Saturday, June 04, 2005

Bush Returning Funds From Coin Dealer
Bush Returning Funds From Coin Dealer

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- President Bush is returning $4,000 in campaign contributions from an Ohio coin dealer who is the subject of state and federal investigations, the White House said Friday.

Tom Noe, who is from suburban Toledo, is under investigation for his handling of $55 million the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation gave to him to invest in rare coins. Noe's lawyer has reported that $10 million to $12 million is missing.

"I think that there are some serious allegations that have been raised against this individual," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in Texas while Bush spent time at his ranch.

"They have raised concerns with people in Ohio. They have raised concerns with the White House. And the president felt it was the right thing to return those contributions that came directly from him," McClellan said.

Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said Thursday that the $2,000 donated by Noe to the RNC will be given to charity. McLear added that Bush has no immediate plans to return more than $100,000 Noe raised for the Bush-Cheney campaign last year.

"Those are from other individuals," McClellan said. "In the past, I think, the campaign - if you'll go back and look - has returned contributions from individuals that maybe have been convicted of crimes, and so forth."

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, three other statewide officeholders, several House lawmakers and Sen. Mike DeWine also said they were giving up campaign contributions from Noe totaling nearly $60,000. Many of the officials designated charities or a workers' compensation fund to receive the money.

Meanwhile, a former governor's aide has told federal authorities that he gave $2,000 to Bush's re-election campaign at the urging of Noe and was later reimbursed by the coin dealer, a newspaper reported Friday.

H. Douglas Talbott appeared this week before a federal grand jury in Toledo that is looking into whether Noe, who headed the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio, skirted campaign finance laws by giving others money to donate, according to a report published in The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

Noe also contributed $10,000 to a fund supporting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's legislative priorities. "Allegations about Mr. Noe became public a year after we accepted his contribution," Marty Wilson, executive director of the fund, said Friday, and Schwarzenegger has no plans to return the donation.