September 22, 2005

Bob Taft Should Resign: Strike Three?

BizzyBlog Blasts from the Past:
- Bob Taft Should Resign
- Bob Taft Should Resign: Strike Two
- Memo to Bob Taft: Learn from the Best about Political Timing

A Hat Tip to the R-Rated Whistleblower, who apparently has two jobs–commenting on local politics and reporting news the Cincinnati Enquirer (affectionately known as “The Fishwrap”) won’t (bolds are mine):

Taft under fire again for failing to list gifts; 2 more cases investigated

COLUMBUS — After meeting for more than two hours behind a locked door, the Ohio Ethics Commission yesterday said it is investigating Gov. Bob Taft for accepting two additional gifts that he failed to list on his annual financial disclosure statement as required by state law.

Neither commission officials nor a spokesman for Mr. Taft yesterday would reveal what the additional gifts were.

Mr. Taft was convicted Aug. 18 in Franklin County Municipal Court of four first-degree misdemeanor ethics violations for knowingly failing to disclose dozens of golf outings and other gifts valued above $75 that he received from lobbyists and businessmen.

The governor was fined $4,000 and ordered to apologize to Ohioans.

A week later, the governor’s office released a list of eight gifts — from a box of steaks worth $100 to an $87 stuffed bear — that Mr. Taft also failed to disclose on his annual ethics form.

David Freel, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said the agency is reviewing two more sources of gifts that Mr. Taft didn’t disclose.

And where is the outrage over this?:

But the issue is moot because Mr. Freel said the plea agreement that prosecutors signed last month with Mr. Taft says the governor cannot be charged with more counts dating back to when he took office in 1999.

Catherine Turcer, legislative director of Ohio Citizen Action, said Mr. Taft had included a “get out of jail free” card into the plea agreement he signed with Franklin County and Columbus prosecutors.

“Taft had to know more stuff would come out, because he asked for it to be part of his plea agreement. It’s a slap in the face of the voters,” said Ms. Turcer, whose group has joined with the Republican-leaning Ohio Roundtable in calling for Mr. Taft’s resignation.

Ms. Turcer said Mr. Taft’s release of additional sources of gifts he failed to disclose showed the dangers of prosecutors’ agreeing to plea agreements.

“By saying whatever we find later is forgiven, they have no idea what they would find,” she said.

The question mark in the above title is subject to review based on the finding of the Ethics Commission. I suspect the question mark won’t last long.

I’d like to see someone take on the prosecutor as to whether the “get out of jail card” part of the agreement was legal. Mr. Taft certainly did not deserve such deference, and I question whether he was legally entitled to it.


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