Know Noe? No No!

April 3rd, 2006 by

Although the country is in the middle of an emotional and compelling debate on immigration, the Insider returns to the amazing and appalling case of Tom Noe, the ubiquitous Ohio coin dealer whose name has disappeared from the address books of powerful people near the Great Lakes and the Potomac River. Toledo Blade reporters James Drew and Steve Eder have been doing a great job keeping track of this ongoing saga, which now shifts to the nation’s capital. We will return to the immigration issue soon. (If you can’t wait, the latest developments, along with concise analysis, can be found at Peter Rousmaniere’s working immigrant blog.)
Noe parlayed his formidable fund raising activities into the chairmanship of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, where he helped guide the U. S. Mint toward issuing its first 24-karat, .9999 pure gold investment coin. There are those who believe that if the scandal had not erupted, he may have ended up directing the U. S. Mint. I wonder whose faces would have appeared on Noe-era coins…I’m sure that these “No-eez” would have made awesome collectibles!
In D.C., Noe set up the “Noe Supper Club,” a group of high-ranking government officials who gathered for dinners at Morton’s Steakhouse, where the tab was grabbed, needless to say, by Mr. Noe. (The Insider appreciates the name of the club, as it contains the kind of built in deniability that politicians relish: “There was no supper club, as far as I know.”)
In cultivating his Washington contacts, Noe communicated through effusive emails, this one directed to Madelyn Simmons Marchessault, the U. S. Mint’s director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs: “Wow, you are GOOD,” he wrote in December of 2004. Listing his home phone numbers from Lake Erie to the Florida Keys, he added: “If you can’t find me now…I don’t exist!!!!”
Well, Tom, as a matter of fact, you don’t exist!!! The passionate friendships, cultivated, we assume, with the millions pilfered from the Workers Comp fund in Ohio, have abruptly disappeared. Ohio’s governor and three others have already pled guilty to accepting inappropriate gifts. We suspect that the federal inquiry might find some problems with Noe’s largesse in the Nation’s capital.
This dreary tale of corruption undoubtedly contains lessons for us all. Knowing what is known now, officials in Ohio and Washington would say “no way” to the Noe way. Alas, it’s a bit too late for that.