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Published: Monday, 8/29/2005

Hundreds of Ohioans call for governor to step down

BY STEVE EDER
AND JAMES DREW
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

COLUMBUS - Hundreds of Ohioans who believe Gov. Bob Taft must step down in light of his criminal convictions are letting him know.

The governor's office has received about 650 phone calls, e-mails, and letters from constituents asking Mr. Taft to resign since his day in court on Aug. 18.

More than 250 people have contacted Mr. Taft's office to voice their support for the embattled governor.

Despite the calls for his resignation, Mr. Taft has said repeatedly that he has no plans to leave office.

Mr. Taft became Ohio's first governor to be criminally convicted after he pleaded no contest to four first-degree misdemeanors for failing to report dozens of golf outings and gifts that he received.

On Thursday, Mr. Taft's office acknowledged that he had failed to report eight additional gifts valued above $75 on his ethics forms. Those omissions are being forwarded to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Mr. Taft's administration has been embroiled in a scandal centered around the state's failed $50 million rare-coin investment with Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe.

Mark Rickel, a spokesman for Mr. Taft, said the governor was greeted favorably as he made stops across the state last week for a number of events.

Mr. Rickel said the volume of contacts to the governor's office, which were tallied through Thursday, do not provide a "scientific breakdown" of how Ohioans feel about Mr. Taft.

"It helps you tell what is going on out there, but not necessarily the mood of the state," Mr. Rickel said.

In total, of the 918 people who contacted the governor, about 75 percent said he should step down.

Of the 734 who contacted him by e-mail, letter, or fax, more than 75 percent encouraged the governor to resign. About 60 percent of the 184 people who phoned in supported the governor.

In addition to the constituent calls, Mr. Taft is also facing pressure from lawmakers and grassroots organizations to leave office.

Also on Thursday, a pair of activist groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum announced a joint campaign to oust the governor.

The nonprofit organizations, Ohio Roundtable and Ohio Citizen Action, launched the Web site, Moveontaft.org.



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