Court orders governor to provide contested records for review

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
The Associated Press
June 13, 2006


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Gov. Bob Taft to hand over a series of contested documents regarding the troubled state insurance fund for injured workers for the court to review and decide whether to release publicly.

The ruling was a partial victory for state Sen. Marc Dann of Youngstown who is suing Taft for access to documents related to unorthodox rare-coin investments by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Dann, a Democrat running for attorney general, argues that his case would be weakened if he isn't allowed to see the records, mostly weekly reports that Taft aides gave the governor.

The court ruled April 13 that Taft had a limited right to keep the public from viewing certain records sought as part of a bureau investment scandal.

Looking at the documents privately "will enable the court to verify the identity and contents of the disputed records," Chief Justice Thomas Moyer wrote. In turn, that will help the court decide whether Dann met a legal burden proving he has a right to the documents.

Taft says he has already released reports about the insurance fund and that the remaining reports contain sensitive business information unrelated to workers' comp. Spokesman Mark Rickel said Tuesday the governor would follow the court's order and turn over the documents for court review.

Dann called the ruling a victory for Ohio residents and again urged Taft to release the documents publicly.

The scandal over the $50 million coin investment has shaken the state's Republican-dominated government. A former top official with the fund pleaded guilty last week to taking bribes from people who wanted to handle fund investments.

A prominent GOP donor is awaiting trial on charges alleging he embezzled more than $1 million from the fund. Taft himself pleaded no contest to ethics charges for failing to report gifts.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press



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