Coin Dealer Wants Retraction From Taft

A Toledo-area coin dealer wants Gov. Bob Taft (search) to take back a statement the governor made implying the dealer tried to hide his involvement with a scandal-plagued state investment, the dealer's lawyer said Saturday.

Tom Noe (search), a prominent Republican fundraiser who managed a $50 million investment in rare coins for the state's fund for injured workers, tried to reach the governor by phone and e-mail Saturday, said William Wilkinson, his attorney.

"It's Mr. Noe's hope that the governor will simply correct the statement he made about Mr. Noe's supposed concealment of the coin funds," Wilkinson said.

Taft is out of town and has not spoken to Noe recently, said Mark Rickel, the governor's spokesman.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Taft said Noe "made a great effort to conceal" his role in managing the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (search) investments.

The comments came the same day Taft pleaded no contest to misdemeanor ethics violations for not reporting that he was treated to dozens of golf outings. The governor apologized to the state but said he would not step down.

Wilkinson said Noe discussed the investments with Taft at a meeting in Toledo in May 2001 and has disclosed the investments on public ethics commission filings since 2003.

Taft maintained this week that he did not know of the investments until reading newspaper reports about them in April of this year.

"We don't understand why five months later Tom Noe is challenging the governor's statement," Rickel said.

Noe has acknowledged that up to $13 million is missing from the rare coins fund, and Attorney General Jim Petro has accused him of stealing as much as $4 million.