HR Strange But True!
May 13, 2005

You don't normally associate workers' compensation with rare coins - unless you're the state of Ohio.

In a series of articles this spring, the Toledo Blade has detailed the investment of more than $50 million in rare coin funds by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. What really got the newspaper's attention, however, was the man controlling those funds: Tom Noe, a prominent Republican fund-raiser in the Toledo area.

The Blade noted that the investments, which began in 1998, continued despite strong concerns raised by a Bureau auditor, who said there might be conflicts of interest and inadequate protection of the state's investment. At first, state officials dismissed the Blade's articles, insisting that politics played no role in the deal. They also claimed the investments had produced a profit of $13.2 million.

"The bottom line is: Is it making money for the state? And it was. He was making money for the state," Gov. Bob Taft, the recipient of $11,000 in campaign funds from Noe, told the Blade. "What's the problem?"

Funny he should ask. The Blade subsequently reported that 121 rare coins bought with Ohio money were missing and possibly stolen in Colorado. Noe learned of their disappearance a year ago and fired the manager suspected of the theft. But he never notified state officials--they learned about the missing coins from Blade reporters.

On Monday, the day after the newspaper reported on the disappearance, the head of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation announced that the agency was dissolving its investment. "While the investment has been profitable, its future prospects are uncertain in light of questions that have been raised with respect to its management," he said.

Source: Toledo Blade

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