Posted on June 22, 2005

Forbes’ Role with Bureau, NAACP Questioned

James F. Sweeney, Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 22

While George Forbes sat on the board that oversees Ohio’s workers’ compensation investments, the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP he leads collected thousands in donations from firms investing the money.

For years, money-management firms in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago and elsewhere have bought full-page ads in pro grams for the NAACP’s annual fund-raiser dinner in Cleveland. Many of those firms, most of them minority-owned, were selected to invest hundreds of millions in Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation money.

From 1995 until recently, Forbes was a member of the bureau’s Oversight Commission, which monitored investments and approved companies with which the state would invest.

The Ohio Ethics Commission and the inspector general are investigating potential conflicts of interest on the oversight board.

Among the companies that did business with the bureau and also gave to the NAACP were MDL Capital Management, a Pittsburgh firm that lost $215 million in state money, and Vintage Coins and Collectibles. Vintage is owned by Tom Noe, a prominent Republican fund — raiser and donor from Toledo whose state-funded investments in rare coins and other collectibles are under investigation after Noe reported up to $13 million missing.

Forbes did not reply to repeated requests for an interview. He resigned from the Workers’ Compensation board this month after it was revealed that his daughter Mimi was hired by MDL.

Local NAACP officials declined to disclose how much cash has been raised from money-management firms or to discuss the chapter’s fund-raising practices.