COLUMBUS - Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery rented the Lakeside, Ohio, vacation home that a former high-ranking aide to Gov. Bob Taft bought with Tom Noe's help.
But two aides to Ms. Montgomery said she didn't know about the $39,000 payment from Mr. Noe to lobbyist H. Douglas Talbott - and that Mr. Noe played no role in setting up the rental in August, 2003.
The Blade reported yesterday that Mr. Talbott said he accepted $39,000 as a "loan" from Mr. Noe in September, 2002, to help buy a house in Lakeside for $213,000.
Ms. Montgomery, a former Wood County prosecutor who served two terms as attorney general before winning the auditor's race in 2002, didn't disclose the stay at Mr. Talbott's Lakeside house on her annual ethics statement because it was not a gift, said Jen Detwiler, a spokesman for Ms. Montgomery.
Ms. Montgomery provided The Blade last night with a copy of a check she wrote to Mr. Talbott for $750 and a hand-written note that she and her family arrived Monday night and left Sunday morning - five days and six nights. She also enclosed a flyer about Mr. Talbott's vacation home, which said it rented for $1,000 a week.
Ms. Montgomery contacted Mr. Talbott about renting his home after her family made late vacation plans and "had a hard time finding a place to rent," Ms. Detwiler said.
Mark Weaver, a political consultant to Ms. Montgomery, said Ms. Montgomery, her father, and several family members stayed at Mr. Talbott's home.
Asked if it was a real or perceived conflict of interest for Ms. Montgomery to rent a home owned by a lobbyist, Ms. Detwiler said Mr. Talbott never had clients seeking business with the auditor's office or the attorney general's office.
Ms. Montgomery refunded $8,150 from Mr. Noe and his wife, Bernadette, dating to the early 1990s.