-- President Bush is returning $4,000 in campaign contributions from an Ohio coin dealer who is the subject of state and federal investigations, the White House said Friday.
Tom Noe, who is from suburban Toledo, is under investigation for his handling of $55 million the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation gave to him to invest in rare coins. Noe's attorney has reported that $10 million to $12 million is missing.
"I think that there are some serious allegations that have been raised against this individual," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said here while Bush spent time at his ranch. "And the president felt it was the right thing to return those contributions that came directly from him."
Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said Thursday that the $2,000 donated by Noe to the RNC will be given to charity. McLear added that Bush has no plans to return more than $100,000 Noe raised for the Bush-Cheney campaign last year. "Those are from other individuals," McClellan said. "In the past, I think, the campaign . . . has returned contributions from individuals that maybe have been convicted of crimes, and so forth."
Top Ohio Republican officials, including Gov. Bob Taft and Sen. Mike DeWine, also said they were giving up contributions from Noe totaling nearly $60,000. Many of the officials designated charities or a workers' compensation fund to receive the money.
Meanwhile, a former Taft aide has told federal authorities that he gave $2,000 to Bush's campaign at the urging of Noe and was reimbursed by the coin dealer. H. Douglas Talbott appeared this week before a federal grand jury in Toledo looking into whether Noe, who headed the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio, skirted campaign finance laws by giving others money to donate, according to a report published Friday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.