Thomas Noe is a Republican insider from Maumee, Ohio, was chairman of President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign in northwest Ohio, and was a major fund-raiser for Bush's re-election campaign Those fund-raising efforts are the focus of a federal grand jury investigations. Noe is under at least six separate investigations, involving his fund-raising and missing money from the Ohio Workers' Compensation Bureau's pension fund.
Thomas Noe was a "pioneer" for Bush's re-election campaign -- meaning he raised more than $100,000 for the president. While Bush has returned $4,000 to Noe and his wife Bernadette, he has not returned the $100,000-plus that garnered Noe his "pioneer" status. Bush met with Noe last October to thank him and his wife for their fundraising efforts. Bush narrowly won Ohio, whose 19 electoral votes enabled him to secure a second term.
On Oct. 30, 2003, more than 600 people gathered inside a Hyatt Regency hotel ballroom in downtown Columbus, Ohio, fundraiser where President Bush delivered a campaign speech. With admission priced at $2,000 a person, the luncheon raised more than $1.4 million for the president’s re-election effort.
But some attendees got more than just an expensive lunch. Individuals who sponsored a $20,000 table at the event—that is, they convinced 10 people to give $2,000 apiece—got to take their picture with Bush.
The event is now the subject of a federal investigation into whether Noe violated campaign-finance laws by reimbursing individuals for contributions to the Bush campaign. According to the Columbus Dispatch, at least $25,000 in contributions collected at the event came from the same bank account. Furthermore, at least one donor at the luncheon has told authorities he was reimbursed by Noe for his $2,000 contribution. Noe plead guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and he was sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison.
Noe was tapped by the Voinovich Administration to manage a portion of the Ohio Workers' Compensation Bureau's pension funds.
For nearly a decade, Thomas Noe has been the Republican Party's man to see in northwest Ohio, a prodigious fundraiser for just about every Republican statewide elected official. He also happened to be a dealer in rare coins.
In 1998, the Ohio Workers' Compensation Bureau agreed to invest in a rare-coin fund that Noe controlled as a way to hedge its holdings in stocks and bonds, an investment that experts have called highly unorthodox.
According to Noe's lawyers, as much as $13 million of the state's $50 million investment in his funds cannot be accounted for. William C. Wilkinson, a lawyer for Noe, said his client was cooperating fully with the criminal investigations. Noe was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. (Source: Ohio fundraiser gets 18 years in prison - AP, Nov. 20, 2006)
According to a Toledo Blade investigation "two coins worth $300,000 had been lost in 2003. Then state officials acknowledged that another 119 coins worth $93,000 were missing." It is unclear to Ohio officials if Noe had the legal authority to invest the state's money on collectibles or whether the state was even the rightful owner of those items. During his time as administrator of the fund Noe collected over $3 million in fees to the state.
Questions as to whether or not a vigorous and thorough investigation will be forthcoming are being raised, because Republicans control not only the governor's office, but the state legislature, the attorney general's office, the Supreme Court and the state auditor's office.
The scandal also has jolted the Republican Party simply because Noe, 50, has helped or befriended just about every prominent Republican in the state. There are now calls for the U.S. Justice Department to take control of the investigations, suggesting that the state attorney general and auditor, both Republicans, are too close to Noe to investigate him.
- Bush's Ohio Edge: Toledo Blade unearths $200 million October cover-up in Ohio - Daily Kos
- Coingate: Fund Facts to Know and Tell - Daily Kos
- [http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060213/BREAKINGNEWS/60213015 GRAND JURY CHARGES NOE WITH 53 FELONY COUNTS
] - Toledo Blade, February 13, 2006.