Court Orders Ohio Governor to Provide Insurance Fund Records

June 14, 2006

The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered Gov. Bob Taft to hand over documents related to the state’s troubled insurance fund for injured workers so it could decide whether to make them public.

The ruling was a partial victory for state Sen. Marc Dann, a candidate for state attorney general who is suing Taft for access to documents related to unorthodox rare-coin investments by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

The court ruled April 14 that Taft had a limited right to keep the public from viewing certain records in the case. It said Tuesday it would review the documents to decide whether Dann met a legal burden proving he has a right to the documents.

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.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel said the governor would follow the court’s order.

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

Taft has said he already released reports about the insurance fund and that the remaining reports contain sensitive business information unrelated to workers’ comp.

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