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Bush campaign fund-raiser indicted
October 27, 2005

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A prominent Republican fund-raiser for President George W. Bush in Ohio has been charged with illegally funneling money to Bush's re-election campaign, a federal prosecutor said on Thursday.

A federal grand jury in Toledo charged Thomas Noe with making illegal contributions in the names of others to the Bush campaign and with making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

The three counts lodged against Noe each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine.

A separate investigation is examining a money-losing investment in rare coins Noe made for the state of Ohio.

The indictment alleged Noe had pledged to raise $50,000 for a fund-raiser for the Bush campaign held in Ohio on October 30, 2003. Tickets to the event cost $2,000 each. It said Noe disguised $45,400 in personal contributions by recruiting and providing money to 24 friends and associates who made the contributions in their names so he could avoid the individual campaign contribution limit of $2,000.

In some cases, Noe's reimbursements to contributors differed just slightly from the amount provided to the campaign to try to disguise their purpose, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Gregory White, who announced the indictment.

Noe's lawyer, William Wilkinson, said he had not seen the indictment and could not comment.

The 2003 event raised $1.4 million for the Bush campaign. In 2004, Bush won Ohio by more than 100,000 votes over Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, and the state was decisive in Bush's re-election.

Bush and at least 17 elected Ohio officials, including Republican Gov. Bob Taft and both the state's U.S. senators, returned campaign contributions from Noe when irregularities were revealed in newspaper articles earlier this year. The Bush campaign returned $4,000, while Taft gave back more than $22,000.

Another state grand jury is looking into Noe's $50 million investment in rare coins on behalf of Ohio's Bureau of Worker's Compensation. Noe, a coin dealer from Maumee, Ohio, has said up to $13 million is missing from the investment, and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has accused Noe of stealing at least $4 million of it.

In August, Taft pleaded guilty to ethics violations and agreed to pay a $4,000 fine for unreported gifts and golf outings. Noe paid for at least one of the golf outings.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

I'm listing this as an impeachable offense because Bush/Cheney received at least $45,400 from Noe that was illegal and returned only $4,000. Whomever said "crime doesn't pay" didn't know how the Bush White House works.