In light of the recent developments regarding the politicalization of US Attorney positions including issues of elections, I started looking into any connection with the OH US Attorney and the ’04 Ohio election. Many of you will remember, that I have long thought that LUCAS COUNTY was an important key to the theft, partially due to the connection of Tom Noe and his wife Bernadette (Chair of the Lucas County BOE in 2004).
Seems like Rep Conyers and Rep Kaptur had concerns about Ohio US Attorney. In a letter in August of 2005 (link at bottom) to AG Gonzales, they write this regarding the Noe investigation:
OF SPECIAL INTEREST NOTE THESE PARAGRAPHS:
“As a matter of fact, the numerous delays in the investigation have already raised the specter of political favoritism. >From documents that have been made public, we know that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Gregory White, who is leading the federal investigation, had prior knowledge of the losses before the 2004 presidential election, as did the Governor of Ohio and other officials.16 At the same time, no investigation was initiated on these matters until spring of this year.17
The fact pattern present in this case, particularly with the new disclosure that the lead federal prosecutor may well have gotten his job as a result of a political appeal by Governor Taft’s office to Karl Rove, make it abundantly clear that a special counsel is necessitated. We urge you to make such a designation immediately to help restore public trust in this very important investigation. “
That letter came after a early July 2005 letter from Rep Conyers to OH US Attorney Gregory White:
Dear Mr. White,
I write to you because of my very serious concerns regarding the manner in which your office has handled the investigation into alleged federal campaign finance violations involving the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign and other Republican candidates. In particular, I am concerned that your office delayed investigating this very serious matter until after the 2004 presidential election and as a result prejudiced the government’s ability to pursue justice in the case.
It is my understanding that on October 13, 2004, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio was provided evidence from Lucas County grand jury proceedings suggesting extensive federal campaign finance violations took place involving Tom Noe, the leading Bush-Cheney campaign official in the region for the 2004 campaign. On the same day, it was reported that your office shared this information with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, and that later that day, the Section e-mailed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office authorization to investigate the matter. Two days later, on October 15, it was reported that the local prosecutor’s office gave their evidence to the FBI.
It has been further reported by the Toledo Blade that you began your investigation into the case around early March 2005. Subsequent news reports stated that federal grand jury proceedings occurred on June 1, 2005, well after the presidential election and approximately seven-and-one half months after the Department was notified of the potential violations.
If this series of events is accurate, the delay may have violated federal guidelines as well as bar rules of professional conduct requiring impartiality and promptness in criminal investigations. First, federal law directs that each United States Attorney “shall prosecute for all offenses against the United States.” The U.S. Attorneys’ Manual reiterates this requirement and further explains that “their professional abilities and the need for their impartiality in administering justice directly affect the public’s perception of federal law enforcement.” While I am well aware that the principle of prosecutorial discretion grants your office latitude in determining which cases warrant prosecution, that doctrine in no way permits political considerations-including the fact of a high profile and closely contested election-to intrude on the prosecutorial process….
Lucas County, OH Prosecutor Julia Bates presented US Attorney Gregory White with evidence on Tom Noe on October 13, 2004 (22 days before the November 2, 2004 Presidential Election). Ms Bates, who is a Democrat, was up for re-election (although un-opposed in 2004). Is it coincidental that the Lucas County Democratic Headquarters was burglarized on October 11, 2004?
Article published Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Lucas County Democratic headquarters burglarized
The Lucas County Democratic Headquarters was burglarized overnight, and three computers, including the party’s main system, were stolen.
The computers contained highly sensitive information, including the party’s financial information, names and personal phone numbers of hundreds of party members, candidates, and volunteers.
The computers also stored e-mails from candidates that included discussion about campaign strategy.
A second computer, belonging to an attorney-volunteer working to ensure voters’ rights, also was taken, officials said. The headquarters on 1817 Madison Avenue does have an alarm system that volunteers believed they set late Monday when they left.
However, it apparently wasn’t tripped during the night. Workers arriving about 7:30 a.m. yesterday noticed the back window had been shattered and called police.
Finally, is there a connection with this interference and the fact that Tom Noe’s wife Bernadette Noe was Chair of the Lucas County BOE, (Lucas County is a Democratic stronghold) a county that incurred so many issues that OH SOS was forced to issue this report on the county after the ’04 election:
OH SOS Investigation of the Lucas County BOE after 2004 Election
includes the fact that REPUBLICAN VOLUNTEERS were allowed UNSUPERVISED ACCESS to UNSECURED BALLOTS prior to the election, as well as this list:
*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.
*manipulation of the process involving the 3% recount.
*disjointed implementation of the Directive regarding the removal of Nader and C
amejo from the ballot .
*failure to properly issue hospital ballots in accordance with statutory requirements.
*failure to maintain the security of poll books during the official canvass
*failure to examine campaign finance reports in a timely manner.
*failure to guard and protect public documents.
*failure to guard and protect public documents ….etc.
-One-half of the ballots printed and used in the 2004 general election in Lucas county were stored in an open space on the fhird floor of the county warehouse with no security measures in place.
SOURCE: SOS Investigation on Lucas County BOE page 4
-Live ballots were delivered to polling locations a week in advance of the election. Although the ballots were retrieved, one board employee who was assigned to the warehouse informed the SOS staff that he did not believe all the ballots were successfully retrieved.
SOURCE; SOS Investigation, page 5
-Lucas County BOE failed to record or retrieve ballot stub numbers of absentee voters’ ballots as required by statute OH Revised Code 3505.23. It was reported by an elector that her mother had received not one, but three absentee voter ballots. there was no way to determine if similar incidents occurred and if so how many.
SOURCE: SOS Investigation, page 7
-October 4, 2004 was filing deadline for new voter registrations. At that point there were approximately 20,000 unprocessed voter registration applications with less than a month before the election. One mail tray containing 4,500-7,000 (estimates vary) unprocessed “Project Voter” registrations were discovered on or about October 18,2004.
SOURCE: SOS Investigation pg 10
***Of interest here is information obtained from the SOS website entitled ElectionsVoter/results 2003 and 2004 which show the # of registered voters number change from ’03-’04 was 11,947 in Lucas County: reg voters 2003 in Lucas=288,190 ; registered voter in 2004=300,137.
-In late September or early October an employee of the Ohio Republican Party contacted Sam Thurber (*involved with politician wife Maggie Thurber in Noe scandal.) wanting to inspect and have copies made of all recently returned voter registrations, Ohio Republican Party offered to furnish volunteers to assist with copying postcards. No one at the Lucas County BOE can confirm that anyone was assigned to supervise Republican volunteers. On their second day of copying, a BOE employee, Jennifer Bernath, Democratic Booth Official) saw republican party volunteers peeling off the yellow return stickers applied by the post office. (Violation of RC 149.43 (B) (I) , and agruably a violation of 149.351.
SOURCE: SOS Investigation, pgs 18-19
-The Swanton 3 poll book turned up missing and has never been recovered.
SOURCE: SOS Investigation pg 16
Conyers-Kaptur seek special counsel for Noe probe
by John Conyers, Jr. and Marcy Kaptur
August 4, 2005
The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
We write to request that the U.S. Department of Justice immediately appoint an outside special counsel to assume the Department’s investigation into alleged illegal contributions by Mr. Thomas Noe to federal and state political campaigns. In light of recent disclosures that Governor Taft’s office, which is a subject of the investigation, made a direct political appeal to Karl Rove for Gregory White, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio to receive his job, there is little doubt that this is a textbook case for the appointment of a special counsel.
We understand and appreciate that it is not unusual for local and state politicians to use their influence to obtain presidential appointments for their friends and political allies; however, it is unusual, and indeed inappropriate and violative of your regulations, for prosecutors who obtain such appointments to review the conduct of those same individuals and their friends. Regardless of the actual or perceived sincerity or motives of any particular prosecutor, to ask an individual who owes his job to certain politicians to pursue legal actions against those same politicians places the prosecutor in an untenable situation. Whatever actions he or she takes will inevitably be subject to questions of favoritism and bias, calling the entire prosecution into question. This is why the special counsel regulations were promulgated to begin with.
At the outset, we should note that Mr. Noe, who chaired the 2004 Bush-Cheney Campaign for northwest Ohio and managed the State of Ohio’s Bureau of Workers Compensation Fund, appears to have been involved in the diversion of millions of dollars from the Fund to unsecured investments in coins and other collectibles.1 Over $12 million in coins purportedly owned by the State of Ohio, and perhaps other collectibles, are missing, including two coins valued at $300,000.2 Further, the State of Ohio now has claimed losses of $215 million dollars as a result of unsecured hedge fund transactions involving MDL Enterprises of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.3 It appears very likely that political contributions to both federal and state officeholders and candidates were channeled from these state funds.4 Mr. Noe himself was a Bush Pioneer who raise over $100,000 for the Bush campaign.5 Many political officials have recognized the impropriety of these contributions and thus have returned them, including Ohio Governor Bob Taft and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.6
As you are no doubt aware, under the Department’s regulations, you are required to appoint a special counsel when (1) a “criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted,” (2) the investigation “by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department,” and (3) “it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”7 There is little doubt that all three factors are met in the Noe case.
In this situation, a criminal investigation is clearly warranted and, as a matter of fact, the Department has initiated one. A grand jury has been seated in the Northern District of Ohio and has been deposing dozens of individuals who may have been involved in these illegal activities. Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been seizing computers, files, and assets of some of the individuals involved.
Second, there are myriad conflicts of interest for Department prosecutors to continue the investigation on their ow
n. To begin with, the United States Attorneys investigating the case, those for the Northern and Southern Districts for Ohio, both of whom were appointed by President Bush, would be in the untenable position of investigating a leading official of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. We now know that Mr. White has very close connections with the Governor’s office and the White House. In fact, recently released records show that Mr. White sought Governor Taft’s help in obtaining the U.S. Attorney position.8 The Governor’s Chief of Staff, Brian Hicks, apparently communicated with Karl Rove, then a counselor to the President, about Mr. White’s interest in the post.9 In an e-mail to Mr. Hicks, Mr. White wrote, “‘I believe that my record speaks for itself, and I doubt there are too many county chairs for the Bush campaign that worked harder.'”10 This is the same Brian Hicks who was convicted along with his executive assistant, Cherie Carroll for accepting gifts from Mr. Noe in violation of state law (both are now lobbyists).11 In assessing this prong of the regulations, the test for appointment of a special counsel does not rest on the prosecutor in question’s perceived reputation or the characterization of his reputation by others, regardless of their political stripe; it is based on whether the conflict of interest exists at all, which is clearly the case in the present instance.
In addition, on October 1, 2004, one month before the election, the Bush administration appointed Mr. Noe as Chair of the U.S. Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.12 Federal legislation was passed for the specific purpose of allowing Mr. Noe’s appointment.13 That legislation moved through the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, before which Mr. Noe had testified14 and to whose Members Mr. Noe had contributed financially. Mr. Noe resigned the U.S. Mint position on May 26, 2005,15 after the circumstances of the appointment were publicized in the media.
Finally, the appointment of a special counsel for this matter would undoubtedly serve the public interest. The allegations of improper conduct reach to the highest-possible levels of federal and state government and pertain to a serious corruption of our democratic system of government. The appointment of a special counsel would demonstrate to the American public the Department’s understanding of the importance of and need for impartiality in this case. Also, an investigation by a single special counsel would not be subject to any jurisdictional issues that may be present under the current scenario of two prosecutors. There is little question that high-ranking political officials nationally and at the state level were knowledgeable and involved in these activities. Many questions must be addressed involving the link between alleged illegal campaign contributions, diversion of State funds, their relation to 2005 elections, as well as the federal appointment of Mr. Noe to a federal advisory committee.
As a matter of fact, the numerous delays in the investigation have already raised the specter of political favoritism. From documents that have been made public, we know that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Gregory White, who is leading the federal investigation, had prior knowledge of the losses before the 2004 presidential election, as did the Governor of Ohio and other officials.16 At the same time, no investigation was initiated on these matters until spring of this year.17
The fact pattern present in this case, particularly with the new disclosure that the lead federal prosecutor may well have gotten his job as a result of a political appeal by Governor Taft’s office to Karl Rove, make it abundantly clear that a special counsel is necessitated. We urge you to make such a designation immediately to help restore public trust in this very important investigation.
We look forward to promptly hearing whether you will appoint a special counsel and, if not, the reason for your decision. Please reply through the House Judiciary Committee Minority Office, 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel 202-225-6504; fax: 202-225-4423).
John Conyers, Jr.