Investigator: Group accuses IG of covering up Coingate

4:44 PM, Feb 21, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND - A citizen watchdog group is accusing the state Inspector General - already under fire for attending a Republican fundraiser - of covering up the $50 million Coingate scandal involving a Republican fundraiser.

In a letter, the group Common Cause took Inspector General Randall Meyer to task for failing to disclose how Tom Noe, a former Lucas County Republican Party chairman, was able to steal millions from a $50 million rare-coin investment that Noe managed for the Bureau of Worker's Compensation.

"The failure to issue an investigation report on Coingate results in a cover-up of what went wrong in state government to cause one of the biggest scandals in Ohio history, and enables the officials responsible to escape accountability," wrote William Woods, chair of Common Cause. "The public is left wondering if sufficient steps have been taken to preclude similar scandals in the future."

The group threatened to take legal action forcing the inspector general to issue the report if Meyer, appointed by Gov. John Kasich, did not reverse his decision.  

Carl Enslen, a spokesman for Meyer, said, "Neither the current inspector general nor any of his staff now here, save one person who was involved in several interviews, had any active participation in the 2005 Noe investigation or the prosecution that followed.

"It is not the intention of the current inspector general to draft a report based on a multi-year investigation involving hundreds of boxes of records where he had no active role."

Common Cause's letter comes amid growing criticism into Meyer's job as inspector general.

The Investigator Tom Meyer reported that the inspector general was found hobnobbing at a Republican political fundraiser - even though his office is not supposed to be political. There are also questions on whether Meyer is turning a blind eye to issues that might give Republican's a black eye.

"Randall Meyer is fast becoming the most overtly political inspector general we've ever had in this state," Dale Butland of Innovation Ohio, a liberal think tank, told The Investigator.

The 2006 scandal involving Noe, a former Toledo-area coin dealer now serving 18 years in state prison, was followed by charges against top Republican lawmakers including then-Gov. Bob Taft. Taft was convicted of violating state ethics laws for failing to disclose gifts from Noe.

The previous inspector general, Thomas Charles, was waiting to issue a final report on Coingate until criminal authorities had completed their work. The criminal investigations concluded in 2010, but Charles left the office before the report was issued.

"For years, we and many other citizens have been waiting to know what went wrong to cause these major problems in state government," Woods wrote in the letter. "How could then get away with it for so long?"

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