Ties Between Abramoff and Diebold
It's been a long trek since Nov. 2, 2004 -- now getting shorter
by Robert Lockwood Mills
January 11, 2006
Dear Friends: It took the downfall of a lobbyist who dresses like a Hasidic rabbi one day and a baseball coach the next to make it happen. But if looks as if our 14-month-long effort to expose the fraud in Ohio that gave the 2004 to Bush is bearing fruit at last.
Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) was one of the architects of HAVA (Help America Vote Act). In that role he worked with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and others to reform certain election procedures that had arisen from the controversial 2000 election. But where electronic voting machines were concerned, the HAVA architects neglected accusations that they were "hackable" and focused instead on lesser issues, in particular making it easier for blind people to vote.
Diebold, Inc., from Ney's home state of Ohio, is the leading company in electronic voting machines. In response to public demand dating back to 2000 for verifiable paper trails to accompany its machines (similar to their ATM machines' transaction receipts), Diebold argued that it wasn't practical. Ney, using his Congressional clout, blocked every piece of legislation that would have mandated such paper trails, even after the 2004 election and reports from Ohio and elsewhere that hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of votes had been flipped from Kerry to Bush. As many of you know, I witnessed this very thing in Florida as a pollwatcher.
When Jack Abramoff began to spill his guts in connection with the charges against him as a crooked lobbyist, Ney's name surfaced immediately as one who received money and favors from him. One of Ney's more recent free trips abroad, financed by Abramoff, he struck it rich, winning $34,000 on a single $100 bet...quite convenient, because his credit card bills at that point had risen to over $30,000.
Well, it turns out that Ney's former chief of staff, one David DeStefano, became a Diebold lobbyist after leaving Ney's employ. He's a chatty sort, it seems. DeStefano bragged about access to "hard to reach public officials" (might he possibly have meant Ney?), after which Diebold paid at least $275,000 to Abramoff's former firm (they severed ties with him), Greenburg Traurig, for "lobbying services." Meanwhile, Ney was telling Abramoff's Indian tribe clients that he would insert "gambling language favorable to them" in HAVA.
Don't bother to ask what gambling casinos run by Native Americans have to do with elections. Chris Dodd vetoed the idea of putting any such language in HAVA, yet Ney continued to promise the Indian tribes, through Abramoff, that this was going to happen. The tribes then forked over additional monies to their friend Jack, who was insulting them in private conversations at his restaurant in D.C.
Diebold's C.E.O., Walden O'Dell, resigned a few weeks ago. He had become famous for promising to do "everything in my power" to guarantee Bush's re-election. On the same day he quit, the company was hit with two class-action suits alleging fraudulent misstatements about their election machinery going back to Oct. 22, 2003. At the end of that week a test conducted by a Florida County election commissioner (Leon County, where the state capital, Tallahassee, is located) proved conclusively that Diebold's election machines could be hacked by insertion of a simple software card.
The discovery process for these two suits is underway. It's a lead-pipe cinch that the plaintiff's lawyers are going to want to know about every contact between Ney, Abramoff, Diebold, and the Indian tribes. It's no longer possible for Ney and other G.O.P. flunkies to say that complaints about the 2004 election are the work of "conspiracy theorists."
Enron was a conspiracy theory in the beginning. We might now have an even bigger one on our hands, one affecting not only one firm's employees and heating oil customers in California, but the most massive fraud in American history, striking at the heart of our democratic process.
Published on Oregon Voter Rights Coalition (http://www.oregonvrc.org)