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Published: Sunday, 10/22/2006

Conduits should give taxpayers a break

Are four of Tom Noe's campaign-money-laundering pals really trying to weasel out of repaying taxpayers? Hmpfh, must be.

Along comes Sally Perz to join her three fellow GOP convicted "conduits" in appealing a judge's order to pay their own investigation costs.

But first, the obligatory highlights reel.

Tom Noe (no explanation needed) couldn't shower money fast enough on Republican candidates, so he turned to buddies for help.

Four loyalists who graciously acquiesced were City Councilman Betty Shultz, county Commissioner Maggie Thurber, former Toledo Mayor and state commerce director Donna Owens, and former state Rep. Sally Perz.

When Noe gave them Bonus Bux, they "donated" the Monopoly money to the Bush campaign.

But, oops! Turns out you're not supposed to do that!

The state spent $16,500 on the money-laundering probe. And when Judge Mark Reddin sentenced the women (failure to disclose the "gifts," a misdemeanor) he ordered each to pay their roughly $4,000 share.

That was in June.

Reasonable minds might have assumed they'd already paid up.

But last week, the foursome challenged the judge's order that they settle their investigatory bar tab.

People who suffered through law school will have to figure out if the reversal of a state appeals court sentence also applies in this case.

I'd explain this technicality except, No. 1, it bores the snot out of me, and, No. 2, legal fine print notwithstanding, the defendants' argument is beside the point.

C'mon, Maggie! C'mon, Betty! C'mon, Donna! C'mon, Sally! C'mon, Blixen!

Give us a break - "us" being the citizens of Ohio. Are you kidding?!

The judge - who could have jailed your keisters for six months - only fined you each $1,000, court costs, and your respective share of the investigation.

And you're whining about it?

Each of you, members of the Party of Personal Responsibility, is now on record as eager to weasel out of accepting your court-ordered personal responsibility in this blatant case of campaign-finance lawbreaking.

The larger lesson taught by the Noe money-laundering scandal, of course, is the colossal and evidently widespread sense of entitlement felt by Ohio Republicans, whose apparent motto was: Oooh, We're Special!

You'd think the public smack-down of legal convictions would tamp that sentiment, but this court challenge suggests otherwise.

I'm not saying these four won't win their appeal. I'm not saying they will. I forgot to go to law school in this lifetime.

But if they win by sticking to the letter of the law, they still violate its spirit.

Put it this way, Maggie and Betty and Donna and Sally: If any of you were to run against yourself for elected office, you'd make a big hairy deal about this.

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