The hotly disputed results of the 2004 presidential election
have become entangled in a fundamentalist crusade over who will control Ohio.
Extremist right-wing screachers, such as Pastor Rod Parsley
of the World Harvest Church, Ann Coulter, Alan Keyes, Ohio gubernatorial
candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell and followers of Jerry Falwell, have taken
center pulpit in an escalated war over what really happened when George W. Bush
was allegedly re-elected in November, 2004, and who will occupy the Buckeye
Statehouse in 2006.
The bitterly contested 2004 election results in Ohio have
taken a religious twist. As Pastor Parsley backed by his suburban Columbus
mega-church, is now in the middle of a Silent No More book tour aimed in
part at destroying the remnants of America's independent judiciary, but
primarily aimed at electing Blackwell governor.
Hate-based anti-liberal activists Coulter and Keyes joined
Parsley on April 16 to help launch the tour. Ohio's Secretary of State
Blackwell, infamous for dubiously delivering Ohio and thus the presidency to
George Bush in November 2004, is also part of the crusade. In his book
dedication Parsley cites Blackwell for his "courageous and outspoken
support of moral values and for your invaluable involvement during the Silent
No More tour. Character like yours is instrumental in restoring honor to
That "public service" recently came under new
scrutiny when William Anthony, the Democratic Chair of the Franklin Country
Board of Elections, revealed that on November 2, a number of voting machines
were transferred from inner city precincts to Parsley's suburban church.
Thousands of African-Americans were deprived of their vote due to the fact that
their precincts lacked sufficient balloting hardware. But voters at Parsley's
extreme right-wing precinct had no such waits.
In nearby Gahanna, at a precinct housed in the New Life
Church, the Republicans also got a faith-based boost. New Life's founder and
senior pastor is Dave Earley, a graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.
New Life's pastor of student ministry, Ron Vining, is also a Falwell product.
The two of them helped lead a 30-day Pray Down for Bush victory leading up to
the election. A key part of George W. Bush and Karl Rove's campaign strategy
was Issue One, an anti-gay and domestic partnership amendment spearheaded by
Blackwell and Parsley.
In keeping with Blackwell's faith-based tally of the Ohio
vote, the New Hope precinct broke new ground. In the now infamous "loaves
and fishes" parable precinct Gahanna 1B, after 638 citizens cast ballots
there, the precinct's divinely inspired voting machines registered 4,258 votes
for George W. Bush.
That absurd count was later adjusted, but not before Kerry
conceded. Blackwell now has the inside track to the 2006 Republican nomination
for governor. Emboldened by Bush's controversial win, and by the passage of
Issue One, which bans gay marriage and spousal benefits for unmarried partners
of all preferences, the extremist hate-based fundamentalists may have pushed
Blackwell past two more moderate candidates in the gubernatorial race.
Attorney General Jim Petro, long known as Ohio's Republican "enforcer,"
and former Attorney General and current State Auditor Betty Montgomery are
rightist conservatives. But they come up short on the anti-gay, anti-abortion
litmus tests being applied by the likes of Blackwell and Parsley. The Columbus
Dispatch reported that Blackwell supporters were referring to Petro as "pro-homo"
and Montgomery as "pro-choice." Mainstream Republican leaders now
fear their party -- and the state -- are about to be highjacked by the
Parsley/Blackwell fundamentalist machine unleashed by Bush and Rove.
That move comes amidst lingering questions about the Bush
family's ties to the voting machine industry. In 2003, a court case revealed
that the VoteHere voting machine company included on its board of directors
former CIA Director Robert Gates, a close Bush family confidante. Connections
between the Bush family and ownership of voting machines have also raised
questions about how future American elections will be decided.
Admiral Bill Owens is chair of VoteHere. Owens served as
senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick
Cheney. Carlucci now heads the notorious Carlyle Group, whose associates
include Cheney, George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker, who
iced George W. Bush's victory in Florida 2000.
Georgia has approved the purchase of VoteHere machines. The
military considered them for overseas voting, and the company has planned to
make components for other voting machine companies.
Blackwell recently announced that the partisan Republican
firm Diebold, run by one of Bush's major donors, CEO Wally O'Dell, will get an
unbid contract for all of Ohio's voting machines.
Meanwhile, a bi-partisan Ohio coalition is pushing for a
statewide vote on three constitutional amendments to guarantee that the kinds
of irregularities, fraud and theft that defined Ohio 2004 can never happen
again, and that the next Buckeye State election and vote count might actually
be fair and honest. Led by former Republican Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy
Douglas, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party Paul Tipps, Ohio State
political science Professor Emeritus Herb Asher and the Ohio Civil Service
Employees Association President Ron Alexander, the campaign is hoping to put
three constitutional amendments on the November 2006 ballot.
One amendment would remove the Secretary of State from any
role in administering statewide elections. This would outlaw the kind of
conflict of interest that tainted Ohio in 2004, when Blackwell worked as
co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign while controlling the state's vote count,
a dual role many believe he used to wrongly hand Ohio -- and the presidency -- to
George W. Bush.
A second amendment would create a new five-member
redistricting commission. Two members from each major party and one independent
would take responsibility for drawing up the congressional districts now being
controlled by partisan legislatures.
A third amendment would restrict a new Ohio law allowing
corporations to give up to $10,000 directly to political candidates. The law
was rammed through by Ohio Republicans in an attempt to give wealthy donors a
dominant position over labor unions and grassroots groups in future political
This attempt by many of Ohio's respected political elders to
restore balance, dignity and reliability to the state's elections may be the
opening salvo of widespread revulsion against Ohio's evangelical right-wing
corruption and abuse that gave the 2004 election to George W. Bush.
The Mainstream Press Is Silent No More
Still, the battle over the bizarre 2004 election results in
Ohio continues to rage. Karl Rove and George W. Bush, with the acquiescence of
some Democratic Party leaders, are orchestrating a cover-up as, simultaneously,
shocking new evidence is emerging and a few mainstream media sources are
beginning to report the story of a possible election theft.
A headline in the Akron Beacon Journal, for instance,
screams: "Analysis Points to Election 'Corruption': Group Says Chance of
Exit Polls Being So Wrong in '04 Vote is One-in-959,000." This report,
signed by 12 statistical scholars and social scientists, should have sparked
more interest in a nation purporting to be "the world's greatest
The Irish Times noted that, "The Internet is still
flickering with allegations of a conspiracy to steal the election, fueled by
the discrepancies between exit polls that predicted Kerry would win by a margin
of 3 percent and the official results which saw Bush win by a margin of 2.5
Investigative reporter Christopher Hitchens' article "Ohio's
Odd Numbers" in Vanity Fair stated, "Given what happened in that key
state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a
court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines."
Prior to the election, Paul Krugman, warned in a New York
Times article: "It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for
the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the
challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a
badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at
computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.
When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The
challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and
election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could
shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.
This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a
recent election in Riverside County, California . . ."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that presidential
candidate John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, told a Seattle luncheon group
that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines," in reference
to the commonly used central computer tabulators that count the votes on
Robert Koehler of Tribune Media Services published perhaps
the best piece entitled "The Silent Scream of Numbers: The 2004 election
was stolen, will someone please tell the media?"
President Jimmy Carter actually mentioned the "f"
word -- fraud -- recently in the Washington Post in reference to reforming the
U.S. election system.
And even John Kerry finally acknowledged the obvious when he
returned to the site of his concession speech in Boston and told the League of
Women Voters, "Last year too many people were denied the right to vote;
too many who tried to vote were intimidated."
Walled Off in Warren County
The Free Press is printing for the first time a hand-drawn
map from an employee of the Warren County government. The employee, who wishes
to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, communicated to the Free Press
thoughts on what happened on Election Day in the county that received national
attention by declaring a "homeland security alert" while the votes
were being counted.
With the media and independent election observers "walled
off," as the Cincinnati Enquirer described, the employee claims that "some
ballot boxes were taken to the holding area" where they were not monitored
by election officials. The Warren County employee referred to the person
supervising the unauthorized warehouse as a "Republican Party hack."
The employee is concerned that it would have been easy to "stuff"
the ballot boxes or that "signatures could have been forged in the
unauthorized holding area."
The anonymous employee told the Free Press that testimony
would be provided if subpoenaed. A list of questions that remain unanswered in
Warren County was also supplied: Which precinct ballot boxes were taken to the
unauthorized holding area? Were officials from the Board of Elections present
in the holding area? When were the ballots taken from the holding area to the
check-in tent that was erected temporarily to count ballots? If Warren County
was under a state of emergency, then why weren't any metal detectors engaged?
The FBI has denied that there was any homeland security threat on Election Day.
At a November 18 Cincinnati public hearing investigating
Ohio election irregularities, Liz Kent, a Democratic challenger from Warren
County, testified under oath: "Warren County is the county that at the
last minute, they barred the media from watching the vote counting on election
night, claiming there was a level 10 homeland security threat. . . . The place
I was a challenger in was a precinct that was in an elementary school that was
within 300 yards of the Board of Elections. There was another elementary school
directly behind that which was even closer to the Board of Elections, and we
had two precincts voting in these.
" . . . My biggest complaint is the fact that no
politicians from Warren County ever told any of the citizens that there was a
homeland security threat, that we were of increased levels. They never used the
color system, whatsoever. I talked to a representative at the Board of
Education and they were never told of an increased threat level to the citizens
or could be to the students within 300 yards of the Board of Elections."
Add to this, the under oath testimony from Columbus,
Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and the Youngstown area regarding the long lines
in poor and minority areas on Election Day, the Mighty Texas Strike Force
allegedly threatening and intimidating would-be voters in addition to a
reported 10,000 Republican lawyers and poll challengers, what emerges is
chaotic disruption favoring Bush and Cheney.
The Rise of Rove
Such chaos has been a long-standing trademark of Karl Rove,
Bush's key campaign strategist. As James Moore and Wayne Slater write in Bush's
Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, "Rove and [Lee]
Atwater's plan, supported by a faction within the College Republicans sometimes
called the Chicago Boys, took as a point of pride its influence on the gears
and levers of the organization."
"Atwater and the Chicago Boys decided the best way to
win an election was to make sure the votes that counted were their votes. There
was suddenly a flurry of challenges at the credentials committee, which went
into the night," write Moore and Slater.
The eerie similarities between Warren County and Rove's
ascendancy as head of the College Republicans are further mirrored in a quote
by his opponent Robert Edgeworth, "The credentials committee savagely went
through and threw out, often on the flimsiest of reasons, most of my
Prior to becoming executive director of the College
Republican National Committee, Karl Rove, according to the Washington Post, had
been under investigation by George Herbert Walker Bush for allegedly teaching "political
espionage" and "dirty tricks" during weekend seminars for
College Republicans during 1971 and 1972.
Bush the Elder was then serving as chair of the Republican
National Committee before going on to represent U.S. interests in China and to
direct the CIA. Some suggest the Rove investigation may have been more in the
order of verifying a promising resume.
Kevin Phillips, author of American Dynasty: Aristocracy,
Fortune And The Politics Of Deceit In The House Of Bush, offers that dirty
tricks and espionage are merely a standard part of Bush family electioneering "with
a four-generation relationship to the intelligence community and a
three-generation tie to the CIA"
"The late Lee Atwater, chief political advisor to the
elder Bush, and Karl Rove, strategist for the younger Bush, friends and
collaborators, were both devotees of Machiavelli and The Prince, hardly
a coincidence," Phillips writes.
Phillips, a key Republican strategist and architect of
Richard Nixon's southern realignment strategy, notes, "The Bushes appear
to be a family that approaches a presidential election as something to be won
with a CIA manual, not earned with commitment to Lincolnian precepts or popular
Whitewash with a Black Face
The current Bush-orchestrated cover-up of Ohio's
presidential election fiasco is fashioned much like a CIA covert operation.
Initially, Bush partisans and media allies denounce as "conspiracy
theorists" anyone who mentioned the irregularities, probable exit poll
results and precinct data suggesting election fraud in Warren, Clarmont, and
The emergence of phony non-partisan voting rights organizations
mark the second phase of re-writing Ohio's 2004 election history. On the
afternoon of Friday, March 18, Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney, Chairman of
the U.S. House Administrative Committee, issued a press release announcing a
hastily called hearing investigating Ohio presidential election irregularities.
Little noticed at the time, except for Brad Friedman at bradblog, was the appearance of the
self-proclaimed voting rights advocate Mark F. (Thor) Hearn, II. Speaking on
the last panel, Hearn claimed to represent the "non-partisan watchdog"
group, the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). The name sounded similar
to actual voting rights organizations like the National Voting Rights Institute.
Appearing with Hearn were two Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
professors, Ned Foley, a former Republican-appointed state solicitor general,
and Dan Tokaji.
On Monday, March 21, with no opportunity for citizen
testimony or any well-known voting rights organizations to participate, the
hearing proceeded at the Ohio Statehouse with Hearn playing the role of
protector of democracy.
What Hearn failed to tell the congressional committee was
that his organization, the ACVR, was newly formed and that he was national
election counsel to Bush-Cheney '04. Also, Hearn's nonprofit center's
publicist, Jim Dyke, is a former communications director for the Republican
Hearn told the committee that ACVR was a "voting rights
legal defense and education center committed to defending the rights of voters
and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the outcome of
elections." He then immediately identified "massive registration
fraud" as Ohio's key problem.
The former Reagan administration official proceeded to
resurrect an old Gipper trick of putting a black face on Ohio's election
disaster. Using an isolated incident, Thor thundered, " . . . while at the
NAACP operative Georgiana Pitts' home, a 'nicely dressed' man with a briefcase
came to the house to pick-up the voter forms. During the transaction Chad was
asked to step into the other room while Pitts gave the nicely dressed man the
voter registration forms. Ms. Pitts, who paid Chad the crack cocaine for the
fraudulent voter registrations has since turned up dead from a drug overdose."
Machiavellian aficionados know that political perception
creates reality. Just like the Gipper's infamous quote about a "welfare
queen" spitting out babies while on the dole, Hearn's intent was to plant
the image of the nation's oldest civil rights group bribing blacks with cocaine
to destroy American democracy.
Hearn and Rove know that one racist image trumps 100,000
blacks waiting in the rain in three to seven-hour long lines in Ohio's urban
cities. The Washington Post estimated between 15-20,000 people left the lines
in Columbus alone, after waiting for hours. The conservative Columbus Dispatch
editorial board immediately dismissed Hearn's claim as not the real problem.
Foley, Tokaji and Hearn were all recently named academic
advisors to the Commission on Federal Election Reform, now known as the
How Hearn, who does not list a single academic appointment
on his posted resume, and his last degree was a J.D. in 1986, qualifies as an
academic, remains a mystery, as does the source of the Moritz College Election
Law Project funding. On the Moritz website, there is Hearn's testimony
alongside that of Professors Foley and Tokaji.
Although privately admitting that he has no expertise in
exit polling, Tokaji has continued to comment on the irrelevancy of the exit
On Friday, April 15, Cliff Arnebeck, one of the Moss v. Bush
attorneys who challenged Ohio's presidential results, was disinvited from an
Ohio Citizen Action forum at the Moritz College of Law, sponsored by the
Election Law Project.
Had Hearn been a real non-partisan voting rights advocate,
he would have been familiar with the work of Mike Swinford, who works with Ohio's
Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE-OH).
In Knox County, where Kenyon College students finished
voting at 4 a.m. only after a
court order forced the polling site to remain open, it was not blacks who were
engaged in fraudulent voting in the overwhelmingly white county. Swinford found
that at the nearby conservative evangelical Mount Vernon Nazarene College, five
miles from Kenyon, 186 registered voters used the business address of 800
Martinsburg for their voter registration.
Swinford issued a report noting that: "In Nov 2004, 46
of the 186, voted [having] . . . no second/mailing address. . . . Using the
business address instead of a resident address violates fed and state law."
The names of all 46 voters documented in the Knox County Board of Elections
records were forwarded to the Free Press.
Blackwell, like Hearn, told Rep. Ney's committee that his
key objective was to prevent "fraud." Yet, as the co-chair of the
Bush-Cheney campaign, the Ohio Secretary of State has displayed little interest
in fraud at right-wing Republican Christian campuses.
Eyewitness Claims Blackwell Busy on Election Day Delivering
the Vote to Bush
A Free Press reporter was present when Professor Robert
Destro, Dean of Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America,
detailed Blackwell's Election Day activities at a Lenten presentation. Destro,
who claimed to be in the secretary of state's office election night, described
Blackwell as "panicky." He told the audience that Blackwell believed
early in the evening that Bush was losing Ohio. Figuring Bush had lost the city
of Cleveland, Blackwell "began to plot out with colored magic markers
possible voter turnout in suburban counties."
Destro relayed the story as a supporter of Blackwell, yet
never questioned why Ohio's top election officer would be focusing his energies
on Election Day towards getting President Bush elected, while chaos reigned
throughout Ohio's inner city polling places.
In March 2004, Blackwell had issued a release celebrating
the fact that the secretary of state's office for the first time had the
capacity for instant data exchange with the county boards of elections.
Unlike the exit pollers who predicted Kerry's victory,
Destro attributed Bush's statistically improbable and unprecedented win to the
morality issues in suburban Ohio.
Destro is a board member of the Marriage Law Foundation, set
up to provide legal support and resources against any lawsuits challenging
state bans on gay marriage. Blackwell, as the co-chair of Issue One, which was
for constitutionally banning all forms of domestic partnership in the state,
was also busy on Election Day sending phone messages around Ohio, according to
the Associated Press.
Enter Petro -- the Enforcer
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, long known as the Republican
Party's enforcer, jumped into the election fray by seeking to sanction the Moss
v. Bush public interest attorneys.
Petro, first as state auditor and now as attorney general,
is running in the gubernatorial race. In violation of lawyerly protocol, Petro
released the announcement concerning his motion for sanctions against the Moss
v. Bush attorneys to the media before he notified the attorneys.
Petro told the media that the Moss v. Bush attorneys needed
to be "punished" and the attorney general needed some ink in his
battle for governor with the legendary Kenneth "Inkwell." Petro's
motion to sanction the attorneys appears not to be motivated by any significant
cost incurred to the state of Ohio. Costs were minimal as Chief Justices Moyer
and Maureen O'Connor moved slowly on the matter making the case moot after Bush's
A public records request yielded the following information
from Petro's office: Arthur J. Marziale, Jr., assistant attorney general, spent
15.25 hours working on the Bill Moss v. George W. Bush election challenge, but
spent more time, 20.25 hours, attempting to sanction the public interest
attorneys who filed the case. In the companion case, Bill Moss v. Thomas J.
Moyer, Marziale spent 0 hours working on the case since Justice O'Connor
blocked discovery. Marziale spent all his time, 7.5 hours, on the motion for
sanctions. Also, Richard Coglianese spent one hour reviewing "Moyer's
Blackwell now looms as an obstacle to the Petro family's
meteoric rise from Brooklyn, Ohio. Jim Petro's older brother, J. William Petro,
served as co-chair of the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign in Ohio. He was rewarded
with an appointment as U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio
in 1982, but was fired after charges that he leaked confidential information to
reputed organized crime associates. He was found guilty of criminal contempt of
court in 1985, but the former state horse racing commissioner is remembered
every year at the running of the J. William "Bill" Petro Memorial for
three-year-old fillies at Thistledown track.
Early in April, Erie County Prosecutor Kevin J. Baxter
announced an investigation into whether the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
broke the law during its recount of ballots in the November presidential
election. As the evidence mounts of another stolen election and the mainstream
media slowly begin to unravel the story, there's a chance of further, more
in-depth criminal investigations.
Blackwell and his theocratic juggernaut may yet be derailed.
Employees and former employees from the secretary of state's office continue to
claim that Blackwell repeatedly violated Help America Vote Act (HAVA) laws.
Perhaps Blackwell will be forced to remain silent as he invokes the Fifth
Fitrakis was one of the four attorneys in the Moss v. Bush case.