Patsy Cervetto had a hard time digesting the news that Gov. Bob Taft had been criminally charged with violating state ethics laws.
Standing outside Fifth Third Field before last night's Toledo Mud Hens game, the East Toledo woman sighed deeply when asked about allegations that the two-term Republican governor failed to report receiving nearly $6,000 in golf games, meals, and professional sports tickets from 2001 to 2004.
"I'm shocked by that," she said. "I didn't expect that from him. I expected more of him."
Mr. Taft yesterday became the first Ohio governor to be charged with a crime when prosecutors filed four misdemeanor counts against him in Franklin County Municipal Court.
A spokesman for Mr. Taft said he has no plans to resign, and despite her disappointment with the governor, Ms. Cervetto doesn't want him to quit either. "I don't think that's necessary," she said. "We're all human. I think he's done a good job."
Other fans arriving for the Hens' game against the Norfolk Tides weren't so forgiving.
"I'm pretty apathetic about politics in general because stuff like this seems so common," said Michelle Achor of West Toledo. "Do I think he should resign from office? Yeah, but I feel that way about most politicians."
Ms. Achor's friend Vern Whitt agreed that it's time for Mr. Taft to go. "If he's spending state money for luxury things, then obviously his priorities aren't for the public," he said.
Prosecutors said Mr. Taft failed to disclose 47 golf outings and five other events on his ethics forms. State law requires public officials to list each source of gifts over $75.
The investigation into the gifts and the resulting charges grew out of a scandal involving the state's $50 million investment in rare coins with GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe. The Toledo-area coin dealer and his wife, Bernadette, gave $200,000 to GOP candidates over several years.
Two of Mr. Taft's former aides, Brian Hicks and Cherie Carroll, were convicted last month of misdemeanor charges for failing to report gifts from Mr. Noe.
James Brighton, a retired Jeep worker from East Toledo, said the scandal has soured him on the state's leadership.
"People are losing trust in the government lately," Mr. Brighton said. "Democracy is based on the blood, sweat, and tears of the working man."
Doug Strausbaugh of Perrysburg Township said the governor has failed to meet the same ethical standards he demanded from other state officials.
"I believe there were people let go in his administration for doing the very same thing, so I think it's kind of hypocritical," Mr. Strausbaugh said.
Among those officials were Gino Zomparelli, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, and Rick Frenette, general manager of the Ohio Exposition Center. Both quit after inspector general's reports found they received sports tickets and other gifts from firms doing business with their agencies.
Mr. Strausbaugh's wife, Angie, argued that Mr. Taft's alleged ethical lapses had been blown out of proportion.
"Who cares if he went golfing with somebody?" she said. "I think that kind of thing happens all the time with sales reps."
"They're not in public office," Mr. Strausbaugh replied. Asked if Mr. Taft should resign, he answered, "I think once everything's investigated, if he's found guilty, maybe."
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