Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lobbyists Hack Your Elections

July 8, 2008
By Paddy Shaffer

Lobbyists Hack Your Elections (Part II)

E-Mail Suggests Convicted Felon Bob Ney Connived with Ohio Election Officials, OEJC Calls for Investigation

The Ohio Election Justice Campaign announced today that e-mail between Ohio lobbyist and Ohio election officials suggests that convicted felon Bob Ney connived with Ohio election officials to promote the agenda of lobbyists. E-mail disclosed pursuant to public records request by the Ohio Election Justice Campaign, which calls for an investigation into influence peddling in Ohio's elections.

Columbus, OH (PRWEB) July 7, 2008 -- An e-mail between a lobbyist for the Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) and county election officials suggests that convicted felon Bob Ney connived with election officials to promote the agenda of lobbyists, the Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC) announced today. The OEJC calls for an investigation into influence peddling in Ohio's elections.

The e-mail was sent by Aaron Ockerman of State Street Consultants, a registered lobbyist for the Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO), a corporation that promotes the business interests of Ohio election officials. He was a registered lobbyist for Election Systems & Software, ES&S, (ESS) in 2003.

Neil S. Clark and Paul Tipps, founders of State Street Consultants, were registered lobbyists for ES&S, 2002-04, and for Diebold (DBD), 2004 and 2005. Diebold rebranded itself as Premier Election Systems in 2007.

The subject of the e-mail was OAEO's response to the recommendations of the Ohio Legislative Ballot Security Committee, then studying the security of the electronic voting machines.

Attached to the e-mail was a letter from the leadership of the OAEO: Michael Sciortino, Director of Mahoning County Elections, located in Youngstown, Ohio in Northeast Ohio, and President of OAEO in 2004; and Keith Cunningham, Director of Allen County Elections, located in Lima, Ohio in Northwest Ohio and First Vice-President of OAEO in 2004.

The OAEO leadership sent this letter to the most powerful members of the Ohio Legislature, Speaker of the House Larry Householder (R) and Senate President Doug White (R).

In this letter, the OAEO leadership write: "Congressman Bob Ney, the primary sponsor of the Help America Vote Act and former member of the Ohio General Assembly, has expressed to us his apprehensions with the committee's recommendations. The OAEO shares many of those same concerns. We ask you to quickly, but deliberately, remove the doubts developed unintentionally by the Ballot Security Committee..."

The e-mail containing this letter, which was circulated by lobbyist Ockerman to the majority of election officials at the county level, also includes articles written across the state to support the position of the OAEO. Many are editorials with no author name: Cincinnati Enquirer, Mansfield News Journal, Toledo Blade, and Akron Beacon Journal.

Representative Bob Ney (R-OH) pled guilty to a conspiracy to commit multiple offenses, including honest services fraud, making false statements, and making false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives. Case No. 07-027,

Ney admitted that he engaged in a conspiracy where "he corruptly solicited and accepted a stream of things of value from Abramoff, Abramoff's lobbyists, and a foreign businessman, in exchange for agreeing to take and taking official action to benefit Abramoff, his clients, and the foreign businessman." The conspiracy began in "approximately 2000" and continued "through April 2004."

The above e-mail was sent by lobbyist Ockerman on April 13, 2004.

This e-mail was obtained pursuant to a public records request regarding the attempted legal block of the vote recount in Delaware County following the contested 2004 presidential election in Ohio.

At the time it was obtained, according to Paddy Shaffer, Director, OEJC, Delaware County election officials Janet Brenneman (director) and Kim Spangler (deputy director) expressed dismay at her request. When asked why, she was told it was because "these records had already been requested by someone else," suggesting that a parallel investigation was being conducted.

See for the Dan Rather report on touch screen voting and calls for a full congressional hearing on the possibility of commercial fraud by the voting machine companies. For background information, see Lobbyists Hack Your Elections: The OEJC Calls for Voting Systems Recall, Return, and Refund (Part I),

Ohio Election Justice Campaign Website:

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Authors Bio: Paddy Shaffer, Founder of the Ohio Election Justice Campaign, was the campaign manager for Bob Fitrakis's run for governor in Ohio in 2006.