The Columbus Dispatch shed some light on the bipartisan nature of corruption at county boards of elections. Democrat and former Deputy Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections Michael R. Hackett is working with SST Systems, a New Albany company that supplied storage carts for voting machines. The Dispatch describes Franklin County BOE Director, Republican Matt Damschroder, as a “close friend of Hackett’s.” Damschroder, who has become legendary for his blunders, incorrectly informed the Franklin County election board that he had “…consulted with the county prosecutor and there are no conflicts of interest” in regards to Hackett moving from his position on the BOE to working for a voting machine cart vendor.
One might wonder why the Republican director and Democratic co-director are so cozy. Under Ohio law, the Democrats and Republicans completely control the county boards of elections. They set the rules, they cover up for each other. When Damschroder forgot to put out 124 voting machines during the 2004 election, all of them in Columbus, it was Democratic Party Chair and Chair of the Franklin County BOE Bill Anthony who rushed to Damschroder’s defense, even after Damschroder had sworn that there were no machines available. They later modified it to say 75 were in the warehouse or riding around on a truck somewhere. Hackett also defended Damschroder’s actions.
Hackett’s wife Mary was a 1/3 partner in SST, a company incorporated in January 2005. According to the Dispatch, Hackett became a partner with the SST owners by forming an affiliate company of SST. As Hackett moved off the board in late 2005, his wife was hired as a $64,000 election official and announced she had severed her ties with SST. It’s all a happy little family affair. Not only in reality with the Hacketts, but with the other party hacks that scratch each other’s backs at the board of elections. All of the board members and directors are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of Ken Hackwell under Ohio law. They all get paid real well for going with the flow.
What we need in Ohio are nonpartisan, professional boards of elections with high ethical standards.