noe testified in his divorce case that
      > Mifsud and
      > Voinovich's cohort Vincent Panichi were now his coin
      > clients. Panichi
      > later figured in a 1996 money laundering scandal
      > involving donations
      > from Banks' underage nieces of $1000 each to the
      > Voinovich campaign.
      >
      > Panichi also told a grand jury that Voinovich had
      > approved a $60,000
      > illegal payment from his 1994 gubernatorial campaign
      > fund to his own
      > family's business, headed by his brother Paul
      > Voinovich. The Governor
      > later said Panichi probably told him this, but he
      > hadn't heard it
      > because his hearing aid was turned off or
      > malfunctioning.
      >
      > A very public high roller, Mifsud openly bragged of
      > alleged ties to
      > the CIA. He also claimed membership in the secretive
      > Knights of
      > Malta, running the Maltese American Foundation. The
      > Knights and the
      > CIA have been accused in various news reports of
      > working together in
      > covert operations around the globe.
      >
      > Mifsud never talked to the Free Press. But the late
      > Republican
      > Franklin County Sheriff Earl Smith and other
      > high-ranking law
      > enforcement sources and Republicans say Mifsud's CIA
      > connections were
      > real.
      >
      > Mifsud's own autobiography claimed service in
      > "military intelligence"
      > with the United States Air Force between 1966-1970.
      > Columbus Alive
      > revealed in an award-winning article that Mifsud was
      > indeed the key
      > player in spending millions of Ohio tax dollars to
      > bring the CIA-
      > affiliated drug-running Southern Air Transport
      > airline to Columbus in
      > 1995.
      >
      > The infamous Iran-Contra airline went bankrupt in
      > October 1998 after
      > the CIA Inspector General confirmed printed
      > allegations that a dozen
      > of its pilots were linked to drug running. A downed
      > Southern Air
      > Transport plane led to the Reagan-Era Iran-Contra
      > scandals.
      >
      > Noe's Coingate goes to the Bush family through
      > Misfud, whose
      > connections to George Herbert Walker Bush date from
      > the 1970s.
      > Regardless of his alleged CIA connections, Misfud
      > chaired Bush1's
      > Cuyahoga County Bush for President Committee in
      > 1979. Mifsud was also
      > vice chairman for Ohio's 1988 Bush for President
      > Committee.
      >
      > Mifsud was investigated by Ohio Inspector General
      > David Sturtz during
      > Voinovich's first term as governor (1991-1995).
      > Voinovich fired
      > Sturtz. But not before Columbus ALIVE uncovered
      > Mifsud's role in
      > helping Banks jump from being a bar room bouncer to
      > the state's
      > leading minority contractor, a major Voinovich
      > donor, and the
      > contractor of choice for Mifsud's girl friend's
      > house.
      >
      > As the Mifsud-Banks scandal heated up, Voinovich
      > appointed Noe to the
      > Ohio Board of Regents. Noe has no college degree.
      > But in 1999, Taft
      > re-appointed him to a full 9-year term.
      >
      > On July 26, 1996, Mifsud resigned as the governor's
      > Chief of Staff
      > claiming he wanted to spend more time with his
      > family. On October 9,
      > 1997 Mifsud was sentenced to six months in the Union
      > County
      > Rehabilitation Center after pleading guilty to
      > ethics violations for
      > altering a public document in the Banks scandal.
      >
      > Mifsud got a coveted daytime work release which,
      > according to news
      > reports, allowed him to continue work as a GOP
      > fundraiser and
      > operative. Tom Noe and Coingate may have been his
      > last covert
      > operation.
      >
      > The Columbus Dispatch reported that Bush the Elder
      > contacted Mifsud
      > when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. Mifsud
      > died in May 2000.
      >
      > Three years earlier the Ohio Bureau of Workman's
      > Compensation was
      > caught up in a major scandal. BWC Chief Operating
      > Office Steve Isaac
      > was fired November 7, 1997.
      >
      > Isaac then sued his former boss, Bureau Chief James
      > Conrad, a
      > longtime Voinovich operative. Isaac alleged he was
      > fired for filing
      > an ethics complaint against Dale Hamilton, the
      > Bureau's Deputy
      > Administrator for Special Projects. Dale is the son
      > of Phil Hamilton,
      > Governor Voinovich's Transition Chief and a powerful
      > lobbyist for the
      > then-Governor's family business, the Voinovich
      > Companies.
      >
      > Dale's mother Patricia chaired the important Ohio
      > Board of Personnel
      > Review. Issac claimed that he found documents in a
      > briefcase that
      > Dale Hamilton left in Isaac's office that "showed
      > that Hamilton had
      > used his inside status at the Bureau and the
      > information to which he
      > had acquired access through administering managed
      > care technology,
      > internal auditing and external consulting for the
      > Bureau, to benefit
      > Hamilton and Associates," his father's firm.
      >
      > Essentially Hamilton was mining BWC data on
      > emergency medical
      > services and other health services and selling the
      > information to
      > Ohio municipalities for a cut of the reimbursements.
      > Conrad
      > threatened to sue the Columbus Alive weekly
      > newspaper for reporting
      > the story. He also threatened a private citizen with
      > a lawsuit within
      > 13 minutes of receiving her email complaining about
      > Isaac's firing,
      > the Alive later reported. Conrad resigned as BWC
      > Chief on May 27,
      > 2005, as Coingate began to erupt.
      >
      > Richard G. Ward, Ohio's Inspector General, released
      > a report on June
      > 19, 1997 after an investigation of the BWC that
      > noted "This
      > experience served to illustrate serious deficiencies
      > in the ability
      > of BWC to objectively identify, analyze and deal
      > with allegations of
      > wrongdoing within the agency."
      >
      > In July, 2003, Taft gave Noe a seat on the Ohio
      > Turnpike Commission
      > for a term ending June 30, 2011. In Ohio politics,
      > the Turnpike
      > Commission is where the GOP and organized crime are
      > known to meet.
      > Its commissioners have included a long string of
      > notorious alleged
      > mob bosses such as Umberto Fedeli, appointed by
      > Voinovich as its
      > chair.
      >
      > In August 1996, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported
      > that Tommy
      > Banks's Banks-Carbone construction company,
      > suspected as a phony
      > minority front company, bought liability insurance
      > through the Fedeli
      > Group, solely owned by the Chair of the Ohio
      > Turnpike Commission.
      > Fedeli refused to disclose his insurance agency
      > clients who did
      > business with the Turnpike. Fedeli resigned after
      > printed accounts
      > revealed that he had not disclosed his 1995
      > relationship with Banks-
      > Carbone. A state contractor, S.E. Johnson Companies,
      > received a $32
      > million construction contract in early 1996, the
      > same year they
      > switched their insurance to the Fedeli Group in
      > 1996.
      >
      > That year Voinovich attempted to appoint to the
      > Turnpike Commission
      > Carmen Parise, an alleged associate of James T.
      > "Jack White"
      > Licavoli, another reputed organized crime boss.
      > Noe's Taft-appointed
      > eight-year seat at the Turnpike Commission by Taft
      > put him at dead
      > center of a scandal-ridden office from which his
      > coin operations
      > could flourish.
      >
      > Among other things, Noe used his political pull for
      > insider favors
      > like a coveted ticket at Ohio State's national
      > championship football
      > game in Arizona. Email documents also indicate Noe
      > attended at least
      > one "Ohio political strategy session" with GOP
      > operatives Ken Mehlman
      > and Collister "Coddy" Johnson, George W. Bush's Ohio
      > campaign manager
      > and field director. Karl Rove is listed as a
      > possible attendee. As a
      > Bush Ranger/Pioneer with unparalleled clout in
      > northern Ohio and
      > around the 2004 election's most crucial swing state,
      > Noe was near the
      > top of the national GOP food chain.
      >
      > In April, the Toledo Blade reported that Noe was
      > under federal
      > investigation for making illegal donations to the
      > Bush-Cheney re-
      > election campaign. By all accounts, Coingate is
      > still in the early
      > stages of unraveling, and where it reaches, no one
      > yet knows. But
      > most serious observers of Ohio politics believe it
      > will go very high.
      >
      > The outing of how Noe and his wife may have used
      > their clout to steal
      > votes in Lucas County's "Votegate" has also just
      > begun.
      >
      > Election day in Ohio 2004 was defined by partisan
      > chaos, confusion
      > and theft everywhere in the state. But the Noe's
      > Toledo was uniquely
      > rife with corruption and illegality.
      >
      > Well before election day, Lucas County's Democratic
      > headquarters was
      > broken into. Key voter data went missing.
      >
      > On November 2, inner city voting machines
      > mysteriously broke down en
      > masse. Polls opened late. The Toledo Blade has
      > reported that the sole
      > machine at the Birmingham polling site in east
      > Toledo broke down
      > around 7 a.m. By order of Secretary of State Kenneth
      > Blackwell, no
      > paper ballots were available for backup.
      >
      > At one school polling station the voting machines
      > were locked in the
      > office of the principal, who called in sick. The
      > Gesu School in West
      > Toledo temporarily ran out of ballots. There were
      > huge lines, missing
      > ballots and technical anomalies associated with the
      > leased Diebold
      > Optical-Scan voting tabulators. Lucas County BOE
      > Director Paula Hicks-
      > Hudson admitted that the Diebold machines had jammed
      > during the
      > previous week's testing, but the BOE did not bother
      > to fix them for
      > the election.
      >
      > Sworn statements at public hearings in Toledo and
      > Columbus confirmed
      > that scores of citizens were disenfranchised because
      > they had to go
      > to work. According to the Toledo Blade, at the
      > Birmingham polling
      > site in east Toledo, the sole machine broke down
      > around 7am. When
      > Ohio Rep. Peter Ujvagi tried to cast his ballot an
      > hour later, a poll
      > worker told him to place his ballot in "a secure
      > slot under the
      > machine" so it could be scanned in later, after
      > Ujvagi had left.
      >
      > When voting rights activists challenged Republican
      > Secretary of State
      > Blackwell's controversial partisan handling of
      > provisional ballots,
      > Tom Noe sued on Blackwell's behalf. Bernadette Noe
      > worked hard to
      > reverse the traditional Ohio practice of allowing
      > provisional ballots
      > to be cast in precincts other than the one in which
      > voters were
      > registered. Her efforts helped disenfranchise
      > innumerable Toledo
      > voters, most of them inner city Democrats..
      >
      > Ms. Noe also reversed standard procedure and banned
      > public testimony
      > at an open meeting meant to discuss a Republican
      > Party challenge to
      > 35,000 newly registered Ohio voters. The challenge
      > was blocked by a
      > federal judge.
      >
      > But the election in Lucas County had become so
      > infamous that on April
      > 8, Blackwell fired the entire County Board of
      > Elections. Bernadette
      > Noe had announced her plans to resign in December,
      > 2004. But
      > Blackwell's desperate move was a slap in her face,
      > especially since
      > the Secretary of State himself is at center stage in
      > deepening
      > disputes over how Ohio's 2004 election might have
      > been stolen.
      > Blackwell served as Ohio's Bush-Cheney co-chair
      > while running what he
      > claimed to be a fair election.
      >
      > Blackwell's investigation of the Lucas County BOE
      > has been received
      > with shock and awe around the state.
      >
      > It cites no less than thirteen areas of "grave
      > concern"
      > including "failure to maintain ballot security";
      > "inability to
      > implement and maintain a trackable system for voter
      > ballot
      > reconciliation": "failure to prepare and develop a
      > plan for the
      > processing of the voluminous amount of voter
      > registration forms
      > received"; "issuance and acceptance of incorrect
      > absentee ballot
      > forms"; and "failure to maintain the security of
      > poll books during
      > the official canvas."
      >
      > Richard Weghorst, Ohio's Director of Campaign
      > Finance, and Faith
      > Lyon, the Secretary of State's liaison to county
      > board of elections,
      > found among other things that optical scan ballots
      > received from a
      > private printing company were left unattended and
      > unsecured in a
      > warehouse for nearly a month prior to the
      > presidential election.
      >
      > Ms. Noe was quoted in the Toledo Blade, saying, "It
      > is important for
      > everyone to remember that we had a good, fair, and
      > accurate election
      > in November, despite the fact that we were at the
      > epicenter of the
      > national election."
      >
      > But election protection activists are swarming into
      > Lucas County and
      > have added to Blackwell's list a stunning litany of
      > irregularities,
      > all pointing in the direction of massive vote fraud
      > for the benefit
      > of George W. Bush, engineered at least in part by
      > his friends Tom and
      > Bernadette Noe.
      >
      > Tom Noe has been reportedly liquidating his
      > properties to pay back
      > the state. But his financial sinkhole has already
      > thoroughly tainted
      > a deeply unpopular Taft regime.
      >
      > The still-young Coingate and Votegate scandals have
      > already
      > catapulted the Bush/Rove Pioneer/Ranger Noe family
      > close to the realm
      > of headlines currently reserved for Joe Wilson and
      > Valerie Plame.
      >
      > But Ohio insiders predict much more to come.
      >
      > --
      > Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-editors of
      > DID GEORGE W.
      > BUSH STEAL AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION?, published by
      > http://www.freepress.org/, where THE FITRAKIS FILES
      > are also
      > available. HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is
      > at
      > http://www.harveywasserman.com/.
      >
      > Link:
      >
      http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1387
      >
      >
      >
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