Dramatic new charges deepen link between Ohio's "Coingate," Voinovich mob connections, and the theft of the 2004 election
- --- Julie Keller <jakeller@...> wrote:
> To: email@example.com://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1387
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> Franklin County Sheriff Earl Smith and other
> high-ranking law
> enforcement sources and Republicans say Mifsud's CIA
> connections were
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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.
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> including "failure to maintain ballot security";
> "inability to
> implement and maintain a trackable system for voter
> 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
> 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
> 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