Ohio Attorney Files Motion to Lift Stay in Ohio Case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v Blackwell
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."
Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S .Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."
"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.
The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and me, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio"...
According to Arnebeck, his expert witness, Stephen Spoonamore, "works for credit card companies chasing data thieves, identity thieves around the globe, and also consults with government agencies including the Secret Service, the Pentagon, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in criminal matters. [He's] really one of the top, and in fact the top private cop in the world on the subject of data security."
First, some background. The King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case was filed on August 31, 2006. At issue was "whether the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the Civil Rights Act, and the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been violated by the past and ongoing conduct of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in connection with past elections in Ohio."
A stay was previously entered into on joint motion of the parties, Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the plaintiffs, to support settlement discussions in the case. "At one point," Arnebeck noted this morning, "this was interrupted when the Secretary wanted to bring all the ballots that had been ordered preserved by Judge Marbley, bring them in to one location. When the ballots came in, there was significant omissions and reports of the destruction of some of the ballots."
The BRAD BLOG reported previously on some of some of the ballots missing from 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, despite the federal court order.
Arnebeck explained that part of the reason for the stay, at the time, was to allow the Ohio Attorney General to proceed first, as provided in Ohio House Bill 3 which states, in part:
...the attorney general may initiate criminal proceedings for election fraud under section 3599.42 of the Revised Code which results from a violation of any provision of Title XXXV of the Revised Code, other than Chapter 3517. of the Revised Code, involving voting, an initiative or referendum petition process, or the conducting of an election, by presenting evidence of criminal violations in question to the prosecuting attorney of any county in which the violations may be prosecuted. If the prosecuting attorney does not prosecute the violations within a reasonable time or requests the attorney general to do so, the attorney general may proceed with the prosecution of the violations with all of the rights, privileges, and powers conferred by law on a prosecuting attorney, including, but not limited to, the power to appear before a grand jury and to interrogate witnesses before a grand jury.
Arnebeck said that the Attorney General's office said they were ready to begin the investigation of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, and Arnebeck said he submitted a great deal of material to them, including "Bob's [Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman's] book on what happened in Ohio, documentation of the exit poll discrepancy, [and] John Conyers' report to the Congress which was the factual basis for the challenge to the electoral votes of the Ohio vote in January of 2005."
About a month later, the Attorney General's office contacted Arnebeck and asked him, "Who do you want to indict?"
Arnebeck explained that the AG's "concept of looking at this from a criminal standpoint was not to convene a grand jury and cast the net broadly and use the grand jury process to investigate and narrow the focus into the question of who may have tampered with those votes. But rather they wanted us to come to them with a more focused case."
Arnebeck then informed the AG that they were going to file the motion to lift the stay so that the plaintiffs "could proceed with the civil case in order to collect discovery to do that" and create a more focused case.
Fitrakis, who was also at today's presser, said that early on they went to Washington and met with the House Judiciary staff who agreed to come to Ohio in early March of 2007. Fitrakis informed Ohio's then-Attorney General Mark Dann's office, but the office never got back to them.
Arnebeck also explained that he met with Conyers within the last two weeks. He made the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee aware of what they have: new resources and information, and the assistance of Spoonamore to help the state of Ohio, the Congress, and the court understand what needs to be done to help secure the 2008 election.
Also, Arnebeck has sent out document "hold" notices. A hold notice is, essentially, a letter sent to the parties of a lawsuit informing them of their legal obligation to hold on to (and not destroy) all relevant documents, including electronic documents such as emails, pending the outcome of the suit.
Hold letters have been sent to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, asking them to hold documents relating to their activities to use corporate money to influence the Ohio Supreme Court elections. Another hold letter was sent to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking that he advise the federal government to hold emails from Karl Rove.
Arnebeck said "We think [Rove] is an individual who has been at the center of both the use of corporate money to attack state Attorneys General and their elections and candidates for the Supreme Court and their elections in the states, and also in the manipulation of the election process.
"We expressed concern about the reports that Mr. Rove destroyed his emails and suggested that we want the duplicates that should exist [be put] under the control of the Secret Service and be sure that those are retained, as well as those on the receiving end in the Justice Department and elsewhere, that those documents are retained for purposes of this litigation, in which we anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
Arnebeck said they are prepared "to go after the issues of election integrity in a very targeted way, as opposed to a casting of a fishing net. We're able to do some 'rifle shots.'"
Along those lines, Arnebeck plans to subpoena and depose GOP operative Michael (Mike) L. Connell, who as described by SourceWatch, is....
Chief Political Strategist and CEO of New Media Communications, Inc., a Republican website development and internet services firm based in Richfield, OH.
New Media's GOP clients are a "'Who's Who' of Republican politics", having provided campaign web services and Internet strategy for Bush-Cheney 2000/2004, as well as Republicans such as Dick Armey, Spencer Abraham for Senate 2000, Heather Wilson for Congress 2000/2002/2004, Rick Santorum for Senate 2000/2006, and John Thune for Senate 2002/2004 to name just a few. New Media also designed GOP.com for the Republican National Committee, RGA.org for the Republican Governors Association, and between two and three dozen state GOP sites.
According to Arnebeck, Connell "[D]esigns websites and he manages the information technology. Interestingly, he's done this for the Bush campaign of 2000 and the Bush campaign of 2004. Simultaneously, he was doing IT work for the State of Florida in 2000, and for the office of the [Ohio] Secretary of State in 2004.
"And just think of this: here's a person who is an instrument of a major presidential campaign simultaneously setting up the hosting of the votes in the Ohio election."
Arnebeck added: "We're not saying that he [Connell] did anything wrong in the sense of his conduct, but we're saying that these conflicting roles raise some issues."
According to Arnebeck, "Mr. Connell also worked with the various front groups for the US Chamber, tobacco industry front groups, and starting in 2000 after the New Hampshire primary, there was an unleashing of a variety of these Washington-based lobbying groups that created these phony grass-roots groups that attack candidates, supposedly independently. We believe there is clear evidence of a coordinated campaign in which Mr. Rove is involved, in which Mr. Connell is an instrument. And this emphasizes his value of a witness in bringing some of this together."
Indeed, Arnebeck believes that Connell's role in the suit, at least at first, will be that of a witness. "He, by virtue of his involvement in a variety of these roles that we're concerned with -- as a witness, he can provide a perspective. He's the one person who can bring a great deal of information together to better inform folks of what happened and what some of the vulnerabilities are and where some of the data security breaches may have occurred."
One of the more frightening aspects of Connell's work is that his company, Gov Tech Solutions, was the first private company to be allowed to put servers behind the firewall of the Congressional computer systems. This led to him creating and managing several powerful Committee IT networks, including those for the House Intelligence Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the House Committee on Rules. Of course, it is completely possible that the firewall could have been created with secret security gaps that can be exploited to hack into any congressional computer. If that has happened, every computer in any senate or congressional office is subject to hacking by Bush/Republican operatives.
Currently, Connell is running the IT operations for the McCain campaign. Isn't that a comforting thought...
Expert advisor Stephen Spoonamore, who among other things designs and runs computer programs to analyze and detect fraudulent financial activity for the world's leading credit card companies, said, "You cannot secure electronic voting. You set up a bunch of grandmothers to put together a bunch of computers once every two years, basically those machines are architected in such a manner to maximize their capacity [for] fraud.
"In the 2004 election, from my perspective, on any of the programs we run for any of my credit card clients, the results from the 14 counties, those are the sort of results that would instantaneously launch a credit card fraud investigation or a banking settlement investigation."
Spoonamore's reference to the "14 counties" refers to the so-called "Connelly Anomaly" in which down-ticket candidates got more votes than John Kerry. The name comes from the candidacy of C. Ellen Connelly, an African-American woman who was running for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2004. She was endorsed by pro-choice and civil rights groups, and was relatively unknown to Ohio voters, in addition to being vastly outspent by her opponent in the campaign. Yet, somehow Connelly got scores of thousands more votes than did John Kerry at the very top of the ticket.
Arnebeck said that "if you adjust for the [Connelly] anomaly or that situation, it's enough votes to have changed the outcome of the election. So the focus of our efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary of State, would be to find out who is responsible for that."
He targeted the Rapp family and the Triad Voting Systems company, who ran the tabulators in a number of Ohio counties in 2004, as those who need to be closely investigated.
"If it's the Rapp family and the programming of the [Triad] tabulators," Arnebeck stated, "we need to know that so that the Rapp family will be closely monitored, if not put in jail, before the 2008 election."
Spoonamore continued, "I am extremely confident in [our] analysis of the 2004 election anomalies because of the way the tabulators were programmed, and all were programmed by the Rapp family on Triad systems. So in my opinion, there should be an investigation launched into exactly what happened.
"There was an enormous number of strange activities in which Triad and the Rapp family were running around the state taking hard drives out of computers, putting in new hard drives, and posting poll results. And the reason all this was going on, I'm quite confident, was that the hard drives they were pulling out had fraudulent coding. Simple as that."
"Certainly if that happened at one of our banks, you could be arrested."
Spoonamore has told Arnebeck and the plaintiffs that there is a clear pattern of fraud. He said the Ohio 2004 election was "a frighteningly un-auditable system."
"When, in the Green Party recount, all of the sudden [people are] driving around the state pulling and swapping hard drives, they should have been in handcuffs that day," argued Spoonamore.
Arnebeck noted that Triad Voting Systems "has never been interrogated under oath in either a civil or a criminal context, to the best of our knowledge. There was an FBI investigation launched at the request of John Conyers, and very shortly a letter coming back from the FBI stating that they had found no problem. But it was very minimal and it appears to have been a politicized investigation, not a normal serious investigation by the FBI."
Spoonamore said that he knows the key FBI cyber investigation people "quite well, and they were certainly never involved [in the investigation Conyers requested], there was no hardware ever involved. So whatever investigation was launched, it was topical, but they never examined the equipment."
When the stay on the King Lincoln case is lifted, Arnebeck intends to depose Connell, key members of the Rapp family, and says that he will make Spoonamore available as an expert witness and advisor. After discovery, they will amend their complaint as needed and "focus on corrective actions that are necessary for the protection of the 2008 election."
More quotes from today's presser...
Spoonamore on vote counting: "What happens at the end of the day, all those votes are thrown into a magic box with one troll inside, the troll jumps out and says 'Here are your results! Ta-Da!!' That's it. There's no validation of the code, there's no authentication.
"With the Connelly Anomaly, if that was in a banking environment, instantaneously -- instantaneously! -- the entire system inside that box would be frozen. Any programmer who reviewed any of that code would be alerted, all the executives assisting in that process would be alerted, the hard drives would be frozen in place, extracted and immediately placed in forensic analysis. 'Cause somebody did something major."
Spoonamore again: "None of us [the American people] really want to confront the fact that there appears to be an extremely coordinated effort by a very small group of people to rig elections and take control of the executive branch."
"You can spend all day every day looking at this stuff and saying, 'Well that would certainly launch a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote.' Why?"
When asked by a reporter to respond to the fact that both Democratic and Republican Secretaries of State and elected officials will say that our elections are run on a bi-partisan system, Spoonamore responded, "No it's not. It's not a bi-partisan system. This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody. In my opinion, both sides [Democrats and Republicans] have no friggin' clue what they're talking about."
"The person who programs the code inside the machine will decide the results."
Spoonamore was asked, "Are you a Republican?" And his priceless response was "Yes, I've been a life-long member of the Republican party. Sadly." That prompted a burst of laughter from all assembled.
When a reporter asked Cliff Arnebeck what specifically he alleges Karl Rove did, Arnebeck said, "Karl Rove was involved in the Bush campaign for president in 2000. Our understanding is when they lost the New Hampshire primary, they were quite concerned and they made a decision to take the gloves off. Mr. Rove contact[ed] people with whom he had worked with in the industry, Grover Norquist and others, on behalf of the tobacco industry.
"At the time, the tobacco industry was fighting the Clinton administration $260 billion class action RICO case. That industry alone had a tremendous incentive to do whatever was necessary to kill that lawsuit. And George Bush, on Rove's recommendation, positioned himself as a reformer with results. Not meaning the McCain reform with campaign finance reform, but the Bush reform in Texas where they changed the composition of the Texas Supreme Court to be business-friendly and to effectively immunize corporations from meaningful tort liability.
"They turned these groups loose in South Carolina, they won South Carolina with a lot of independent expenditures and dirty tricks.
"Rove was the architect of a strategy to, in effect, undo the rule of law, turn business loose, free of government regulation.
"We certainly want to take his [Rove's] deposition. His deposition has never been taken. Mr. Conyers is currently seeking his deposition in regard to what he did...in terms of going after Governor Siegelman in Alabama. And Mr. Rove is currently evading the congressional subpoena for his testimony."