The Noe Factor
"It is also now known that many Republican officials in Ohio
suppressed the news of the campaign finance violations to save the Bush campaign."
By late afternoon on November 2, 2004, nationally, all the exit polls showed
John Kerry winning with 50.8% of the votes and showed George W Bush with 48.2%,
meaning Kerry had a 2.6% lead over Bush.
But when the vote counts came in at the end of election day, Bush had 50.9%
of the votes, and Kerry had 48.1%, meaning Bush received 2.8% more votes than
According to Dr Ron Baiman, PhD, from the Institute of Government and Public
Affairs at the University of Illinois in Chicago, who has 16 years of experience
teaching statistics to both graduate and undergraduate college students, there
would be about 1 chance in 900,000 of that kind of statistical error occurring.
Ohio was the most important state to Bush. He could not win without it. He
spent so much time in the state that people began to wonder whether he had left
a forwarding address to Ohio.
At his last campaign rally in the state, a mere 4 days before the election,
Bush bestowed special praise on a husband and wife team who in hindsight, were
more helpful to Bush than any other politicians in Ohio, as far as rigging the
““I want to thank my friends Bernadette Noe and Tom Noe,"
Bush told the audience at the Toledo rally, "for their leadership in Lucas
After the speech, Bush and his wife met with Tom Noe and his wife backstage,
to thank them for their "work on the campaign," according to the October
30, 2004 Toledo Blade.
As it turns out, Bush had a lot to be thankful for. During the campaign, Noe
earned the title of “Pioneer,” which means he raised at least $100,000
for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
However, Tom Noe was rewarded by Bush with an appointment as chairman of a
committee of the US Mint, that advises the US Treasury secretary on designs
and themes for coins and congressional medals.
According to a Treasury Department press release Noe was recommended for the
appointment by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and nominated by
Treasury Secretary John Snowe.
Noe was the guy to know in Toledo-area politics for many years. He chaired
not only the Lucas County Republican Party, but also the Lucas County Board
of Elections and in 2004, the regional Bush-Cheney campaign.
As a regional chairman of the campaign, according to the April 8, 2005 Toledo
Blade, Noe had frequent contact with Karl Rove, met with the President, and
received White House invitations.
According to e-mails obtained by the Blade, from Ohio Governor Bob Taft's office,
Noe used his influence to obtain an invitation to a White House ceremony honoring
the Ohio State football team and once in the White House, Noe was invited to
attend an "Ohio political strategy session."
In 2002, Bernadette Noe, took over the post of chairman of the Lucas County
Board of Elections, and is largely credited with playing a key role in rigging
of the 2004 election in Ohio.
While Tom Noe was still BOE Chairman, he made the acquisition of electronic
voting machines, bragging about how fast they were installed. But in 2004, even
before election day, Lucas County was up to its neck in problems with the now
infamous Diebold opti-scan vote counters.
The dirty tricks in Lucas Country started long before election day. For instance,
the Democratic headquarters was broken into and key voter data was stolen.
In the months before the election, when voting rights activists tried to challenge
the Republican Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell's partisan handling of provisional
ballots in court, Tom Noe intervened on Blackwell's behalf. Blackwell also served
as co-chair for the Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign,
While Tom handled the court business, Bernadette worked to reverse the Ohio
tradition of allowing provisional ballots to be cast in precincts other than
the one in which voters were registered and helped disenfranchise many inner-city
Toledo Democratic voters.
On November 2, 2004, during the election, inner city voting machines broke
down and polls opened late. The Toledo Blade reported that the sole machine
at the Birmingham polling site in east Toledo broke down at about 7 am, and
that per order of Secretary Blackwell, there were no paper ballots available
At one school the voting machines were locked in the principal‘s office,
and the principal just happened to call in sick election day. Another school
in west Toledo temporarily ran out of ballots.
In precinct after precinct, African-American voters were disenfranchised as
the waiting lines grew to three, four and 5 hours and thousands were forced
to leave without voting.
The Blade discovered that in the summer of 2004, 28,000 voters were "erased"
from the Lucas County registration rolls and found the purge included voters
like Barbara and Ralph George "who first registered to vote for John F.
Kennedy in 1960 and had lived in the same East Toledo house for 44 years."
After a job well-done in Lucas County, in January 2005, the happy Noe couple
co-sponsored Ohio’s inaugural ball in Washington, and according to the
Blade, "Mr. Bush and Mr. Noe embraced. The President then hugged Mrs. Noe."
However, on April 8, 2005, it started raining on the Noe’s parade when
the results of an investigation into the Lucas County election turned up so
much dirt that it forced Secretary Blackwell to fire the entire Lucas County
Board of Elections.
The investigation cited over a dozen areas of "grave concern" including
failure to maintain ballot security; inability to implement and maintain a trackable
system for voter ballot 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.
Over the years, Tom Noe and his wife, were equally generous to all Republican
candidates for state office, federal office, and even judicial seats on the
Ohio Supreme Court.
In fact, five of the seven Supreme Court justices were Noe beneficiaries receiving
over $23,000 in contributions from the husband and wife team. In 2004, Tom was
even the campaign chairman for Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger.
Noe was known to be a close associate of Ohio Senator George Voinovich
and Ohio Governor Robert Taft, and had long been called northwest Ohio's "Mr.
And Noe's generosity to Ohio politicians did not go unrewarded. In addition
to his leadership positions in the GOP, he was appointed to the Ohio Turnpike
Commission, the Bowling Green State University board, and the Ohio Board of
Regents, which has authority over state's educational system, including the
management of funds.
In 1997, Noe even gained access to state funds when the Ohio Bureau of Workers'
Compensation started a program, allowing for investments other then stocks and
bonds, and Noe cut a deal to buy and sell rare coins as an investment for the
It seems that Noe was given authority to invest $50 million in coins and other
collectibles such as baseball cards, and under the contract, 80% of the profits
were to go to the worker's compensation fund, and the remainder to Noe's business.
The Toledo Blade was the first to run a story on Noe’s gig with the state
on April 3, 2005.
Within 20 after Blackwell fired the BOE, it started pouring on the happy couple.
On April 28, 2005, the Blade reported that Gregory White, US attorney for the
Northern District of Ohio, had confirmed that his office, in conjunction with
the FBI, was looking into Tom Noe's fundraising activities, as chairman of the
Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio.
"We have publicly confirmed the investigation of Mr. Noe in relation to
some campaign contributions," Mr White told the Blade.
Parallel to the Federal probe, the Blade noted, was the investigation of the
Lucas County and Franklin County Offices of the Prosecutor into Noe's inability
to account for $10-12 million of the BWC’s funds.
Less than a month later, on May 26, 2005, state law enforcement officials,
acting on behalf of prosecutors, raided Noe's company, Vintage Coins and Collectibles,
trying to find out what happened to the $10-12 million missing from the $50
million belonging to BWC.
The distinct possibility has been raised several times, that Noe may have funneled
some of the mysteriously-missing money to politicians.
According to the May 31, 2006 Toledo Blade, the Noes have given more than $200,000
to politicians over the last 16 years and their “giving increased substantially,"
the Blade noted, "after the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in 1998
gave him the first of two $25 million payments to invest in his rare-coin funds."
In April 2005, the Blade reported that two of the state's investments, gold
coins valued at $300,000, had been lost in the mail. On May 31, 2005, the Ohio
Attorney General's office reported that nearly $7 million worth of coins were
Noe apparently has a bad habit of losing rare coins. According to court documents
filed in a previous case involving lost coins, on the evening of November 30,
1996, Noe claimed that $203,588 worth of coins and currency were stolen out
of the backseat of his car and tried to collect on the loss with a claim to
an insurance company.
About a month and a half before the theft, Noe had purchased an insurance policy
from the Homestead Insurance Company, which included coverage for the loss of
inventory by way of theft, that had gone into effect on October 17, 1996.
However, Homestead refused to pay the claim, citing two different exclusionary
clauses. Noe sued the company and lost, and then he appealed that decision and
On April 27, 2005, the federal probe into Noe's funneling of money to the Bush
campaign reached a turning point when FBI agents raided Noe’s home, and
searched the joint for 3 hours looking for evidence of violations of federal
In the summer of 2005, Tom Noe, was described by the Free Press, as a high-roller
crony of Ohio Governor Taft, Ohio Senator George Voinovich and President Bush.
But that that ain‘t all.
It seems as though the Noes had a give-and-take arrangement with just about
every Republican politician in the state. On June 5, 2005, Ohio’s Republican
Attorney General, Jim Petro, acknowledged that Bernadette may have successfully
lobbied his office to direct thousands of dollars in contracts to her law firm
to collect debt on behalf of the state.
According to the Free Press, Noe had even once donated money to Attorney General
The news surrounding the disappearance of state funds intermingled with campaign
finance violations involving state officials kept getting worse and worse over
the summer. On June 8, 2005, media reports said that the BWC had concealed over
$215 million in losses and that Governor Taft had been aware of the situation
A week later, on June 14, 2005, Governor Taft sent a letter to the Ohio Ethics
Commission admitting that he failed to disclose perks and favors from Noe, stating
that it has, "recently come to my attention that I failed to list a number
of golf outings or events on my financial disclosure forms over the past several
On July 22, 2005, Attorney General, Petro, said Noe stole millions of dollars
by using a "Ponzi" scheme to fabricate profits.
On August 27, 2005, Noe took a swipe at Taft, when his attorney released a
statement saying that on May 13, 2001, Noe told the Governor about the rare-coin
fund he operated for the BWC at a Toledo area golf club, after Taft had claimed
that he did not know anything about the coin investment with Noe until April
3, 2005, when the Toledo Blade first reported it.
The first hammer dropped on October 27, 2005, when Noe was officially charged
with illegally funneling $45,400 to the Bush-Cheney campaign that was raised
at a $2,000-a-seat fund-raiser in Columbus, Ohio in October, 2003, by Noe making
contributions in the names of others.
The scheme allowed Noe to ignore the $2,000 limit on individual donations by
passing the money through 24 friends and associates, described as "conduits"
Some of the known "conduits," are 4 current or former Ohio elected
officials, including Toledo City Councilman Betty Shultz, Lucas County Commissioner
Maggie Thurber, former state Representative Sally Perz, and former Toledo Mayor
Court records also show that Noe’s brother-in-law, Joe Restivoand, and
2 former aides to Governor Taft also served as funnels.
All of the conduits signed donor cards that stated they were the source of
their donations even though each knew that Noe made the contributions, prosecutors
said. Each politician now faces state ethics charges for failing to disclose
the money they received from Noe.
On May 31, 2006, critics took it as a sign that the hammer may be ready to
fall on a whole slew of crooked politicians when Noe entered a guilty plea in
the Federal US District Court in Toledo to 3 felony charges related to violating
campaign finance laws and told the judge that he agreed "to accept responsibility
to spare my family and friends the further embarrassment of any additional court
On June 1, 2006, the Blade reported that Bush and the RNC returned a total
of $6,000 in direct contributions from the Noes and said, “State and federal
politicians from Mr. Taft to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the Republican
nominee for governor, to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - have returned
tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from Noe and his wife.”
At the time of Noe's indictment, a senior Justice Department official said
the case represented the largest campaign money-laundering scheme prosecuted
by the DOJ since the new campaign finance laws were enacted in 2002.
Ironically, its now known that Bush's reelection could have been derailed by
a reporter at the Toledo Blade, the same newspaper that has been out front on
the investigation into this whole matter from the beginning.
According to Bill Frogameni in Salon.com on October 6, 2005, the Blade's chief
political columnist, Fritz Wenzel, was told of Noe's campaign finance violations
as early as January 2004, but never gave the information to the Blade.
He learned of the violations from a Republican by the name of Joe Kidd, who
was then the director of the Board of Elections, who was actually fueding with
Bernadette Noe at the time, and retaliated against her by telling Wenzel that
Noe was illegally funneling money to the Bush-Cheney campaign and running a
questionable coin investment with the state.
According to Salon, sources confirmed that Kidd told them he had this conversation
with Wenzel at the time.
However, as it turns out, both Wenzel and his son had personal relationships
with the Noes, who even attended the son's wedding.
In fact, in March 2004, a couple of months after Wenzel got the tip, his son
was elected to the Lucas County Republican Central Committee, and from April
15, 2005, to the end of May 2005, Wenzel's son was on the payroll of the Ohio
Wenzel's silence did not go unnoticed. A month before Wenzel left the Blade,
in a speech at the Lucas County Republicans' annual dinner, Bernadette announced
that Wenzel would be leaving the Blade to run his consulting firm and wished
It is also now known that many Republican officials in Ohio suppressed the
news of the campaign finance violations to save the Bush campaign. The Blade
has learned that the US Attorney’s Office knew of the allegations against
Noe about 3 weeks before the election.
Moreover, by October 15, 2004, the FBI was involved, and the Public Integrity
Section of the Department of Justice in Washington had sent an e-mail to the
US Attorney's office in Cleveland, to authorize the investigation.
According to the Blade, records released in June 2005, show that high-ranking
aides to Governor Taft also worked to suppress revelations about the BWC’s
$215 million hedge fund loss in the final days before the election.
On September 27, 2004, documents show that the BWC’s administrator-chief
executive, James Conrad, learned about the loss and in an October 26, 2004,
e-mail, Conrad said that the “entire value” of the portfolio was
down about $225 million.
As for the media getting information about Noe shenanigans, he had the whole
state tied up in knots. When a case by the Blade seeking access to Noe-related
records ended up before the Ohio Supreme Court, all five of the justices who
had received contributions from Noe had to recuse themselves.
Critics say the scale of the scandal at the BWC could have definitely made
a difference in the presidential race. But instead of alerting the public, on
election day, a Columbus law firm was hired as special counsel, by Republican
Attorney General Petro’’s office, to investigate the hedge fund
On February 13, 2006, the final shoe dropped and Noe was indicted on 53 felonies.
A grand jury charged Noe with 22 counts of forgery, 11 counts of money laundering,
8 counts of tampering with records, 5 counts of grand theft, 6 counts of aggravated
theft, and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity under the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
According to a February 13, 2006 article by the Associated Press, Ohio Inspector
General Tom Charles said investigators know where the money went, but would
not say where.
"Investigators," the AP said, "were looking into whether any
of the stolen money was donated to political candidates."
On May 31, 2006, State Democratic Senator Marc Dann, told the Toledo Blade
that he thinks Noe will be able to cut a deal because he had so much information
on other people involved.
““He knows where a lot of the bodies are buried, and not buried.
He knows what Jim Conrad knew about this, who in Bob Taft’s office facilitated
the second $25 million, who in George Voinovich’s office facilitated the
first $25 million investment, and so he has a lot of information that only he
knows about the rare-coin investment,”
Senator Dann said. If the recent history of revelations is any indication,
many more bodies may indeed be unearthed.
So far the investigation has led Governor Taft and 2 of his former aides to
plead no contest to ethics charges. On July 29, 2005, Brian Hicks, Taft’s
former Chief of Staff, and Cherie Carroll, Hicks' executive assistant, admitted
that they took gifts from Noe.
Hicks pled no contest to knowingly failing to list on financial disclosure
forms that he and his family stayed at Noe's home in Florida in 2002 and 2003,
and Carroll pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of "recklessly"
accepting meals from Noe valued at over $500.
On February 9, 2006, the Ohio Elections Commission referred 2 other former
Taft aides for prosecution. H Douglas Talbott faced charges for, and admitted,
that he funneled money from Noe to three Ohio Supreme Court Justices and accepted
a $39,000 loan from Noe, and J Douglas Moorman was referred because he failed
to report a $5,000 loan from Noe.
On June 1, 2006, the Blade reported that Bush and the RNC returned a total
of $6,000 in direct contributions from the Noes.
“State and federal politicians,” the Blade said, “from Mr.
Taft to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the Republican nominee for governor,
to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - have returned tens of thousands of
dollars in contributions from Noe and his wife.”
However, the Bush gang is not too anxious to turn over any more money. Instead,
the Blade said, “Mr. Bush and his political advisers are taking a wait-and-see
"We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation,"
said Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "We
will make appropriate transfers as directed by the court."
The latest fatality in the rare-coin scheme, is Terrance Gasper, the BWC’s
former chief financial officer, who played a central role in the scheme and
is reportedly cooperating with federal and state authorities as part of a plea
agreement in which he pleaded guilty on June 7, 2006, to a felony count of violating
the RICO Act by accepting money and other gifts and perks in exchange for doling
out millions of dollars in state investments to firms.
Gasper also pleaded guilty to a felony count of money laundering for accepting
$25,000 from Noe and a misdemeanor charge of failing to disclose sources of
income, gifts and other perks from 1999 to 2005, on his annual ethics filings.
The RICO charge carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence, and Gasper faces
a maximum 5-year sentence and a $10,000 fine on the state charges, according
to the Toledo Blade.
According to June 7, 2006, article by the Associated Press, “Prosecutor
Ron O'Brien said he expects more people to be charged this month.”
And the AP reports that “Gasper said he was "more than willing"
to help prosecutors,” so who knows who will end up in the slammer next.