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GOP's arrogance surprising in light of growing scandal



Published: Sat, June 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



With Republicans in charge, between $10 million and $12 million are missing from the $55 million the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation funneled to Toledo coin dealer Tom Noe, a prominent GOP contributor.

With Republicans in charge, the BWC money not only was used to purchase coins -- more than 100 have disappeared -- but there is some indication that expensive wine and Cuban cigars were secured as investment instruments.

And with Republicans in charge, $215 million in workers' compensation money has been lost as a result of investment decisions made by Pittsburgh-based MDL Capital Management Inc.

Why then would the taxpayers of Ohio agree to Republicans leading any investigation into the loss of millions of dollars of public funds? They wouldn't. The only way to ensure public trust in a state government dominated by the GOP is for all the probes that have been launched to be independent and objective.

That also goes for the legislative panel created by Republican leaders in the House and Senate to review the activities of the workers' compensation bureau.

Committee's composition

We do not fault minority Democrats for reacting negatively to the arrogance shown by House Speaker Jon Husted and Senate President Bill Harris with regard to the composition of the committee. Husted and Harris have proposed two Republicans and one Democrat from each chamber, but House Minority Leader Chris Redfern is demanding balance between the parties.

Redfern is right in seeking four Republicans and four Democrats from each chamber and in suggesting that the committee have subpoena powers.

The minority leader has good reason for believing that a four-two GOP majority would result in the Democrats being ignored. After all, that's what happened recently when Republicans brushed aside Democrats' demands that any changes to BWC's investment policies should be addressed in special legislation.

Instead, GOP leaders decided to insert changes in the state's $51 billion budget, which had the effect of blocking bipartisan debate on the BWC.

Such arrogance is not only misplaced, but does nothing to reassure a cynical public. Given that coin dealer Noe had his financial hooks into many state Republican officeholders and the state GOP, the taxpayers of Ohio want to be assured that there isn't the slightest possibility of a coverup.

Trying to tie Democrats into the scandal, as GOP Chairman Robert Bennett did last week in contending that MDL Capital Management has donated to state and national Democratic candidates, is unpersuasive.

The decisions pertaining to the investment of taxpayer dollars were made by Republicans and oversight responsibility belonged to Republicans. Now the question is whether the GOP is willing to let the chips fall where they may.




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