The Ohio state Supreme Court on Wednesday publicly reprimanded Gov. Bob Taft for his ethics violations in office, a black mark that will stay on his permanent record as an attorney.
Taft, a Republican and great-grandson of President William Howard Taft, pleaded no contest in 2005 to failing to report golf outings and other gifts and was fined $4,000. He could not seek re-election because of term limits and leaves office in less than two weeks.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an arm of the state Supreme Court, said in April that Taft violated Ohio's code of professional conduct for lawyers, and Taft later signed an agreement admitting the violation.
The justices agreed by a vote of 6-0 Wednesday with a recommendation from the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline to issue the public reprimand. The court could have rejected the recommendation or ordered a stronger punishment.
Taft, whose law license has been on inactive status since 2002, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
The charges against Taft stemmed from his failure to report 52 gifts worth nearly $6,000 that he received over four years while in office.
The case spiraled off a scandal in which a Republican fundraiser was convicted of stealing from a $50 million state investment in rare coins, which contributed to the Republican Party's loss of the governor's office on Election Day.
Taft never considered resigning, although he had previously forced out several staff members for improperly accepting gifts.
The high court said the governor was guilty of an oversight, noting there was no evidence that he had purposely tried to hide the gifts. It also said there was no evidence that any of the gifts were given as bribes.
Taft "conceded this ethical lapse and acknowledged in his public apology his personal failure to maintain the standards of integrity to which all public officials must adhere," the court's ruling said.
On the Net: