Podcast of
Bob Fitrakis on “Fight Back” this week:
Bob and guest Cliff Arnebeck
Discussing the new court filing revealing how the 2004 election was stolen and the apparatus is still in place right column, look for 07/27 date
Based on
“New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked” article on

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
January 10, 2011

An epic legal battle now rages between Karl Rove and Ohio election rights attorneys. The question is whether the public has the right to see full transcripts of a court deposition that could shed explosive new light on the bitterly contested presidential election of 2004.

The deposition came from the late Michael Connell, Rove’s IT guru. Connell died in a mysterious plan crash in December 2008, one month after he spoke under oath to election protection attorney Clifford O. Arnebeck. Connell had implanted the state-contracted software used to compute Ohio’s electronic voting tabulations during the contest between Bush and John Kerry.

On December 10, 2010, attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville Neighborhood Association case moved to release the Connell transcript in an ongoing legal struggle with Rove and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The King-Lincoln case was filed in 2006 by attorney Arnebeck alleging civil rights violations against blacks, young voters and others in Ohio’s 2004 election process.

Connell’s November 3, 2008 deposition in Cleveland concerned his role in the 2004 election and whether or not he was being threatened by Rove. Just over a month later on December 19, 2008, Connell died in the mysterious crash of his small plane near his Akron, Ohio, home. Suspicions of foul play surround the accident.

The Connell deposition has been sealed since his death. During the closing days of the 2010 election, King-Lincoln attorneys sought the deposition of Karl Rove in connection with his activities involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in all Ohio elections since 2000.

Rove and Chamber attorneys, as well as the Ohio Attorney General’s office, claimed that there was no connection between Connell’s deposition and more recent activities involving Rove and the Chamber.

Connell’s attorney, James L. Ervin, represented Connell at the deposition and also represented Connell’s estate. He filed papers with the court asking for a 30-day extension of time to file a response to the court on December 27, 2010 regarding the opening of Connell’s deposition.

According to Ervin, “Mr. Connell’s deposition is comprised of questions, answers, and topics that are privileged and/or confidential and are reflected as such by being designated ‘sealed.'” No part of Connell’s deposition has of yet been made public.

Arnebeck told how Connell described what he did: “One, he integrated voter data files with the vote tabulation process in the Ohio Secretary of State’s office in the 2004 election and two, he broadened the accessibility to this information, including facilitating its appearance on a mirror site at the SmartTech offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee.”

“His testimony provided facts of a general nature. He did not, as suggested by his counsel, reveal or discuss anything that could be fairly described as a trade secret or an expert opinion,” Arnebeck asserted.

In the spring and summer prior to Connell’s deposition, contacts were made on behalf of Connell with both U.S. Representatives John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich in an attempt to have Connell testify before Congress regarding his role in the 2004 election.

Memorandum to U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich [PDF]

Ervin’s motion before the court states: “During calendar year 2009, Mr. Connell’s businesses, New Media Communications and GovTech Solutions, came under new ownership, and Mr. Connell’s Estate was probated.”

These pleadings before the court may offer insight into who exactly owns Connell’s election computer businesses. Ervin’s motion states: “because the deposition transcript addresses issues that constituted privilege and/or proprietary matters, the new ownership of Connell’s former businesses may have an interest in the deposition transcripts and may be the owners of the transcript.”

Ervin concludes “Decisions must be made as to who owns Mr. Connell’s 2008 deposition transcript….” This same line of argument has been used to allow private vendors to use secret proprietary source code in election software.

In a democratic society, the people should own Connell’s deposition. Karl Rove should testify under oath about the electronic machinery Connell devised to link Ohio’s 2004 real-time vote count to an obscure company in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That company was SmarTech, which according to public records, was hosting a website that was operating out of the White House on that election night.

Says Arnebeck: “Mr. Connell’s testimony is important to the plaintiffs and the public because it reveals how those seeking to steal the 2004 Presidential election in the State of Ohio, led by Karl Rove, were better able to do so through the utilization of these integrated data files and more accessible tabulation processes. SmarTech was simultaneously serving the electronic data processes for the George W. Bush presidential campaign in that election.”

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s four books on election protection are at, where this article was first published. Disclosure: Fitrakis serves as co-counsel with Arnebeck in the King-Lincoln case and was at Connell’s deposition.

Original article posted here:

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 29, 2010

Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck has filed a two-count complaint against The Partnership for Ohio’s Future, an affiliate of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Arnebeck charges that the Partnership is “…not truly independent, but rather has been coordinated with the Republican candidates, their agents, committees, parties and their de facto coordinated national campaign being directed by Karl Rove.”

He also charges that when the Partnership claims in its advertising that it’s “not authorized by a candidate or a candidate’s committee” that they are making an illegal “false statement.”

Arnebeck is lead attorney in the on-going King-Lincoln-Bronzeville class action lawsuit stemming from the theft of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. We are co-counsel and plaintiff in this lawsuit. On Sunday, October 24, Rove was served with a subpoena agreed to by Ohio’s Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, in conjunction with that lawsuit.

The new complaint was filed at the Ohio Election Commission in downtown Columbus on Thursday, October 28.

The complaint reads that “…we identified Karl Rove as the principal perpetrator in an Ohio racketeering conspiracy.” The complaint goes on to explain that: “in the current election cycle the election corruption enterprise of Rove and [Tom] Donahue [head of the US Chamber of Commerce] is being manifested through the influx of billionaire/global corporate money where the actual source of the funding and speech is concealed.”

Arnebeck wants the Election Commission to find that there is probable cause to believe that “…this secret money is an in-kind contribution to these campaigns.” Arnebeck hopes that the finding of probable cause from the Commission “will enable private parties seeking to uphold the integrity of the election process to conduct discovery to prove their case which under the Ohio racketeering statute must be done as a pre-requisite to an assertion of criminal liability.”

The filing has resulted in the scheduling of a hearing at 9am Monday, November 1, in Columbus. If the Commission grants Arnebeck’s probable cause request, it would open Rove and the Chamber of Commerce to widespread discovery that, according to Arnebeck, could lead to criminal prosecution based on charges of racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy.

According to Arnebeck, the United States Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision allows independent contributions from wealthy private and corporate donors. Coordinated activities between partisan candidates and groups like the Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership for Ohio’s Future and Rove’s American Crossroads are illegal.

The complaint also discloses new information about the December 19, 2008, air crash death of Michael Connell, Rove’s computer guru. Connell was deposed one day prior to the November, 2008, presidential election. He has been linked to construction of a computer apparatus that was tied directly to Rove and was capable of election manipulations. These activities have been at the center of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit. We will report further on this matter in an upcoming story.

“Tom Donahue, head of the United States Chamber of Commerce, has been quite outspoken and proud of his accomplishments in delivering vast sums of money to Karl Rove and to Karl Rove’s operation, often through non-profit corporate entities, the names of which conceal the identity and character of the actual contributors,” Arnebeck says.

Arnebeck’s complaint suggests there may have been illegal contributions from a foreign corporation. “In a meeting I had with Lloyd Mahaffey, of the United Auto Workers,” Arnebeck writes, “he told me that when representatives of Daimler-Chrysler were confronted by the union concerning their expenditures to influence the Ohio Supreme Court race in 2000, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, their representatives assured Mahaffy that the decision to make that contribution was made in Germany.” Such a decision-making process for contributing funds to a U.S. political campaign would be clearly illegal.

Arnebeck asserts that he has “…a confidential source who personally witnessed Karl Rove and Tom Donahue coordinating their activities to determine the outcome of a state Supreme Court election.” Such coordination would also be illegal under state and federal election laws.

The injection of huge sums of cash into partisan election operations has re-defined the process of American democracy in this and several previous election cycles. This filing with the Ohio Election Commission is a critical step in testing the legalities of these coordinated efforts.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection and are co-counsel and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville class action lawsuit. Contributions to this suit can be made through, where the FITRAKIS FILES can be found. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at
Original article here:

Bob Fitrakis
March 25, 2009

Ohio election officials purged more than a million voters between the 2004 and 2008 elections. The number is three times that of voters purged between the 2000 and 2004 elections in that key swing state.

The Free Press Election Protection Project requested data from Boards of Elections in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. A detailed analysis of the records reveals shocking and unprecedented purges. The total number of people whose names were removed from the voting rolls is a stunning 1.25 million.

The Ohio data shows enormous disparities in the number of people purged in different categories from county to county. These results suggest obvious violations of equal protection and due process. The documents demonstrate that the voting rights of a million Ohioans were destroyed based on the arbitrary whims of local election officials. Purging appears to be subject to widely diverse interpretations of state and federal laws by different Ohio Board of Elections officials.

Despite being the only organization in Ohio to conduct a statewide study of voter purges, Free Press staffers were not invited to present the results at the second statewide Ohio Election Conference convened by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in March 2009.

One of the study’s most troubling findings was that Hamilton County knocked 37,465 reported felons off the voting list. The next largest number came from Franklin County, which is larger than Hamilton County, with 2,174. Hamilton County became infamous in the 2004 election for wrongly telling former felons that they weren’t eligible to vote unless a judge signed off. Ohio uses the “in/out” rule in regards to felons: those in prison cannot vote; those out of prison can vote, even if on probation or in a halfway house.

Hamilton County’s felon purge constituted 80% of all Ohio’s total. In the past, some counties mistakenly purged people only indicted, but not convicted of felonies. After a Free Press investigation, Franklin County admitted to this practice prior to the 2004 election.

Those suffering a “mental incident” can be purged as well, especially in Fayette County. Out of 307 voters stripped of their voting rights because of psychological problems, 283 were from Fayette County – more than 92% of the state’s reported total.

Altogether, 220,000 voters were purged due to death or moving. There were 137,550 voters who moved from one county to another and were justifiably eliminated as they were merged into their new county’s voting roll. Another 93,178 voters deleted due to death, leaving more than a million eliminated for other or unknown reasons.

The largest single purge category, with 228,799 voters, was “failure to vote.” In Franklin County, home of Columbus, led the way with 116,000 purged voters – 51% of the total eliminated for not voting.

“Failure to vote” may have a different definition depending on which Ohio county you ask. Some counties purge if a voter fails to vote in federal elections for eight years straight. Other counties purge after failure to vote in federal elections every four years.

Only 47 Ohio counties offered specifics on the reasons for purging. Other counties simply reported a non-categorized total number of purges in response to the Free Press records request. The Republican stronghold of Warren County purged more than 52,000 people without explanation and Democratic Lucas County, home of Toledo, purged more than 24,000 for unknown causes. Many of Ohio’s counties refused to comply with the Free Press’ records request until after the election, and some complied only after legal pressure from the Secretary of State’s office.

Ohio does not have a uniform system for keeping track of purged voters. Shelby County and the historically corrupt Mahoning County refused to comply with Ohio’s public records law and provided no records. Sandusky County, despite assurances from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office that there is a statewide computer database linked to all counties, informed the Free Press that they only had paper records available for inspection on site and were incapable of transmitting electronic data.

One of the difficulties discussed at the March Election Conference is that there’s no statewide system for coding purges, making it unclear which counties remove people for death, felony conviction, failing to vote, or failing to respond to a notice from the Board of Elections.

Statewide Free Press Election Protection Project coordinator Connie Gadell-Newton noted in her preliminary assessment, “…even though a whopping 1.25 million records were removed, this doesn’t mean that 1.25 million people were disenfranchised or that 1.25 million individual people were removed from the voting rolls, since some voters may have been removed more than once if they moved from county to county multiple times.”

Initial studies indicate that 80% of purged voters who moved had moved within the county. Historically, Ohio voters who moved within the same county could cast their ballot at the county Board of Elections. In the run up to the 2008 election, 66,115 voters who moved within county were purged. Franklin County boasts 38% of the total. Fulton and Henry counties had only one each.

In 2008, the Republican Party and the Obama campaign waged a battle wherein voters were purged at the request of the Republican Party and later re-registered by the Obama campaign.

The records indicate that many voters were removed for failure to respond to a mailed notice, even though they continued to reside in the same county and some at the same voter registration address.

Verification of voter address has emerged as the key issue, not only in purge issues, but in uncounted provisional ballots. Ohio had 181,000 provisional voters, a staggeringly high number compared to only 7,000 provisional voters in Missouri and 5,000 in Virginia. These statistics come from Brunner’s first Election Summit in December 2008. In Ohio, 10% of all people voting on Election Day were forced to vote provisionally.

At the March Election Conference, Franklin County Board of Elections Deputy Director Matt Damschroder, a Republican, advocated using state and federal records to establish new addresses for Ohio voters.

Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice Lawrence Norden noted another problem with voters’ addresses. He pointed out that 36% of Ohio’s uncounted provisional ballots were the result of voters being in the wrong precinct, but often at the right polling place.

Tom McCabe, Director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, reported that 81% of provisional votes were counted in Mahoning County. He pointed out that the number would have been 90% had the pre-Ken Blackwell rules been in effect in Ohio. Prior to Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s supervision of Ohio’s 2004 presidential election, Ohio voters in the wrong precinct still had their votes counted from the county level to the presidential level.

McCabe also decried the fact that there is no consistent statewide standard for counting provisional ballots in Ohio. In his county, a voter who was able to produce a library card with a current address was allowed to vote, although that type of ID is not officially accepted in Ohio guidelines.

In a promising development, a handful of Ohio counties noted that they did not purge voter records from their computer systems, but merely moved questionable voter names into an “inactive” status. Some “flagged” certain voters if there were concerns about their eligibility. On another positive note, Coshocton County notified the Free Press that it is a “no purge” county.

Prior to the 2004 election, most purges were concentrated in the Democratic havens of Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. Public records show that in Cleveland, 24.93% of all voters were dumped from the voting rolls.

The pattern continued prior to the 2008 election, with an additional 211,000 Franklin County voters removed. Most were concentrated in the Democratically-controlled capital city of Columbus.

Just prior to the 2008 presidential election, the Free Press called attention to the Ohio Republican Party’s attempt to purge 600,000 long-time registered voters, and 200,000 newly-registered voters. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s intervention prevented the 800,000 purges by directing that Ohio voters had both the right to notification and hearing before being stripped of their voting rights. If the GOP had succeeded in eliminating the 800,000 overwhelmingly Democratic voters, John McCain may have carried Ohio by 50,000 votes, instead of losing by more than 200,000 votes.

A Jim Crow system of county-by-county partisan purges remains in effect in Ohio. The Buckeye State does not recognize voting as a fundamental human right. Voting is considered a universal and unalienable right in most other democracies. In Ohio, there’s no statewide system mandating all voters be treated equally before they lose their most basic and sacred right. In Ohio, often called the most Southern of Northern states, there is also no system in place that even requires giving a reason for disenfranchising a voter. No wonder the number of purged voters tripled last year.

Bob Fitrakis has a Ph.D. in political science and was an election observer in the Ohio 2004 general election, Ohio’s 2008 primary and 2008 general elections. He was the director of the Free Press Election Protection Project. This article was originally published by

The suspicious, disturbing death of election rigger Michael Connell
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
December 20, 2008

Michael Connell, the crucial techno- lynch pin in the theft of the 2004 election, and much more, is dead at the age of 45. His unnatural, suspicious death raises serious questions about the corruption of the American electoral process that now may never be answered.

Connell died Friday, December 19 when his Piper Saratoga plane crashed near his northern Ohio home. He was flying himself home from the College Park, Maryland airport. An accomplished pilot, flying in unremarkable weather, his death cuts off a critical path to much of what may never be known about how the 2004 election was shifted from John Kerry to George W. Bush in the wee hours of November 2. His plane crashed between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, one vacant, just 2.5 miles from the Akron-Canton airport.

A long-time, outspokenly loyal associate of the Bush family, Connell created the Bush-Cheney website for their 2000 presidential campaign. Connell may have played a role in various computer malfunctions that helped the GOP claim the presidency in 2000. As a chief IT consultant and operative for Karl Rove, Connell was a devout Catholic and the father of four children. In various interviews and a deposition Connell cited his belief that abortion is murder as a primary motivating factor in his work for the Republican Party.

Connell recently wrote the following in his New Media Communications newsletter, regarding Barack Obama’s election: “In our 230 year history, our democracy has suffered worse fates. It’s just that none come to mind right now.” Connell wrote: “This is just a moment in time and this too shall pass. Enduring is the fact that 2000 years ago, a babe was born in Bethlehem. When our Lord God sent his only Son for our salvation,…In spite of the current economic and political conditions, salvation is eternal.”

Ohio Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell hired Connell in 2004 to create a real-time computer data compilation for counting Ohio’s votes. Under Connell’s supervision, Ohio’s presidential vote count was transmitted to private, partisan computer servers owned by SmartTech housed in the basement of the Old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Connell’s company, New Media Communications worked closely with SmartTech in building Republican and right-wing websites that were hosted on SmartTech servers. Among Connell’s clients were the Republican National Committee, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and The SmartTech servers at one point housed Karl Rove’s emails. Some of Rove’s email files have since mysteriously disappeared despite repeated court-sanctioned attempts to review them.

In 2001, Michael Connell’s GovTech Solutions, LLC was selected to reorganize the Capitol Hill IT network, the only private-sector company to gain permission from HIR [House Information Resources] to place its server behind the firewall, he bragged.

At 12:20 am on the night of the 2004 election exit polls and initial vote counts showed John Kerry the clear winner of Ohio’s presidential campaign. The Buckeye State’s 20 electoral votes would have given Kerry the presidency.

But from then until around 2am, the flow of information mysteriously ceased. After that, the vote count shifted dramatically to George W. Bush, ultimately giving him a second term. In the end there was a 6.7 percent diversion—in Bush’s favor—between highly professional, nationally funded exit polls and the final official vote count as tabulated by Blackwell and Connell.

Until his death Connell remained the IT supervisor for six Congressional committees. But on the day before the 2008 election, Connell was deposed by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count, and his continued involvement in IT operations for the GOP, including his access to Rove’s e-mail files and the circumstances behind their disappearance.

Various threats have been repeatedly reported involving Connell and other IT experts close to the GOP. On July 24, 2008, Arnebeck emailed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, stating: “We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King-Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio,….”

Connell’s death comes at a moment where election protection attorneys and others appeared to be closing in on critical irregularities and illegalities. In his pre-election deposition, Connell was generally evasive, but did disclose key pieces of information that could prove damaging to Karl Rove and the GOP. Examining attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit, stemming from the 2004 election theft, were confident Connell had far more to tell.

There is widespread concern that this may be the reason he is now dead.

Revised December 21, 2008

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including AS GOES OHIO and HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICAS 2004 ELECTION…, available at, where this article first appeared. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King- Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit which subpoenaed and was deposing Michael Connell.

The Columbus Dispatch is at it again. This time it’s Thomas Suddes on the Sunday October 12 Op-Ed page. Suddes sank to a new low even by Fourth Reich-style Dispatch rhetoric and propaganda standards. Suddes wrote: “To weigh Obama’s Ohio prospects, Al Gore’s 2000 tally might offer some hints, except to conspiracy freaks who know 2000’s vote-count was rigged by GOP munchkins in a Columbus basement. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, ‘When paranoia walks in the door, facts go innuendo.’”

The only one who has ever offered this conspiracy theory is Suddes himself. The Ph.D.s and professors at Penn and NYU who challenge Bush’s 2004 results have never questioned the 2000 election results in Ohio. Suddes knows this, but the he prefers that facts be banished from the room and door be barred.

Gore did not contest Ohio in 2000. Nor was the real-time apparatus linking the county boards of elections to ultra-partisan J. Kenneth Blackwell in place in 2000.

For Suddes to perpetrate conspiracy theory and attribute it to fact-based social scientists is an old trick perfected by Hitler’s co-horts and sycophants. It is a fact that Ohio’s real-time vote count was outsourced in 2004 to the old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is true that Smartech, the company that provided the servers at the Tennessee site, was hosting a who’s who of right-wing Republican political operatives from the swift-boaters to linked to the White House.

Suddes is offering the classic sleight of hand by forging and manufacturing absurd facts so he doesn’t have to deal with unpleasant realities. Suddes has to be regarded as a political operative, or paid political whore. Whichever one he is, history will record that it was bought and paid for journalists or brown-nosing hacks like Suddes who helped destroy American democracy.

By Chris Pepus

Monday, August 11 @ 00:00:00 EDT

The American press corps has finally begun to report on illegal activities of the Bush administration. However, the subject of election theft remains largely ignored. In recent years, the Republican Party has used an array of tactics to subtract votes from opposing candidates. These include sending defective voting machines to strongly Democratic precincts and removing low-income and minority voters from electoral rolls.

Reporter Greg Palast has been covering this issue since 2000, when he revealed that Florida officials ensured the election of George W. Bush by illegally suppressing the African-American and Democratic vote. (Learn more about that subject here.) In this interview, I asked Palast about his reports on the GOP’s dirty electoral tricks since 2000 and the possibility that the ’08 election will be stolen. He explained how the Help America Vote Act actually helps crooked Republicans and he previewed his upcoming broadcasts and publications, which will include a free guide with tips for safeguarding your vote.

–Chris Pepus

Chris: Your reports on vote suppression led to a congressional inquiry and the resignation of Tim Griffin, one of President Bush’s U.S. Attorneys.[i] Could you describe how the Bush administration interfered with voting rights in 2004?

Greg: Item one is something that we discovered called caging. There were e-mails written by the Republican National Committee’s chief researcher, a character named Tim Griffin, who was a protégé of Karl Rove.[ii] He was sending out caging lists, which are hit lists of voters to challenge. The way caging works is they send out registered letters to voters and when the voters aren’t around to receive their letters—the envelopes say, “Do Not Forward”—the voters end up being subject to challenge. The particular hit list that we got was substantially filled with voters from the naval air station in Jacksonville ( Florida). There are reasons why someone at a naval air station wouldn’t be at their voting address. That’s because, unlike Bush during Vietnam, they are off in a foreign war. Republicans also sent letters to students at black colleges in August knowing that they wouldn’t be there. They illegally challenged their votes. The Republicans challenged three million voters in 2004, which is absolutely unbelievable and unreported. That fact was right there in the records of the Election Assistance Commission of the federal government. Those voters received provisional ballots and a million of those ballots were thrown in the garbage. That is just one of the tricks. There are several and they are being sharpened for 2008.

Chris: But Griffin claimed that he didn’t know what caging was until he read your report. “I had to look it up,” he said.

Greg: Well, actually, I determined that he is correct. He sent out an e-mail saying, “Here is a caging list.” As he said, you have to be an expert in direct-mail marketing to understand what caging is. Now, that means that someone told him to send out an e-mail with caging lists, someone whose orders were so important that he wouldn’t question them, even if he didn’t know what (the list) was. Now, who would know direct marketing and who could give orders to Tim Griffin? Well, before he worked for George W. Bush, Karl Rove was head of Rove & Company, a direct-mail marketing firm. Rove is an expert on caging. Law professor Bobby Kennedy Jr., my co-investigator, says that this was an illegal act. So who ordered this illegal act? Hm, Mr. Rove?

Chris: How did you obtain these e-mails?

Greg: Griffin is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he copied these e-mails not to, which was the campaign’s internal e-mail system, but rather to, a parody web site. The head of that site, John Wooden, knows me. He immediately passed (the e-mails) on to my team. He didn’t know what they were and, frankly, we didn’t know what they were at first either. It took a lot of work to decode.

Chris: Have there been any new developments in the case, other than Karl Rove’s refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee?

Greg: I have just returned from a meeting with David Iglesias, a fired prosecutor from New Mexico. Caging and gimmicks like it were behind his firing and the firings of other U.S. prosecutors.[iii] The U.S. press corps, as usual, got it completely wrong. The firing of U.S. Attorneys is not simply about the politics of the prosecutors or even the operations of their offices. Rather, it is about an attempt to force prosecutors to be involved in a scheme to arrest voters under voter-fraud laws to create hysteria to justify vote suppression. I was constantly asking Republicans, “If there are so many criminal voters, why haven’t you arrested them? Why aren’t there prosecutions?” The Republicans said, “Oh, there will be. Talk to David Iglesias.” I called him and other prosecutors and got all this hemming and hawing. So, I’m being told that Iglesias is about to bring prosecutions and he is saying, “I don’t think so.” It’s very clear to me that Iglesias was resisting phony prosecutions. He ran around the bases looking for fraudulent voters and he didn’t find one. Some were in the military, so they were not at their voting addresses.

I just came back from checking out some of the so-called fraudulent voters that Iglesias refused to prosecute. Republican leaders gave me their names. There was one lady, a waitress, who was signed up twice and there were two different signatures of her name. So I spoke to her—this “criminal”—and I said, “Did you register twice?” She said, “Yes.” She explained that, under the law, if you don’t receive formal acknowledgment of your registration, you can and should register again. They don’t put your name on the roll twice. I asked why there were two signatures: “Was there some fraudulent game going on?” She said: “No. One time, I signed at a table. The other time, I signed it on my hand.” This woman was supposed to be one of the six most obvious cases of a fraudulent voter in New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson signed laws making it harder for people to register because of these so-called frauds. The laws are so horrible that Richardson, a Hispanic Democrat, is being sued by the Brennan Center for Justice for illegally impeding Hispanic voters.     

Chris: It’s remarkable how many groups are targeted. I recall reading about defective voting machines in (Palast’s 2006 book) Armed Madhouse. You mentioned that, in ’04, the county in New Mexico where the most votes disappeared was a predominantly white, working-class county.

Greg: Yeah, I call vote theft “class war by other means.” Places like Native American precincts, black precincts, and Mexican barrios are often the hardest hit. But, statistically, we find that it is income more than race that determines whether your vote will count. I can tell you the probability that your vote will count if you tell me your income. By the way, the Republican secretary of state[iv] in Colorado (Mike Coffman) just attacked me. I reported that he purged all these voters. He said, “Palast is just trying to raise money for his operation,” but he didn’t say I was wrong. He said he was just following the law. I’d heard all this from Katherine Harris[v] before. I’d said, “Guess the color of the voters purged.” He said, “We don’t keep track of voters’ race on our voter forms.” Yeah, right. They know. It’s by zip code. That’s the other thing: if they don’t know, they should know. Civil rights law does require election officials to take steps to determine that their actions don’t have a racial bias. When he said, “I don’t know,” that’s not true and, also, that’s not a legal answer. He’s supposed to know, especially when he removes a fifth of the voters in Colorado.

Chris: Another state with a history of vote suppression is Florida. In 2000, you reported that Florida Republicans removed tens of thousands of Democratic voters from the rolls. Have you found evidence pointing to a similar result this year?

Greg: Worse than ever. The whole nation’s been Floridated. George Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (in 2002) and, in 2006, they did a Katherine Harris on the whole nation. They told secretaries of state, who are partisan officials in every state, to purge away and remove “suspect voters.” A lot of the things that were illegal, like caging, that’s now in the law. Basically, we now have federal cover for mischief, instead of federal prohibition. In one New Mexico county, half the Democrats who showed up to vote in the (2008) primary/caucus couldn’t vote. You have address purges, I.D. purges. The Brennan Center said that about 85,000 voters in Florida are losing their right to vote, because they signed up in voter drives and couldn’t verify their identity. Overwhelmingly, those voters are black, because many black voters register in voter drives out of their churches. So, Florida’s back in the game. They’re just changing the rules.

Chris: How does the Help America Vote Act enable those tactics?

Greg: For example, Florida, when imposing special identity requirements on voter drives, they cited the Help America Vote Act. They said that it was required. Now, the fact that forty-six states don’t agree with them on that interpretation didn’t stop them. Also, HAVA basically required every state in America to change its laws. Once you open up the howling Pandora’s Box of election law, every reform becomes grounds for new mischief. HAVA creates this new shadow world of law. Florida officials said, “Well, we did this for HAVA.” Then the lawyers at the Brennan Center said, “Where in HAVA? How can you say this is for HAVA?” They said, “Oh, well, that’s our own interpretation.” Is this federal law? Is it state law? No, it’s Bush law; it’s Rove law. The nice thing about elections for vote thieves: there’s a “Fuck you” clause in vote theft. If you win, you control the review. You own the police.

Chris: Which provisions of the act are most often cited as authority for attacks on voting rights?

Greg: I go back to the 2006 codicils. Certain things kicked in in ’06 regarding verification of voter identity. That is the most mischievous thing. The law demanded that, beginning in ’06, each state must have centralized, computerized rolls of voters. Again, the first state to go full-on with computerized, centralized purging of voter rolls was Florida. That’s how we ended up with the phony felon purge (in 2000). With HAVA, they used the Florida fix as an excuse to create a so-called reform and the “reform” was to take Florida’s method and nationalize it. But people say, “Well, why shouldn’t we have verified rolls?” The answer is that this is a new law to prevent a crime that almost never happens. We have five or fewer convictions for vote fraud a year in America. We figure that, under the new system, five million voters a year lose their right to vote. You literally have a million voters losing their right to vote to catch one ne’er-do-well. You don’t arrest a million people to catch one murderer.

Chris: Now, regarding these centralized lists, you’ve written about a firm called Accenture that runs computerized voting lists for various state governments. Could you talk about that?

Greg: Accenture used to be Arthur Andersen, but after they got caught cooking the books for Enron, they tend not to use that name. Arthur Andersen was split into two parts: one was liquidated, put into bankruptcy, and one was renamed Accenture. They haven’t changed their ways. There’s Accenture; there’s ES&S (Election Systems & Software). These characters are some of the greasiest operators out there. They combine bias with incompetence and high fees. ES&S has been involved in New Mexico. It’s a firm founded by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (of Nebraska). Every time ES&S gets involved in purging voter rolls, they turn astonishingly Republican. Everyone knows that if you use certain methods, it knocks out certain types of voters. That’s why I’m doing this investigation with Bobby Kennedy. We are investigating the theft of the 2008 election before it happens. We’re looking at what’s happening in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Florida. We’re going to be putting out a big national magazine article with our findings. We can’t say where.

Chris: When is that going to come out?

Greg: In September. We will then also have a film out starting with a broadcast on BBC Television and a U.S. national network. For the first time, we’re going to break through the electronic blockade in America.

Chris: I read that you’re raising funds for the broadcast. How are you doing on that?

Greg: Well, that’s the thing. (The network) finally opened the door, but they said, “Of course, we’re not paying for this.” Okay, I’ll tell my cameramen to eat dog food. My staff is pretty good at living on very little. They were here last night ’til 2 a.m. (Research associate) Zach Roberts—I want to give him his due—his last day off was about seven weeks ago. This is a nonstop operation, but I have to raise money to provide the bare minimum. We do want to be able to provide outreach and give stuff out to some activist groups. We’re going to have a voter guide, Steal Back Your Vote, which I’m putting together with Kennedy. A lot of this is going to be in comic-book form, designed by Top Shelf. I had a complaint from one of my fundraisers that we give away too much stuff—my books, DVDs. But that’s our game: to get the word out and build a knowledge base. Now, I’ll give a hint of my age. The protests against the war in Vietnam began with massive teach-ins: “Here’s where Vietnam is.” We need to learn the issues. People are unarmed. That is, people know that they’re getting shafted, but they don’t really know exactly how.

[i] U.S. Attorneys are senior prosecutors in the Justice Department. There are 93 U.S. Attorneys, each in charge of his/her own district.

[ii] Nicknamed “Bush’s brain,” Rove served as chief strategist for Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. From 2001-2007, Rove held various posts in the Bush administration, including senior advisor and deputy chief of staff.

[iii] In 2006, the Justice Department fired nine U.S. Attorneys, nearly all of whom had received high performance ratings from the department. The subject is being investigated by Congress. Alberto Gonzalez, the attorney general at the time, claims to remember very little about the firings.

[iv] The official in charge of a state’s elections.

[v] In 2000, Harris was the secretary of state in Florida and the co-chair of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in that state. She presided over the various voter purges in 2000 and was the one who officially certified Bush the winner of the election.

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