August 18, 2005

Ohio governor fined but avoids jail on ethics charges

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio Republican Gov. Bob Taft,
the great-grandson of a U.S. president, was found guilty on
Thursday of violating ethics laws for not disclosing free golf
outings and other gifts and was fined $4,000 but avoided jail

"I accept full responsibility for this mistake. I am very
sorry. I am very sorry, thank you for the opportunity," Taft
said in a brief statement in Franklin County Municipal Court
after pleading no contest to four criminal misdemeanor ethics
violations. That plea allowed the judge to find him guilty.

Taft, 63, has previously accepted responsibility for the
reporting lapses but insisted he would not resign before his
second and final term is up in January 2007.

Found guilty by Judge Mark Froehlich, he could have faced
up to six months in jail on each of the four counts, but a plea
agreement reached with prosecutors that Taft signed in court
limited his punishment to the fine.

The scion of a legendary political family whose
great-grandfather was William Howard Taft, the 27th president,
Taft is the first Ohio governor to face criminal charges.

Taft's approval ratings among Ohio voters have sunk amid
revelations of cronyism in state government, and the charges
against him grew out of investigations of an investment scandal
involving rare coin dealer and Republican fundraiser Thomas

The scandals are seen as a threat to Republican domination
of all of Ohio's statewide offices and control of the