With the clamor over Bobby Kennedy’s article in Rolling Stone, that has thankfully re-ignited interest in the theft of the 2004 election, I want to make sure that certain people aren’t airbrushed out of the picture. This important grassroots history was left out of the article.
First, let me make it clear that the original Kennedy article included specific references to the Free Press (the paper and website I publish) and my good friend Harvey Wasserman. Harvey and I wrote a piece prior to the 2004 election outlining how Bush was planning to steal the vote. Most of the evidence turned up about Ohio was a result of public hearings about election irregularities held on November 13 and 15, 2004 in Columbus, Ohio under the auspices of the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism/Free Press. The co-sponsors of the hearings included: the Alliance for Democracy, CASE-Ohio, and the League of Pissed Off Voters. Cliff Arnebeck of the Alliance and Susan Truitt of CASE played key roles in the hearings and were two of the four lawyers who challenged the election results in Ohio. Amy Fay Kaplan and Jonathan Meier of the League were invaluable in organizing the public hearings where sworn testimony was taken.
The election challenge team also included the tireless Pete Peckarsky and myself. The Rev. Bill Moss and his wife Ruth courageously served as the lead plaintiffs in the Moss v. Bush challenge. Benson Wolman and Susan Gellman graciously lent their office and pro bono assistance to allow the challenge to go forward. But the media wasn’t really covering the theft until the arrival of Rev. Jesse Jackson. His appearance in Columbus forced the national media to focus on the racist nature of the voter suppression in Ohio. Also, with his ally Congressman John Conyers, Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee held a historic forum covered by C-SPAN on voting irregularities in Ohio on Dec. 8, 2004. Jackson played a key role in lobbying for the challenge to Ohio’s votes in Congress on January 6, 2005 by Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Barbara Boxer. Tubbs Jones really displayed unprecedented courage for an Ohio politician and history will reward and record her efforts. Jackson’s role as the catalyst is usually overlooked, but for those of us in Ohio, he is the real hero.
Investigative reporter Greg Palast wrote one of the very first non-Free Press reports about the theft and raced into Ohio on Dec. 4, 2004 to speak and urge voting rights activists to fight back. That same night Rep. Barbara Lee of Texas became the first Congressional representative to come into Ohio. Rep. John Conyers would later hold a forum at the Columbus City Hall.
Steve Rosenfeld, Air America producer, in many ways was the first electronic media representative to take the story seriously and it was his efforts through the Laura Flanders Show that helped raise money for the election challenge. He also began to write fulltime for the all-volunteer Free Press when our meager staff was overwhelmed. See the freepress.org Election Coverage section: https://freepress.org/departments/display/19
Steve was also instrumental as the co-editor of the first book of documents the CICJ Books published detailing the election theft, Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? Essential Documents. Wasserman and I were the other editors. Harvey and I also co-wrote a digest of the Documents book entitled How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008.
Other major players we should mention are Dr. Richard “Purple” Hayes Phillips, Dr. Ronald Baiman and Dr. Werner Lange who all served as expert witnesses and also produced much of the early evidence of the theft of votes – Hayes and Baiman continue their ongoing work for the Free Press; Cynthia Butler, helped on the lawsuit and election challenge; Judith Powell, a local Black activist, was essential in organizing the hearings; Paddy Shaffer continues to help with investigations and events; Kat L’Estrange and Sheri Myers organized the Winter Freedom bus tour; and there’s many other people to acknowledge. Journalists like Christopher Hitchens and Mark Crispin Miller wrote about the 2004 Ohio election while it was still being blacked out by the mainstream media.
Finally, we would be remiss without mentioning two key people who warned us early on about the coming theft in Ohio: Bev Harris of Black Box Voting and the late Athan Gibbs of TruVote who warned about the dangers of the privatized corporate control of the voting process.
To all of the grassroots people I’ve left out, you are in my book and in my memory. See the Documents book for a comprehensive list.
Special thanks to Bobby Kennedy and Rolling Stone for their provocative and much-needed article!