I�m always amazed at the political career of Matt
Damschroder, Deputy Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. He�s
just been named to the bipartisan Committee to Modernize Voter Registration
Matt first came to political prominence in Columbus when he
managed the right-wing �Flag Lady�s� campaign for City Council. The visibility
of her little flag shop on High Street allowed her to do much better than
expected in a close defeat.
Matt went on from there to be known as �the chauffeur� -- the
guy who drove around and literally wheeled around former Franklin County
Republican Party Chair Michael F. Colley. He went from being Colley�s wheelman
to replacing Colley as the Franklin County Republican Party chair.
From there it was a short hop to the lucrative and
politically powerful position as director of the Franklin County Board of
Elections. In that post, Damschroder came to national prominence during the
infamous 2004 election. Readers of freepress.org will recall that Damschroder
distinguished himself by purging �felons� that weren�t convicted of felonies
from the voting rolls, particularly in Democratic strongholds, as well as shorting
voting machines from the inner city black wards.
His partisan actions as Franklin County BOE Director cost
John Kerry tens of thousands of votes in Ohio�s capital city. And when the
bidding was opened for new voting machines in Franklin County, Damschroder
accepted a $10,000 check in his BOE office made out to the Franklin County
Republican Party from a key Diebold salesperson, Patsy Gallina. Damschroder was
censured and suspended without pay for a month for this breach of ethics. His
job was only saved thanks to the intervention of the Democratic Party�s
ethically-challenged chair, Bill Anthony. The philosophy at the Franklin County
BOE is that an injury to one election official is an injury to all. Covering
each other�s asses, and donkeys, is their code of honor.
Prior to the 2008 election, Damschroder purged more than
300,000 voters from Franklin County�s voting rolls -- far exceeding any
election official in the state of Ohio. And purging more voters in his county
than were eliminated in 2004. Matt Damschroder was forced out by Ohio Secretary
of State Jennifer Brunner two days before the 2008 presidential primary.
Damschroder had openly defied Brunner�s directives, particularly one mandating
that voters be allowed to vote on paper. Damschroder hung on, as party hacks
often do, as deputy director.
In a just society, Damschroder would be busy repenting in
prison. But in the United States, he gets promoted for his incompetence and
corruption. Now Matt will be serving alongside former United Nations Ambassador
and Senator John Danforth, former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former
U.S. Reps Harold Ford, Jr. and Susan Molinari.
The goal of CMVR is to update the voting systems,
particularly registration. A key charge to the committee is to � . . . register
voters automatically while also maintaining safeguards against fraud,�
according to the Columbus Dispatch. I guess this is in the long tradition of
hiring computer hackers for security and bank robbers as advisors to banks to
prevent future thefts.
Ironically, the Columbus Dispatch seems to have missed the
articles that contained Damschroder�s scandalous behavior. Mark Niquette, as is
tradition, reports the Damschroder appointment as straight news as local boy
makes good. Without a hint of sarcasm he writes �Matthew Damschroder is one of
two local election officials on the bipartisan committee. . . .�
I figure a few unethical debacles on this committee and
Damschroder�s ready to lead the National Republican Party. After all, Rove�s
retired, isn�t he?
Fitrakis is the editor of freepress.org,
where this article first appeared, and also ran for governor of Ohio in 2006 on
the Green Party ticket.