September 25, 2011

The original notice that Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, would be speaking at Cedarville University in Ohio came from What piqued my interest is how a Bible-based fundamentalist university would invite the country’s most famous Machiavellian to speak on Constitution Day.

As a frequent critic of Rove, my writings have argued that he’s not only a war criminal as Bush’s advisor during the illegal Iraq War, but also a violator of human rights on the issue of torture for supporting Bush’s torture policies. Also, I’ve argued that he’s a criminal racketeer because of his illegal activities regarding the Florida presidential election in 2000 and the Ohio election in 2004.

To Cedarville University’s credit, the Alpha Sigmas invited me to speak prior to Rove’s visit and outline my case against him. The 60 or so people who filled the lecture room applauded politely at the beginning, and even at the end, but that was nothing compared to the standing ovation Rove would get in the Jeremiah Chapel during his introduction and conclusion.

The title of Rove’s Constitution Day speech was “2012: Choosing our Future.” This was a little less academic than my “The Rovian Dilemma: Machiavellian or Moralist” speech.

Rove was shockingly charming during his introduction. Preceding him, perhaps ironically, the school’s choir belted out The Battle Hymn of the Republic” a northern battle cry to greet the faux Texan, Rove.

Rove began by reading the preamble to the Constitution and then introducing his theme of the “big choices” before the thousands assembled. He launched into a fairly detailed attack on the Obama stimulus plan around the talking point “we cannot spend our way to prosperity.” In Rove’s analysis, Bush’s trillion dollar bailout of the “too big to fail” investment banks is forgotten, as is the massive debt run up under his administration, the great recession he triggered, and the yearly surplus that existed at the end of the Clinton years.

Rove should be given credit for not using rubber numbers in his current criticism of Obamanomics. However, he pushed heavily what scholars call “the Horatio Alger myth,” where mythical small entrepreneurs under a limited government flourish and save America. Rove’s plea to continue the un-taxing of the rich, many of them contributors to Rove’s American Crossroads political action committee (PAC), centered around the theme “we’re not a country of resentment.”

Apparently, poor people and middle class people get excited and draw pleasure from the lifestyles of the rich, famous and untaxed. In the Rovian world, working people like to pack up factories and help giant corporation move to China because they know what’s good for rich people is good for America. And, after all, if anybody who wants can get rich, why do you really need any social problems that aid the poor and unemployed?

But where Rove really milks the applause from the fundamentalist crowd is on the subject of all things militaristic. As one of our country’s most famous chicken hawks, Rove liked to talk about the “nine young men in uniform in Dr. Smith’s class” where he had lectured earlier in the day on political science. One can only hope that the men in uniform there would honor their oath to the U.S. Constitution and their specific commitment to defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic, by arresting Rove.

His big ending centered around a Navy Seal who had taken enemy fire in his face and by God, that SEAL was one of God’s happiest men for the privilege of waging war in a far-off land for ever shifting reasons, against ill-equipped foes. What Rove realizes is that modern right-wing fundamentalism has merged Christianity and nationalism and that Cedarville’s version of the corporate war-mongering Jesus prevails over the Prince of Peace and the Christ of the Sermon on the Mount.

What Rove took from Machiavelli is obvious. Machiavelli famous advice to the Prince – to be the first one out on high holy days, to make a public demonstration of religious ritualistic commitment, but not taking any of Jesus’ actual values seriously.

Rove took the same approach to the U.S. Constitution, going out of his way to praise Obama only for not closing Guantanamo Bay. “I applaud him for it,” Rove stated.

In Rove’s final shredding of the U.S. Constitution, he told the students that there are no rights for “bad people” at Guantanamo because they’re “not a criminal, but an enemy.” Apparently in Rove’s world, due process for criminals and military combatants are waived if you’re a “bad person.”

He went on to justify his analysis in one of the most convoluted applications of logic that I’ve heard in recent memory. In an analysis that would have made Machiavelli blush, he gave Bush the credit for killing Osama bin Laden by arguing that during enhanced interrogation (read: torture) five years earlier, some bad people at Guantanamo lied about some people in Pakistan. Thus, five years later, people working for Obama were able to figure out that the people being tortured under Bush lied and were actually working for Osama bin Laden. Hence, the undiscovered lies from the torture victims led to the killing of bin Laden.

In a press conference prior to his speech on the Constitution, Rove told reporters that he plans to raise a quarter of a billion dollars with his independent PACS American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS to influence the election in key battleground states like Ohio. In 2004, a Cedarville professor and some students helped then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell monitor Ohio’s election count, even when it was outsourced to a Republican-owned computer company in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Computer security expert Stephen Spoonamore, a lifelong Republican, has denounced that shift of the vote counting as a “man-in-the-middle attack” that illegally altered the vote count between Kerry and Bush in Bush’s favor.

Cedarville University must worry about whether it gains access to the political world of Karl Rove, but loses its soul. The University must render under Rove the things that are illegal and render under God their conscience.

Bob Fitrakis has a Ph.D. in political science and a J.D. and teaches political theory and American Government.

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 2, 2010

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce will not reveal the list of individuals and corporations that have funded its election campaign in the Buckeye State, despite having promised to do so in a public hearing.

In Columbus on Monday, November 1, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville election theft lawsuit, argued in a racketeering complaint in front of the Ohio Elections Commission that the Partnership for Ohio’s Future, an affiliate of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, should disclose its secret donors. We are co-counsel and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln suit.

Arnebeck argued that former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce are illegally coordinating donations in Ohio. While the recent Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision allows for unlimited contributions from independent campaign organizations, it does not allow coordination between candidates and independent committees.

The Chamber spent more than $3 million in this year’s general election cycle to elect two Supreme Court justices, Judith Lanzinger and Maureen O’Connor, running for Chief Justice. The Chamber reported spending $1.45 million on TV ads alone. The Chamber’s $3 million dwarfed the campaign funds of the two candidates, since neither have raised $1 million.

Over the past four election cycles, the Chamber has made public its list of campaign donors. There’s been an ongoing struggle between the Chamber and its critics to list individual donors to the U.S. and Ohio Chambers, instead of their practice of listing lump-sum totals attributed to both Chambers.

Brad Smith, the Chamber’s Chief Counsel, promised in front of the Ohio Election Commission, that the Chamber would produce the names of the donors it has failed to disclose this year.

Formerly nominated by Bill Clinton to the Federal Election Commission, he chaired the Commission in 2004 under the Bush administration. Smith told the four-person Ohio Election Commission panel that “anyone who wants the list” of donors to the Chamber’s election campaigning could have it.

In his “ten-second rebuttal” before the Election Commisson’s Probable Cause panel, Smith complained that Arnebeck never asked him for the list.

In the hall after the hearing, Linda Woggan, the Chamber’s Vice President for Governmental Affairs, promised Arnebeck that she would provide the list of secret donors as well.

Arnebeck specifically asked for the list in electronic form so it could be disseminated to the media prior to Election Day.

In the wake of Smith’s promise, the Commission voted 3-1 to deny Arnebeck’s probable cause motion demanding that list. Arnebeck called Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner who agreed to have subpoenas issued to the Chamber and its affiliates. Brunner, in her capacity of secretary of state, is the party being sued in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case, replacing former Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Following the hearing, Arnebeck, under the auspices of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal case, then served subpoenas on the Partnership, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber’s Educational Foundation, as well as Woggon and Chamber President Andrew Doehrel at 11:30am at the Chamber building. The subpoenas demanded the names of the secret donors by 2pm.

Arnebeck has long maintained that the Chamber’s activities since the 2000 election year function as an ongoing illegal money laundering operation to take over Ohio’s Supreme Court. Documents submitted at the Commission hearing show the key role of former Ohio Governor Bob Taft in soliciting the secret donations through the Chamber of Commerce.

At 1:30pm, Smith called Arnebeck and assured him that the list of donors would be produced by 2pm, or no later than 3pm.

At 3:30pm, a courier delivered to Arnebeck the Chamber’s official response: a motion to quash the subpoenas, and to keep secret the Chamber’s donor list.

Despite Smith’s quite public promise to deliver the names of donors, he argued in his motion to quash the subpoenas that: “The information sought from these non-party witnesses is not relevant to this matter, nor reasonably intended to lead to the production of admissible evidence.”

In moving to quash, Smith argued that “the subpoenas seek substantially the same information he [Arnebeck] had earlier requested from the Ohio Elections Commission.” Smith failed to note that he had publicly promised to hand the list over before the Commission.

On Sunday, October 24, Arnebeck had served Karl Rove with a subpoena requiring him to testify in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case concerning civil rights violations in the 2004 Ohio election.

Rove continues to work closely with national Chamber of Commerce chair Tom Donohue. Rove, Donohue and others have made clear their commitment to carrying Ohio for the Republican Party.

Arnebeck asserts their coordination with GOP candidates is a violation of federal election law.

However those charges play out, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce will not be telling the public who has funded its election campaigning efforts before the close of voting November 2.

Smith also has requested sanctions against Mr. Arnebeck because of the unreasonable request on the Chamber: “…particularly in light of Mr. Arnebeck’s claim this morning at the Ohio Elections Commission that the information was needed by this afternoon to prevent ‘a coup’ against the U.S. government.”

Arnebeck’s coup reference was in relation to his allegation that Rove and the Chamber are involved in an unprecedented secret and coordinated money laundering operation to shift U.S. and state politics to Republican control.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection at Free Press, where the FITRAKIS FILES also appear. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE U.S. is at Harvey Wasserman They are co-counsel and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit.

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
June 18, 2007

The current scandal involving the firing of U.S. attorneys cannot be separated from the Bush administration’s scheme to suppress black, poor and working class voters. In order to divert attention from its voter suppression tactics that won Bush the White House in 2000 and 2004, the Bush administration created the myth of “voter fraud.” Using fake “voting rights” organizations, obscure groups to finance civil suits and pressure on the U.S. Department of Justice to bring criminal charges against voter registration organizations, Karl Rove and his political operatives like Mark F. “Thor” Hearne have succeeded in undermining the United States’ democracy.

“Hearne was one of the most important Bush operatives that almost nobody in America has ever heard of. He applied his vote-suppressing trade from coast to coast, behind the scenes, in a well-funded systematic effort to undermine democracy and keep voters – Democratic voters – from exercising their legal franchise,” Brad Friedman, Editor of Bradblog, told the Free Press. Bradblog was the first to reveal Hearne’s masquerade as a voting rights advocate.

Hearne’s name recently surfaced in the scandal surrounding the White House’s firing of U.S. attorneys causing the mainstream media to begin scrutinizing his past political activity. The National Journal has pointed out that Hearne is a “common denominator” in the firing of Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins and western Missouri U.S. Attorney Todd Graves. At the time of the firings, Cummins was investigating Republican Governor Matt Blunt’s administration, and Graves had refused to indict when partisan charges were brought against the Association of Communities Organizing for Reform Now (ACORN) for a voter registration drive just prior to the 2006 election.

Columbus mayoral candidate linked to scandal

Republican candidate for mayor of Columbus William Todd has direct ties to two controversial election organizations that are linked to the White House scandal surrounding the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Todd, an attorney at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, is challenging Columbus’ first African American Mayor Michael Coleman in this fall’s election. Between 1993 and 2006, Todd served as an attorney at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey whose website stated that, “Mr. Todd served as litigation counsel in these election matters for groups such as the Free Enterprise Coalition, the American Center for Voting Rights and the Ohio Republican Party.”

The Free Enterprise Coalition (FEC) and the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) emerged as key players in the Bush administration’s voter suppression plan in the 2004 presidential election. Financing from the FEC funded a racketeering charge against grassroots voter registration groups including the NAACP. The ACVR is widely regarded as a fake voting rights organization created to repress minority and poor voters in urban areas while perpetuating the myth of “voter fraud” among Democratic voting blocks.

The Squire, Sanders & Dempsey website also showed Todd as general counsel for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Citizens for a Strong Ohio (CSO). In 2005, the Ohio Election Commission fined the CSO for operating illegally as a Political Action Committee (PAC) and making illegal corporate expenditures to influence Ohio Supreme Court races.

The CSO was also linked directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a legal complaint against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, election rights attorney Cliff Arnebeck exposed the fact that the Chamber had illegally moved $14 million in funds to Republican Supreme Court candidates between 2000-2004, to take over the highest court in Ohio. The role of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove and the Bush White House needs to be explored in more detail.

Brad Friedman of Bradblog, an expert on the ACVR, pointed out that Todd’s connection to the ACVR would likely be enough to sink his candidacy. “Even the mainstream media is paying attention now,” he said. It will be interesting to see if the Columbus Dispatch reports on Todd’s connections to voter suppression groups and his ties to the U.S. attorney scandal.

Hearne “believed that the U.S. attorney . . . Todd Graves was not taking seriously allegations that ACORN workers were registering people who did not qualify to vote,” noted the National Journal. Also, Republican attorney William Mateja, “repeatedly contacted” Cummins during the Blunt investigation “. . . at the behest of Hearne, whose law firm [Lathrop & Gage] had retained Mateja on Blunt’s behalf,” wrote the Journal.

After Graves’ dismissal, he was replaced by Bradley Schlozman, who issued an indictment against ACORN workers less than a week before the 2006 election. Cummins was also replaced by Karl Rove operative Timothy Griffin.

The National Journal also reported that two other fired U.S. attorneys, David Inglesias and John McKay, said they believed they were fired because “Republican activists in their states complained that they weren’t doing enough to pursue voting-fraud cases.”

Who is scrubbing the Thor Hearne websites?

As the heat is turned up on Hearne, his past appears to be vanishing from the internet.

As Bradblog noted on June 12, “Mark F. ‘Thor’ Hearne must really want to hide something about his discredited past as the frontman for the GOP front group calling themselves the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).”

Hearne testified before Congressman Bob Ney’s Committee on House Administration hearing in Columbus on March 21, 2005 as general counsel for the newly formed “voting rights” group, the ACVR. Incorporated a week before the hearing, the ACVR was ordained by Rep. Ney as a legitimate voting rights group, despite the fact that Hearne served as election counsel to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and had no references on his resume to any non-partisan voting rights groups. Congressman Ney is now known as federal prisoner #28882-016 for corruption as a result of his taking gifts from Jack Abramoff, among other charges.

In February 2005, at the urging of Karl Rove and the Bush White House, Hearne founded the ACVR, according to the National Journal. Co-founder Jim Dyke is a former Republican National Committee (RNC) communications director. The ACVR was a “non-partisan” 501(c)(3) legal and educational center committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections, stated their website. The long-standing voting rights group, the League of Women Voters, charged that the ACVR was a Republican front organization.

Hearne’s testimony at the Ney hearing was placed on the Moritz College of Law Election Institute website along with Professors Ned Foley and Dan Tokaji. Hearne was given equal billing with Norman Robbins, the head of a non-partisan voting rights group from Cleveland.

Not only does Hearne’s Wikipedia page no longer refer to the controversial ACVR, but Hearne’s testimony before the Ney hearing is no longer linked to the Moritz College of Law Election Law Institute website. Also, the ACVR website recently disappeared and the National Journal reported, “The group now appears to be defunct.”

Hearne and the myth of voter registration fraud

As the Free Press reported in 2005, Hearne, with the help of Republican attorney Alex Vogel, concocted a story that the main problem with the 2004 elections in Ohio was that the NAACP was paying people with crack cocaine to register voters. Based on scant evidence and an incident of a volunteer being linked to crack use, Hearne pushed a version of voter fraud in Ohio that directly attacked not only the NAACP, but ACORN, the AFL-CIO and ACT-Ohio. By attacking this combination of groups, Rove and Hearne were targeting the leading forces for registering blacks, poor, union workers and young people in Ohio – those most likely to vote Democratic.

Aided by Vogel, then-attorney for Republican Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, and a front group connected to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Free Enterprise Coalition, local Republican operative Mark Rubrick filed an Ohio corrupt practices lawsuit (RICO) against all the voter registration organizations listed above in Wood County.

The civil RICO case, backed by financing from the Free Enterprise Coalition, alleged that the voter registration groups provided “. . . payments made in connections with the violations (in the form of, among other things, ‘bounties,’ payments or other rewards for collecting and/or processing the registrations including but not limited to illegal drugs, paid to individuals actually engaged in the violations), . . .” At the bottom of the document filed by attorneys Jeffrey Creemer and Douglas Haynam of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick of Toledo, the following words appear: “jsc\Free Enterprise Coalition\Amended Complaint.doc” calling into question who was behind the lawsuit.

The suit was later quietly withdrawn after election rights attorney Cliff Arnebeck discovered that the Free Enterprise Coalition had indemnified Rubrick and had promised to pay any and all expenses related to his RICO suit. “I told Rubrick in no uncertain terms that his accusations that the NAACP was a criminal organization were false and that the indemnification from the Free Enterprise Coalition wasn’t worth the paper it was written on,” Arnebeck said.

In writing about the Free Enterprise Coalition (FEC) on May 28, 2007, the website SourceWatch contains the following quote: “No website, no employees, a disconnected phone and a lapsed corporate registration. Without the 990s, you’d be hard pressed to know the GOP funneled $2.8 million through the Free Enterprise Coalition to fund election-related legal expenses between 2004 and 2005.”

The vanishing of the FEC is directly tied the growing Department of Justice (DOJ) scandal.

Mark F. “Thor” Hearne & election fraud timeline

1976 – Hearne began his association with the Republican Party by serving as a page at both the national and Missouri GOP convention

1980 and 1984 – Hearne was an alternate at the Missouri GOP Party convention

1986 and 1987 – Hearne worked for the Reagan administration’s Department of Education Office for Civil Rights as a law clerk and attorney

1988 – Hearne ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican from the Missouri 3rd congressional district

2000 – Counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign and served as the Vice President and Director of Election Operations for the Republican National Lawyer’s Association. Hearne was also an operative in the so-called “Brooks Brothers” riot that stopped the Florida recount in one county after the 2000 presidential election. Hearne served as a Republican election observer in Broward County during the 2000 presidential recount

2002 – Hearne was the Republican lawyer who led the Missouri legislative redistricting fight

2004 – Counsel to Bush-Cheney re-election campaign

3/21/05 – Hearne shows up masquerading as a “non-partisan voting rights activist” and testifies under the auspices of the newly created American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) hearing on irregularities in the Ohio 2004 presidential election, accusing voter registration groups of fraud

4/27/05 – Free Press exposes Hearne’s role in Ohio in an article “How Blackwell and Petro Saved Bush’s Brain”

8/05 – Hearne testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitutions, Civil Rights and Property Rights

8/18/05 – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reveals partisan nature of ACVR, that it is a sham voting rights group and a Republican partisan operation

10/6/05 – Bradblog reports that ACVR co-founder Jim Dyke was working for the Bush White House to push the President’s Supreme Court nominee

12/30/05 – publishes article “Fake voting rights activists and groups linked to White House”

2006 – U.S. prosecutors fired

12/5/06 – Hearne is given a seat as an expert on the federal Election Assistance Commission

3/16/07 – The New York Times reports that bogus voter fraud claims are linked to the purging of U.S. prosecutors

4/5/07 – New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney David Inglesias is pressured by Republican operatives to bring vote fraud charges against voter registration groups in that state

4/11/07 – The New York Times reports that the original bipartisan EAC draft which was never released concluded that fears of voter fraud were overblown

5/2/07 – Hearne admits that he hired powerful GOP connected attorney William Mateja to intervene in the DOJ investigation of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

2007 – All traces of Hearne’s connection to the ACVR and Free Enterprise Coalition vanish from the internet

A press release from ACORN spelled out the reasons why Rove and Hearne attacked their organization, which is committed to registering poor people. In the 2004 election cycle, ACORN registered some 1.15 million low-income and minority citizens in 26 states. They also contacted 2.3 million citizens in their Get Out The Vote efforts.

Two similar suits had been filed in Florida as a result of ACORN’s activity in that crucial swing state during the 2004 election and dismissed around the same time.

Hearne spins Congress and the DOJ

From the outset, Hearne, who specialized in exaggerated and bizarre claims of voter fraud – what Arnebeck denounced as old racist stereotypes about blacks and drugs – lobbied the DOJ for a full-scale investigation of these imaginary drug-crazed volunteer voting registrars. In an initial letter to the DOJ, Hearne wrote that there was, “substantial evidence to suggest criminal wrongdoing by organizations such as Americans Coming Together (‘ACT’), ACORN, and the NAACP – Project Vote.”

Hearne told the DOJ that, “We understand that local Ohio law enforcement authorities are pursuing criminal prosecution against some of the individuals involved in this activity ‘which activities include paying crack cocaine for fraudulent voter registration forms.'” At the Ney hearing, Hearne assured U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones that he was basing his claims on “facts not anecdotes, affidavits, first hand accounts.”

When testifying before Ney’s committee in March 2005, Hearne blamed the voter suppression on “the Kerry campaign” referring to alleged events in Republican-dominated Marion County, Ohio. Arnebeck and other voting rights activists have dismissed Hearne’s claim that the Kerry campaign directed voters to the wrong polling places and telling them to vote on Wednesday, November 3 instead of Election Day, November 2, 2004. The facts in numerous legal filings, like the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville v. Blackwell and Moss v. Bush, suggest just the opposite.

Ironically, the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign was accused in hundreds of sworn affidavits of engaging in racist voter suppression tactics in Ohio’s urban centers. Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati’s majority black wards were littered with posters and fliers telling Democratic voters to vote on Wednesday, November 3. Both the Columbus Dispatch and the then-black-owned radio station WVKO documented calls directing voters in the inner city to the wrong polling places, where they waited up to three to seven hours, only to then be told they were at the wrong site.

Hearne claimed “the ACVR is a nonpartisan watchdog legal defense and educational center committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the outcome of elections.” He told the congressional committee that: “Ohio citizens deserve the confidence that they – the voters – not trial lawyers, activists judges and special interest groups soliciting fraudulent votes with crack cocaine determine the results of Ohio elections.”

What Hearne failed to tell the Congressional Committee, as he earnestly portrayed himself as a non-partisan voting rights activist, was his well-documented role as Bush-Cheney election counsel, the role of the Free Enterprise Coalition in financing the case against voting registration groups, and his role as a Republican operative with high-level ties to Karl Rove.

Hearne, with no real academic credentials, also had himself named as an academic advisor to the Carter-Baker Commission on election reform.

Caught in this masquerade

The National Journal called Hearne, “. . . a Republican Party operative who had served as national elections counsel for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign and played a behind-the-scenes role in both cases [the firing of Cummins and Graves].”

One wonders how Hearne was able to masquerade for so long and testify before the Ney Committee without being immediately outed. His ties to the Republican Party reach back to the 70s and are well-documented in his posted online biographies. (See timeline, pg, 17)

“Hearne’s role provides a window into how a Republican activist was pushing Bush administration officials – and perhaps in some cases working in concert with them – to use the Justice Department for partisan purposes,” wrote the National Journal.

Part of the Rove/Hearne strategy was to “cage” and intimidate Democratic voters while at the same time to register as many Republicans as possible. It is well documented that the Republican National Committee (RNC) threw around millions of dollars to hire Sproul & Associates to do voter registration. Election and law enforcement officials in several states investigated complaints that the company’s temporary workers were registering only Bush supporters and trashing thousands of registrations collected from suspected Democrats.

The New York Times reported on April 12, 2007 that the Bush administration’s five-year crackdown on voter fraud, according to Justice Department statistics, had only led to charges against 120 people, the majority of them Democrats, with only 86 convictions. The DOJ found that many cases simply involved mistakes and a misunderstanding of voting eligibility rules, suggesting that the Rove/Hearne obsession with voter fraud may have been covering deliberately designed voter suppression tactics directed from the White House, facilitated by Hearne, with a compromised and intimidated Department of Justice.

Why was it so important to Hearne for voter registration groups to be accused of fraud in the 2004 election? The calculated targeting of voter registration groups – subjecting them to civil RICO suits and criminal prosecution – is part of a larger strategy to shrink the electorate. Nothing chills volunteers and grassroots organizations like the threat of legal problems or jail time. And nothing distracts the mainstream media away from the new Jim Crow tactics used by the Bush administration to suppress voters than the myth of black voter registrars using crack and accusations of racketeering. A corrupt and partisan Department of Justice is essential to furthering the Bush administration’s injustice against poor and minority voters.

Bob Fitrakis is co-author, with Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO. This article was originally published at