Sunday, October 22, 2006

Marc Dann Press Release: On Knowing Noe

Montgomery’s denial of Noe friendship raises issues of credibility and trust, account of birthday roast video provides more proof of ties to confessed federal felon and Coingate mastermind

In January of 2005, when Emcee Tom Noe smiled and glowingly introduced “Another old friend from Northwest Ohio, State Auditor Betty Montgomery,” during Judith Lanzinger’s Supreme Court swearing-in ceremony, did Montgomery hide her head in shame, slump in her chair, or say “I’ve never met this guy in my life.”?

No. As video footage shows, she stood up, smiled at her buddy and long-time campaign contributor, waved at him, and sat back down—in the front row.

That warm interaction occurred just a few short months before it became known that Noe, who has contributed thousands of dollars to Montgomery’s campaigns, had illegally laundered contributions into George Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign and allegedly stolen millions from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

So what does Ms. Montgomery say now that her relationship with Noe and her failure to detect the rare coin scam he was operating have raised serious problems for her campaign? She tells everyone from a reporter for the ABC affiliate in Toledo to newspaper editorial boards that she didn’t know him on a personal level and that their relationship was “professional” or “political” in nature.

Which raises the question: In what professional capacity was she acting when she headlined a roast marking Noe’s 50th birthday? A roast during which, according to an affidavit signed by Brian Rothenberg who was shown a video of the event by an attorney representing Bernadette Noe, she regaled the crowd with stories about her friend Tom’s childhood, recounted her college days with his sister Beth, acknowledged his importance to Ohio, and engaged in “genial banter” with him as she spoke.

Good question. In a written statement submitted to The Toledo Blade that appeared in a story about the video, her campaign said: "Betty has never been a social friend of Tom and Bernadette Noe, but they were political acquaintances and worked with them and other northwest Ohio Republican leaders to elect Republican candidates.”

Oh really? If that were the case, why would Ms. Montgomery have been asked to speak at the event—and why would she have accepted?

The fact is that ample evidence exists of Ms. Montgomery’s close ties to Noe—evidence that she can neither hide nor deny. That, of course, hasn’t stopped her from trying to minimize or mischaracterize those ties for the past 18 months.

All of which raises one more question: how credible and trustworthy is someone who turns their back on a friend and supporter who played an important role in her political success because she is afraid that the truth may cost her votes?

That’s an answer the voters will supply on November 7th. Until then, it’s important to note that Ms. Montgomery would be much more credible if she had simply told the truth about her friendship with Noe and expressed her disappointment at what he had done.

Finally, in reviewing many of the statements she’s made in the print and electronic media about her relationship with Noe, she did make one statement that is indisputably true: she told a reporter from the ABC affiliate in Toledo that “Coingate” was the result of a “massive failure of oversight” by state officials. She, of course, did not include her own failure to detect her friend’s misdeeds as one of those failures. Sometimes the truth, no matter how obvious, just hurts too much.

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