Trustee donations dirty higher ed.

The word cronyism has been thrown around a lot recently in national headlines – and for good reason.

The word was used when President Bush nominated his White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court.

Cronyism was also used to describe the Tom Noe coin scandal, where investigators noticed a series of suspicious transactions.

The transactions involved withdrawals from Noe’s personal business account to Republican candidates’ accounts.

Tom Noe’s name is again associated with cronyism, paired this time with the University’s Board of Trustees.

In 1991, recently elected Gov.George Voinovich appointed Noe – a faithful contributor – to the Board of Trustees.

Some say there were better qualified candidates at the time.

Legislators in Ohio’s House and Senate see this as a problem, and have recently introduced legislation to prevent apparent conflicts of interest from now on.

There are Tom Noes lurking in BGSU and other universitys’ futures, and that is something that higher education in this state will never benefit from.

This legislation would decrease the possibility of more instances of cronyism.

Chris Redfern – D-Catawba Island and chair of Ohio’s Democratic party – said Ohioans expect legislators “…to clean up the business of government.”

Those on the other side of the spectrum feel this type of legislation would limit free speech rights as granted in the First Amendment – if political donations are in fact an expression of these rights.

Given the number of accusations brought against Noe in the past year, it’s safe to say that his association with the University is certainly not something anyone here likes to brag about.

And in retrospect, the other candidates were better qualified.

The recently introduced legislation would help weed out all the potential candidates who’ve displayed the type of donator relationship with politicians that can make us question

their objectivity.

If it smells and looks like cronyism – it’s cronyism.

It has taken many in Ohio long enough to finally realize this, so now let’s all applaud – and embrace – the efforts of those in the Columbus Statehouse taking progressive action.

Congressmen like Dann and Redfern want to see university trustees always put the students first, and we’re with them every step of the way.