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Will “Push And Pray” Voting Prevail In 2012? The Private Companies behind The Curtain: The Great And Powerful Advocates Of Faith-Based Electronic Voting

Bob Fitrakis

April 11, 2012

The Private Companies behind The Curtain: The Great And Powerful Advocates Of Faith-Based Electronic Voting

In this election year, the most important companies to watch are two you’ve probably never heard of — Smartech and Triad.

In the 2004 presidential election, Averbeck worked closely with the late Michael Connell, the CEO of New Media Communications. Connell was Karl Rove’s IT guru before his untimely death in a suspicious plane crash. As the FreePress.org has previously reported, then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell contracted with Averbeck to provide back-up computer services to report Ohio’s official election results.

Ohio Secretary of State’s office claimed they were unable to tabulate Ohio’s votes within the state in real time because their computers had a supposed “denial of service” attack in the wee hours of the morning after the 2004 Election Day. Vote tabulations were then shifted to the Old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee where Averbeck ran his internet service company Smartech. (See New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked)

Averbeck’s Airnet Group, Inc., doing business as Smartech, is a key company in the private, well-connected Republican world of electronic election systems. According to Airnet Group’s website it is a “…a leading of advanced Internet hosting, network and application solutions for business, delivery services via secure state-of-the-art Internet Data Centers.”

Airnet started as a staffing firm in 1994. The Chattanooga Times Free Press quotes Averbeck as saying he “…backed into political work” when he was hired to solve the Republican National Committee’s internet problems in the 2000 presidential election.

During the 2004 presidential election, Averbeck told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that his company had dedicated six web servers to handle his political business and was “negotiating for more broadband capacity to handle the growing demand for electronic political information.” In August 2004, Smartech hosted the Republican National Convention’s website as well as the Bush-Cheney campaign website – www.georgewbush.com.

The GOP paid Smartech $2.3 million in the 2004 election cycle, according to SourceWatch.

Prior to emerging as owner of the premier internet hosting company for Republicans in the United States, Averbeck had been affiliated with Pathway Press, the publishing arm of the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. “Pathway provides award-winning magazines, books, and innovative discipleship curriculum materials for the Church of God and to the wider Evangelical and Pentecostal community,” according to its website.

In 2006, Smartech earned even more money, $3.3 million, from the Republican Party.

Averbeck and Connell not only teamed up in Ohio during the controversial 2004 election in Ohio, but also worked with notorious political operative Paul J. Manafort on the 2004 campaign of Viktor Yanukovych in the Ukraine. The U.S. State Department accused Yanukovych’s campaign of rigging that election. Only a massive outcry by the Ukrainian people reversed those election results.

In 2010, with Connell deceased, Averbeck and Manafort once again worked on Yanukovich’s campaign. Allegations of election rigging emerged once again. This time, despite the charges of an election fix, Yanukovich was declared the winner.

While Connell’s New Media designed the Ohio election reporting system in 2004, Smartech hosted the back-up vote tabulation. The maintenance on the electronic voting machine maintenance in Ohio was done by primarily by a third secretive right-wing company, Triad. The Rapp family owns Triad Governmental Systems, also known as Triad GSI and the following companies: Rapp Systems, Corp.; Psephos Corp.; and Odyssey Online.

Connell, Averbeck and the Rapps — or New Media, Smartech and Triad — were all heavily committed to the Right-to-Life movement and far-right Republican politics.

The Rapp family, led by patriarch Tod A. Rapp of Xenia, Ohio, emerged in the public eye in 2000 after it was revealed that Psephos Corp. designed the infamous butterfly ballot in Florida. Tod Rapp started his first company, Rap Systems Corp. in 1979. In 1983, Tod Rapp and David E. Snoddy incorporated Triad Governmental Systems, Inc. Its stated purpose was “…to develop, promote, sell, distribute, market and service computer systems, software, and hardware and to consult with federal, state and local government authorities and private industry.”

During the recount of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, allegations were made that the Rapp family was aiding in rigging the recount for George W. Bush. Triad Governmental Systems maintained the computers in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, mainly in southern rural counties. In the last statewide election, public records indicate that Triad now services the computers in 57 of the 88 counties. Following their notoriety in the 2004 elections, Triad Governmental Systems started marketing itself as Triad GSI.

The Rapp family is well-known in the Greene County Right to Life movement. In Triad GSI’s website, the company says “It is our desire to develop the highest quality election software and hardware systems available in the elections business.”

In September 2011, Averbeck announced he was planning to build new data centers in Ohio and California but is committed to staying in his highly secured site in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Averbeck, the Rapp family, Smartech and Triad — these are the private, far-Christian Right companies that will be counting the vote on Election Day 2012 in the Buckeye State.


Originally published by https://freepress.org

The Suspicious, Disturbing Death Of Election Rigger Michael Connell

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 gwb43.com. 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

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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 www.freepress.org, 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.