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Dann: Not much new from aide



Published: Wed, August 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The senator seeks some weekly memos dating back to 1998.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio state senator suing Gov. Bob Taft in a state investments scandal says a ranking member of Taft's staff provided little of substance when questioned in connection with the suit.

Taft, a Republican, refuses to testify, claiming executive privilege, a Taft spokesman says.

State Sen. Marc Dann of Liberty, D-32nd, is suing Taft in the Ohio Supreme Court over access to weekly memoranda in the governor's office in connection with the investment controversies at the state Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Dann said that Taft's Chief Policy Adviser, Kate Bartter, declined to answer some questions during her deposition July 27.

"Ms. Bartter, on instructions from counsel, refused to answer relevant questions not seeking privileged information," Dann lawyer Fred Gittes argued in a motion filed with the high court Tuesday.

Bartter testified that she was not privy to every conversation or meeting involving the governor, Dann's motion said.

Others he wants to question

Dann, who has emerged as one of the loudest critics of the investment controversies, had wanted to question Taft and others under oath, including Taft Chief of Staff Jon Allison, former Taft executive assistant James Samuels, BWC lobbyist Mark Nedved, former BWC administrator James Conrad and former Taft chief of staff Brian Hicks.

So far, the governor's office has only produced Bartter.

Dann's suit seeks all weekly memos dating to 1998 from the governor's office involving the BWC, the state's insurance fund for injured workers.

The BWC has lost about $300 million in various investments over the past few years, published reports say.

Taft's office has turned over several hundred pages of governor's office memoranda to Dann and his lawyers. Dann's lawyers, however, say some were redacted while as many as 267 memos were not provided.

But lawyers for Taft have filed a motion seeking protection from depositions, claiming executive privilege.

Dann's motion to compel Taft's testimony, which includes a request to stay the case's briefing schedule as well as Taft's motion for protective order, remains pending.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel said the governor will not testify.




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