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CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS Report: Noe grand jury hears from ex-mayor



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two executives who worked with Noe's brother-in-law also testified.

TOLEDO (AP) -- A former mayor, a county commissioner and a former election board director were among those who appeared this week before a federal grand jury looking into whether Tom Noe broke campaign contribution laws, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The Toledo Blade also reported that two executives who work with Noe's brother-in-law testified before the grand jury under immunity.

Brother-in-law Joe Restivo and the co-workers attended a Bush-Cheney fund-raiser in October 2003 that raised $1.4 million and is a focus of the investigation, the newspaper said. Records show all three gave donations that met federal guidelines.

Others who testified

The grand jury is examining whether Noe, a coin dealer and prominent Republican contributor, skirted contribution laws by having others donate money for him. Numerous GOP state officeholders, President Bush and the Republican National Committee have decided to forgo Noe's campaign donations.

Prosecutors are not allowed to discuss grand jury matters, which are private. The newspaper said former Toledo mayor Donna Owens, councilwoman Betty Shultz and Lucas County commissioner Maggie Thurber -- all Republicans -- were among those who testified.

H. Douglas Talbott, a former aide to Republican governors George Voinovich and Bob Taft, also testified, as did former Lucas County Elections Board Director Joe Kidd, the newspaper said.

The grand jury will hear more testimony next month, the Blade reported.

Federal campaign laws limit individual contributions to $2,000. It's illegal to circumvent the law by giving money to another person to donate.

Coin scandal

Noe also is under investigation by the state for his handling of its troubled $50 million investment in rare coins. Noe's attorney has said that up to $12 million is missing from the fund, given to Noe by the state's Bureau of Worker's Compensation for investment.

Taft created a management review team on Friday to evaluate the bureau's investments. State Lottery Director Tom Hays will lead the three-member team.

At least a dozen former public officials or employees are being investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission and other panels looking into Noe's conduct, The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.

David Freel, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said it is working with the state inspector general and other state and federal partners.

State GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said that "every once in a while a bad apple does come along," and that party leaders are dealing with the Noe allegations by returning contributions and investigating the missing money.

Bennett said it's too early to determine the source of Noe's campaign contributions and whether they came from the state's coin investment funds.




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