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Published: Thursday, 3/21/2002

GOP bigwigs huddle amid funding flap


COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft was expected to meet last night with the Republican Party leaders of Ohio's 20 urban counties in what was being billed as a campaign-update session.

The fund-raising controversy over the Hamilton County GOP's solicitation of $50,000 from jailed Cleveland broker Frank Gruttadauria wasn't on the agenda, but it wasn't expected to be far from the minds of those in attendance. Mr. Gruttadauria is accused to bilking hundred of millions from his clients' accounts.

“This is sure to be wide-ranging discussion,” said Taft campaign spokesman Mark Weaver.

A $50,000 check from Mr. Gruttadauria went into a party operating fund for which donors are not subject to public disclosure. State Treasurer Joe Deters, with whom Mr. Gruttadauria's firm was doing business, has been the biggest individual beneficiary of the county party's campaign contributions.Mary Boyle, Democratic candidate for Mr. Deters' job, has questioned whether a link between the two existed.

Mr. Deters has denied any such link. He and other GOP statewide candidates were expected to attend last night's meeting.

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