Ohio’s Gov. charged with taking gifts

Ohio's Gov. Bob Taft was charged with four ethics violations Wednesday for failing to report dozens of gifts that included dinners, golf games and professional hockey tickets, deepening a scandal that has rocked Ohio's Republican Party.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft (R) faces a possible $1,000 fine on each count for not filing reports on at least 60 golf games paid for by others. Those games are considered gifts under Ohio law and must be disclosed.

When questioned about golf matches in the past, Ehrlich's aides have said the governor pays his own greens fees on the advice of the State Ethics Commission, Washington Post reports.

Common Cause Executive Director James Browning said there is no suggestion that Ehrlich violated any Maryland law, but the Ohio episode is a reminder that fairways and greens can be a haven for the elite to lobby politicians in private.

"It's important to know who plays with [Ehrlich] and who pays for it," Browning said. "Otherwise, there's the potential for lobbying in secret."

Taft will respond publicly on Thursday and is not planning to resign, spokesman Mark Rickel said. Prosecutors said they expected the governor to appear in court Thursday but declined to say whether a plea agreement was in the works, AP informs.

The gifts were worth about $5,800 and given over four years, prosecutors said. Taft earlier had revealed that he failed to report some outings but said the omissions were accidental.

Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said the gifts included two golf outings worth $100 each paid for by embattled coin dealer Tom Noe. Noe is a Republican fundraiser whose $50 million investment of state money in rare coins launched the scandal that led to Taft's revelation that he failed to list golf outings on financial disclosure forms.

State law requires officeholders to report all gifts worth more than $75 if the donor wasn't reimbursed.

O'Brien said the gifts also included meals and tickets for a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game.

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