Friday, October 20, 2006

Senator Dann praises Ohio Elections Commission for refusing to dismiss Montgomery from complaint

State Senator Marc Dann, the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General, today praised the members of the Ohio Election Commission for allowing his complaint alleging that Tom Noe used a former employee to launder contributions to Betty Montgomery and other statewide officeholder and clients to go forward.

Senator Dann filed the complaint after reading a September 13th , Toledo Blade story in which former Noe employee Sue Metzger admitted that she passed $3,000 she received from Noe to a variety of state candidates, including then-GOP gubernatorial hopeful Betty Montgomery. Such contributions are a violation of Section 3517.13 (G) of the Ohio Revised Code and are punishable by a fine of $10,000 per incident. The complaint names Noe, Metzger, and the Betty Montgomery committee as defendants. Ms. Metzger testified in Noe's trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday and said Noe used the coin fund like an "ATM" whenever he needed money.

During a hearing held this morning, OEC members rejected a dismissal motion filed by attorneys for the Montgomery committee. Commission Vice Chair Willliam T. Booth and members William Ogg and William Mallory voted to reject the motion. Chair Catherine Cunningham and member Harry Shapiro voted in favor. Members Benjamin Marsh and Martin Parks have recused themselves from ruling on the case. At one point in the argument over whether or not the complaint filed against the Montgomery Committee should be dismissed, Mr. Booth pointed toward the Commission's witness chair and commented that anyone who had nothing to hide would be eager to sit there and that anyone with something to hide would resist.

After meeting with counsel for the Montgomery Committee and for Tom Noe, Attorney Richard Brunner who represents Senator Dann, agreed that he would not attempt to depose anyone other than Ms. Metzger before the November 7 th general election or the end of Noe's trial. He is permitted, however, to ask the parties to the complaint to produce documents. Those attending the hearing laughed quietly when Noe's attorney said his client was currently "occupied" and could not be deposed.

Senator Dann said he is glad the OEC decided to allow the case to progress. "At this moment we have no idea how many people may have passed money from Noe to state candidates or other entities, how much money may have been contributed, or who may have known that the law was being broken," Senator Dann said. "The investigation should provide the answer to all those questions—and they are answers the people of this state who expect their elected officials to obey and enforce the law—deserve."

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