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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, July 29, 2014
'Green News Report' 7/29/14
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Obama Admin approves sonic cannons for offshore oil exploration; Bizarre weather across U.S.; CO judge nixes fracking ban; PLUS: Neil Young wants your help in the rainforest...
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'Green News Report' 7/22/14
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HBO's Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
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Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
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'Green News Report' 7/17/14
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

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So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

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FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Another Resignation Leaves Only the Chair of Both the Ohio Republican Party and Cuyahoga's Election Board After SoS Demands All Resign in State's Most Democratic County...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2007 7:36pm PT  

One more of the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, Board of Elections directors, Republican Sally Florkiewicz, has stepped down this afternoon. Her resignation leaves just one member, the board's chairman, Bob Bennett, left to fight the demand by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that all board members resign in the wake of a years-long string of elections disasters, two criminal convictions related to the recount of the 2004 Presidential Election, and a new criminal investigation which was launched last week into newly-revealed administrative election improprieties and irregularities in the county.

The resignation of Florkiewicz from the board of Ohio's most Democratic county leaves only Bennett --- who is the chair of both the Election Board and the state's Republican party --- to fight the order by Brunner. A hearing will be held next Monday concerning the complaint filed along with the SoS's resignation demands, after which Brunner is free to fire Bennett directly, according to state law. As ever, the members of Ohio's supposedly "bi-partisan" boards of election have always served at the pleasure of the SoS, who, for years, was the highly partisan right-winger and co-chair of Ohio's Bush/Cheney 2004 committee, J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Brunner replaced Blackwell last November after the former SoS was thoroughly rejected by Ohio voters in his bid for Governor.

"Regrettably, the lone board member who has refused to resign will face removal," Brunner said in a statement posted to the SoS website late this afternoon. As to today's resignation, she added, "It's unfortunate that Ms. Florkiewicz was unable to resign until faced with a complaint to remove her from the board."

While the board's two Democratic members resigned last week not long after receiving Brunner's request, an official in Ohio closely following the matter has told The BRAD BLOG that Florkiewicz exited her post today with anything but grace.

"The Secretary of State has decided to use the Cuyahoga County Board of Election to advance a partisan agenda," Florkiewicz contended in her resignation letter, "and I am not willing to be used as a political statement."

But one of our sources wonders how the request to remove "2 D's and 2 R's demonstrates a partisan agenda"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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They Were Warned To Resign or Come What May...And So It Shall Be...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2007 12:53am PT  

The Year of Accountability continues apace. In a statement released Thursday Ohio's new Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, lays out the case against the two remaining Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members.

On Wednesday, The BRAD BLOG reported that Brunner would be personally delivering termination notices to members of the board after she'd sent notice, asking for their resignations, on Monday. That came in the wake of the conviction and sentencing of two county elections works for rigging the 2004 Presidential Recount, and a subsequent, newly announced criminal investigation in the county this week.

One of the two Democrats on the board resigned Wednesday, as requested, and the other resigned Thursday. This leaves Bob Bennett, the state Republican Party chair and chairman of the board in Ohio's most Democratic-leaning county, as well as the board's other Republican member, Sally Florkiewicz. They're the only two remaining hangers-on. And as a witness to Bennett's public statement yesterday described it to us, he was "raving" and succeeded in even shocking many of the Republicans present by blaming everyone but himself for the county's string of failed elections.

Bennett's recalcitrance at leaving has led Brunner to begin spelling out precisely why they are being fired. The list of accusations against the two remaining members will be aired in full during an April 2 hearing and, according to the SoS's statement, includes "numerous instances of misfeasance, nonfeasance and violations of state election law." Among them:

· Failure to adopt adequate procedures for election recounts resulting in the felony convictions of two board employees.

· Failure to manage competently the board's financial affairs.

· Failure to ensure the efficient administration of elections in 2004 through 2006.

· Failure to ensure an acceptable level of performance of voting equipment.

· Election administration in Cuyahoga County has led to a lack of public confidence in elections in the county.

After the April 2 hearing, a report will be issued to Brunner by the appointed hearing officer, William Owen, the first assistant prosecuting attorney of Delaware County. According to the statement, she will then rule on the removal of Bennett and Florkiewicz, as "under state law, the secretary of state may 'summarily remove' board members for cause, upon complaint and hearing."

We'll note again here --- despite the claims of former SoS J. Kenneth Blackwell and other Buckeye State officials in the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential Election disaster in the state who said nothing untoward could happen anywhere in Ohio due to their "bi-partisan elections boards" --- all such board members always served at the pleasure of the SoS. Many of them, therefore, were loath disobey or incur the wrath of Blackwell, who was also state co-chair for Bush/Cheney '04, in light of his horrendous, partisan oversight.

What goes around, comes around, Mr. Bennett. Consider the worm now turned.

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Election Results of Early Voting Found Printed Prior to Election Day
NATIONWIDE EFFORT? - Identical Situation Recently Discovered in Pima County, AZ...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2007 7:19pm PT  

Another criminal investigation has begun in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where two elections officials were found to have rigged the 2004 Presidential Election recount.

A special prosecutor has now been appointed to look into the early printing of absentee ballot and early voting election results prior to Election Day in 2006. As well, the investigators will be looking into a network cable which was left plugged into a tabulator computer overnight, allowing for unauthorized access all night long.

Fox 8's I-Team has a good video report.

As well, The BRAD BLOG has learned that Ohio's new Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, will be personally delivering termination notices to the county's four Board of Elections members tomorrow. On Monday, Brunner demanded the resignation of the entire board in Ohio's most Democratic-leaning county. The head of that election board, Bob Bennett, is also the chair of the Ohio Republican Party. He has vowed to fight Brunner in court, which, we're told by sources, she welcomes.

It should be noted that the illegal printing of election results prior to Election Day was recently discovered as well by Election Integrity advocate John Brakey, down in Pima County (Tucson), Arizona. That discovery has led to a lawsuit currently in hot progress down there.

Was a nationalized effort in place to print out election results prior to elections, to allow for the last-minute pinpointed targeting of Get Out the Vote efforts? We'll stay tuned...

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56 of 125 Machines Tested, after Voter Complaints, Incorrectly Registered Votes!
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2007 3:35pm PT  

Finally. Someone is actually bothering to test the voting machines which voters have been complaining about as flipping their votes for years. In Montgomery County, OH, where an official complaint was recently filed by 20 voters who claimed vote-flipping on their Diebold DRE touch-screen systems, comes this refreshing, if disturbing, report from today's Dayton Daily News...

DAYTON — After two days of tests, the results are in: About 2,500 people cast ballots in November on 56 malfunctioning electronic touch-screen voting machines in Montgomery County, said Steve Harsman, county board of elections director.

He said it is impossible to know how many people finalized their electronic ballots without realizing that the Diebold Elections Systems machines were inaccurately registering their votes.
...
"No other counties in Ohio have done this analysis yet," said Ellis Jacobs, senior attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality. "My guess is now that we've done it here and found there were real problems, it will encourage boards of elections in other counties to do this same investigation."

From Jacobs' lips to God's ears.

Oh, and there's this little tidbit from the story:

Harsman said several malfunctioning machines were clustered at certain precincts, indicating they may have been damaged during delivery by a trucking company that hauls the machines to the polls.

Ah, yes. The trucking company dunnit! That's the ticket!

(Hat-tip again to BRAD BLOG reader "A Concerned Citizen" for the heads up!)

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Robert Bennett, Ohio's GOP Chair and President of the Board of Elections in Ohio's Most Democratic County, Vows to Stay On
Growing Battle Underscores a Host of Other Myths, Disinfo Campaigns Concerning Buckeye State Election Administration...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2007 12:21pm PT  

Just out from AP...

CLEVELAND (AP) - All four election board members for Cuyahoga County, troubled by recount rigging charges and voting machine problems, have been told to resign or face being fired, a state official said Monday.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said she called the four board members of Ohio's most populous county late Sunday, asking them to leave by close of business Wednesday.
...
Brunner, a Democrat, said new leadership is needed in the county before the 2008 presidential election. She said that if the board members don't resign by her deadline, they would face public hearings and removal.

The board's chairman, Robert Bennett, is also chairman of the state GOP in Ohio. His term on the board ends in 2010. The other board members are two Democrats and one Republican.
...
Bennett said Monday he plans to finish his term.

"We are making progress on our major goal, which is to restore voter confidence in Cuyahoga County elections," he said at a news conference

The issue comes in the wake of two Cuyahoga County Election Officials recently found guilty of rigging the 2004 Presidential Election recount and subsequently sentenced to the maximum 18 months in prison after they refused to cooperate with the state's special prosecutor, Kevin Baxter.

Both Baxter and the district court judge, Peter J. Corrigan, indicated they believed the conspiracy to game the recount was part of a larger, higher-reaching conspiracy. "It seems unlikely that your superiors wouldn't know what you were doing," Corrigan declared during the sentencing.

Brunner told the Plain-Dealer this morning that the convictions were "so serious that I don't think I had any alternative" but to request the resignations of the entire board. "It has to do with public confidence and perception," she said.

In a news conference this morning, Bennett vowed to fight Brunner in court rather than leave on his own accord.

Cuyahoga County's then-Election Director, Michael Vu, who was not charged in the incident but has since resigned, had previously admitted that sealed ballot boxes were opened and secretly counted prior to the state-mandated recount in order to assure the recount would not reveal any inconsistencies with the officially reported results. He has since recanted his original story.

After the recent sentencing, Bennett, who was ultimately responsible for overseeing the convicted elections officials --- supposedly one Republican and one Democrat --- who rigged a presidential election recount in his county said, incredibly enough, "the convictions are a travesty of justice."

The issue also underscores an important point we've been trying to make for years: Despite the claims by disgraced former Buckeye State SoS J. Kenneth Blackwell and his operatives (including Bennett) for the travesty that occurred in 2004, which suggest that Ohio's supposedly "bi-partisan" structure of county elections boards --- theoretically all comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats each --- prevents any partisan malfeasance, those boards and the officials who work under them have always served ultimately at the pleasure of the state SoS. That power and pressure were wielded frequently by Blackwell during his tenure, resulting in a host of not-so-bipartisan decisions and oversight from Ohio elections officials in 2004 and beyond.

UPDATE: We heartily recommend "OhioRebel's" superb citizen journalist coverage at ePluribus Media, with many useful additional details. Would that the non-citizen journalists were as thorough!

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Judge Says He Believes the Conspiracy Goes Higher...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2007 6:20pm PT  

From AP...

CLEVELAND (AP) - Two county election workers were sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison for rigging a recount of 2004 presidential election ballots so they could avoid a longer, detailed review.

Jacqueline Maiden, 60, a Cuyahoga County election coordinator who was the board's third-highest ranking employee, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer, 40, each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Peter Corrigan allowed the women to remain free on bail pending appeal, but indicated he thought there was a more widespread conspiracy among election officials.

"I can't help but feel there's more to this story," Corrigan said.

And I can't help but feel the two election officials should have been sentenced to 18 years instead of months (though we understand that to be the max sentence), given the number of folks who have died in Bush's War since the 2004 Election and the fact that there were enough votes in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) alone to give the race to Kerry instead of Bush had the election been administered legitimately.

Just for the record, only 6 votes registered for Kerry instead of Bush in each of Ohio's precincts would have changed the result of that election.

Must run, so we'll refer you to our previous coverage when the two Ohio elections officials were found guilty in January for more details.

NOTE: Hat-Tip to "Ninepatch" over at DailyKos for tipping us off to the news of the sentencing. It's a rather sigh-inducing irony to get the news from dKos given it's proprietor Markos Moulitsas Zúniga had once shamefully banned all diarists, and purged their diaries, for daring to discuss and/or investigate the Ohio 2004 Presidential Election conspiracy. Thank you for continuing to make noise on these matters anyway those of you who have done so at dKos!

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County's Election Director, Steve Harsman, Wholly Clueless...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2007 11:35am PT  

And still another complaint registered against DRE/touch-screen voting systems. It's Diebold's turn again this time. According to the Dayton Daily News...

DAYTON — A legal rights advocacy group wants Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to investigate complaints from about 20 voters that Montgomery County's [Diebold] touch screen electronic voting machines changed their votes during the November election.

The avalanche of these types of complaints and lawsuits is just beginning, people. Will Congress and Elections Officials figure it out any time soon?

In any case, it doesn't look like Montgomery County's Election Director, Steve Harsman, has joined the rest of us here in Reality Land yet.

Even after the story linked above detailed a member of the board of elections who "said the machine he used would not record his vote" properly, Harsman told the paper that "he believes most of the problems can be explained by voters unfamiliarity with the new machines, rather than equipment failure."

The BRAD BLOG begs to respectfully disagree with Harsman. We believe most of the problems can instead be explained by Mr. Harsman's overfamiliarity with the bullshit he's been peddled by Diebold, in addition to a complete Election Director failure.

E-Voting - Game Over. We win. They lose. Move on. Get over it. The only question now is how long it takes them to get it and how many more elections jerks like Harsman are willing to see trashed (and how many voters he's willing to trash along the way.)

(Hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter "A Concerned Citizen")

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Big Doings in the Buckeye Today...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2007 3:48pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

As is too often the case, the proverbial shit seems most likely to hit the erstwhile fan whenever we're on the road and unable to cover the splatter sufficiently. This week has been no exception.

There is much movement in Ohio today as Michael Vu, the Election Director for Cuyahoga County, where two Election Officials were convicted two weeks ago of having rigged the 2004 Presidential recount, has now finally resigned from the Board of Elections after what is hopefully his last failed election.

The official BoE statement generously says: "Michael Vu has chosen to pursue future career growth and will resign as director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections March 1 of this year."

In related news --- and speaking of failed elections and "future career growth" --- the office of the new Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has now officially requested an audit of the SoS's office over the last two years as it was led by the corrupt former SoS and democracy-hater J. Kenneth Blackwell.

In addition to the $80,000 in bonuses given to employees on the way out the door, and the $250,000 settlement Blackwell agreed to concerning the 2004 Election last December (as we reported two weeks ago), Brunner expressed a new concern in her hand-delivered letter to the Republican State Auditor Mary Taylor: Shredded documents.

As reported today by the Columbus Dispatch:

Brunner cites five major concerns that prompted her request, including the revelation that a member of her transition team witnessed "many shredding machines in operation" while Blackwell was in office — and those machines are no longer in the office.

"We hope that this does not affect your ability to perform the complete and thorough audit that we request," Brunner wrote.

Blackwell shredding documents?! We're shocked! Shocked!

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Will be Questioned by Special Prosecutor Before Sentencing to Learn if Higher Ups Involved
RELATED: Kerry Drops Out of 2008 Race. In Advance This Time.
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2007 6:21pm PT  

From AP...

CLEVELAND (AP) — Two election workers in the state's most populous county were convicted Wednesday of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the votes.

A third employee who had been charged was acquitted on all counts.

Jacqueline Maiden, the elections' coordinator who was the board's third-highest ranking employee when she was indicted last March, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee.

Maiden and Dreamer also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty.

Golly. We're shocked. We wish we would have paid closer attention to that whole 2004 Ohio Presidential Election scam thing instead of ignoring it all these years.

Oh, wait, that was just about everyone else other than The BRAD BLOG, across the near-entirety of both the MSM and the bulk of the Progressive blogosphere.

That aside...as pointed out in the article, the two who were convicted in Cuyahoga County were still pretty small fish...

[Special prosecutor Kevin] Baxter said he intends to speak with Maiden and Dreamer before their scheduled sentencing on Feb. 26 to see if they wish to make any statements that might influence the sentence.

"We'd like to listen to them if they had anything to say, if anyone else was involved with this. We still haven't been able to determine that," he said.

A message was left Wednesday with elections board director Michael Vu.

By way of reminder, the recount --- the one that was rigged by Ohio Elections Officials --- came by way of the Green and Libertarian Party candidates, not by way of the Democrats or John Kerry. As well, the money to pay for the gamed recount was raised by folks on the Internet, not paid for out of the $15 million or so that Kerry reportedly had left in his campaign war chest after the "Election" in Ohio.

All of that, despite Kerry's continued and then broken promise to "Count Every Vote" in 2004.

These convictions occurred in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold of some 600,000 voters. Kerry "lost" the state of Ohio, according to the history books anyway, by just 118,000 out of some 5.5 million votes cast in the Buckeye State.

In related news, today Kerry decided to quit the 2008 Election, mercifully this time before it instead of afterwards.

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Another Suprise: $250k in Legal Settlements for 2004 Election, Helping to Leave Office $1 Million Short as New SoS Takes Helm
BRAD BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Memo Listing Bonus Payments to 19 of the Outgoing Buckeye State SoS' Office Pals, Legal Action May Follow...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2007 2:25pm PT  

Former Republican Ohio Secretary of State and failed Gubernatorial candidate, J. Kenneth Blackwell may be mercifully out of office in the Buckeye State, but it looks as if his former constituents will continue to pay for his atrocious tenure in the SoS office for some time to come. That, in addition to the price they are already paying, along with the rest of the country, by suffering George W. Bush who remains in office due, in no small part, to Blackwell's abhorrent mis-administration of the 2004 Presidential Election.

Last week it was revealed by the office of the new SoS, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, that Blackwell got in his last licks by authorizing some $80,000 in year-end bonus payments to 19 different staffers in his office. The BRAD BLOG has obtained a copy of that memo (posted in full at end of this article) which includes type-written payment amounts to 18 now-former employees, along with the hand-written addition of a payment to be made to Blackwell's obnoxious press spokesman and noted democracy-hater, Charles "Carlo" LoParo.

The previously unannounced bonuses, along with the additional surprise revelation that payment for a $225,000 litigation settlement made by Blackwell last December was suddenly due just after Brunner took office in January, has left the new SoS with a $1 million shortfall to meet standing obligations for the office between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30th.

Both matters were a shock to the incoming SoS who said the discoveries made her "kind of sick, really" as her office has suggested to The BRAD BLOG that there may be administrative and/or legal follow-ups to the issues. The Toledo Blade's coverage of the news as it was revealed last week is excellent.

The legal settlement, according to the Columbus Dispatch, was apparently "related to a lawsuit filed in November 2004 against Blackwell and the Lucas County Board of Elections on behalf of voters who did not receive an absentee ballot and were not allowed to cast provisional ballots."

All of that, of course, as the trial began last week against three Cuyahoga County Elections Officials who are accused of having rigged the 2004 Presidential Election recount while serving at the pleasure of Blackwell under County Election Director Michael Vu. Despite massive failures in 2004 and just about every election in the county since then, Vu has yet to be charged for that incident or any others.

The Bonus Memo

The memo detailing Blackwell's farewell bonuses was signed by his former chief financial officer, Dilip Mehta, who approved $7,765 --- a full extra month's pay --- for himself in the bargain. LoParo's payment of $1,702, one of the lowest amounts listed, was added in what appears to be a handwriting other than Mehta's. That payment is earmarked, according to the memo, for "Carlo."

Naturally, it was LoParo who mouthed off to the media in defense of his old boss and the free, tax-payer largess he received from the state. He claimed the payments were "severance packages offered to members of senior staff," and that "depending on the severance package received, 10 members of the staff agreed not to accept unemployment benefits, which is a net savings for the office in terms of total pay-outs."

But a Brunner staffer has told us last week that 3 former employees had already filed for unemployment benefits. While they had been initially unable to locate any such "severance packages" last week, as based on the 'executive transition document' received from Blackwell, a spokesperson today has informed The BRAD BLOG they have now discovered the elusive "mutual separation agreements" that were signed by Blackwell and the former employees.

The office is currently uncertain whether they will be honored or not.

We're told the letters of 'agreement of mutual separation' also counter LoParo's claims that there would be a net savings for the SoS office for unemployment compensation that wouldn't have to be paid. The letters signed by the three employees who have already applied for such benefits, stated "that it is not intended to affect an employee's eligibility for unemployment compensation," according to Brunner's office.

"It seems Carlo and Ken are telling two tales that don't jive," the staffer wrote in a recent email in reply to our query.

The comments to the media by LoParo --- who also signed one of the "mutual separation agreements" himself --- are quite directly contradicted in the final graf of the agreement which speaks to the matter explicitly as follows:

This voluntary agreement allows for separation without a record of termination and is not intended to affect an employee's eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits should these benefits be needed.

As far as we know, however, LaParo has yet to apply himself for unemployment benefits.

For 'Outstanding Service Through the Years'

LoParo went on to tell a number of media sources that the money was "given because the secretary felt taxpayers had been given outstanding service through the years, and it was within his prerogative to dispense. It's not unusual and not unprecedented in the private or public sector."

It was unclear whether the disastrous administration by Blackwell of Ohio's 2004 and 2005 and 2006 elections were a part of that "outstanding service through the years."

LoParo took his usual cheap shots at anybody with the temerity to catch the office, yet again, with their hand in the cookie jar or thumb on the scale. "I would just have to chalk (Brunner’s comments) up to overall inexperience," he was quoted as mouthing off to several media outlets.

The staffer we spoke with from Brunner's office noted that the public sector is different from the private sector where such bonuses might be more run of the mill. "While these bonuses are not illegal," the staffer wrote, "in contrast to Carlo's contention that they are appropriate and customary, that is pure unadulterated balderdash."

Ben Piscatelli, a spokesman from the Ohio Dept. of Administrative Services backed up the assertions of Brunner's office. "It is not common for a state agency or elected official to pay bonuses, but there is no state law or policy that forbids it," Piscatelli was reported as telling the Columbus Dispatch today.

Despite LoParo's claims, however, The Blade reported they were unable to confirm any such similar bonuses handed out to officials in 2006 throughout the rest of Ohio's government at year's end:

The governor's and state auditor's offices said no bonuses were paid by outgoing officials at the end of 2006. A spokesman for the attorney general's office was still checking, but said he was unaware of any.

The treasurer's office did not return a call. With one minor exception in the Senate, there were no year-end bonuses for legislative staff in 2006.

While there were no such bonuses to speak of in 2006, other than from Blackwell's office, a report by Ohio's 10TV last week, said that 65 state employees at the State House received a total of $89,000 in bonuses in 2005. That, in contrast with the more than $80,000 in bonuses handed out by Blackwell to just 19 of his own staffers on his way out the door.

Legal Action Against Blackwell May Be Coming

Brunner's office has told us they intend to request an audit from Ohio's new Republican State Auditor, Mary Taylor "to assess the state of our agency now that Blackwell is gone." Whether or not Taylor will be willing to potentially take on one of her party's own local titans remains to be seen. Today's Dispatch article also quotes a spokesperson from the office of Attorney General Marc Dann, saying their "would look into the matter if someone asks."

We imagine "someone" will.

The memo containing Blackwell's $80,000 bonus list for 19 now-former staffers follows in full below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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'Tens of Thousands Encountered Voting Machine Failures, Confusion over New ID Rules,' Reports Paper...
By Brad Friedman on 11/26/2006 2:35pm PT  

The New York Times' Ian Urbina (this time with Christopher Drew) continues to stay on point with his Electoral Failures coverage at the Grey Lady. Unlike Urbina's last report, this time he wasn't undermined by the Times headline writers. (Does anyone with a hard copy of the paper know what page this was reported on, btw?)

To his additional credit, he didn't use the word "glitch" even once. Thank you, Ian. Here are a few highlights from his piece in today's paper...

After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation’s voting system, this month’s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

Of course, BRAD BLOG readers will remember our desperate call for "Emergency Paper Ballots" here in the weeks prior to the election. On that, Urbina reports...

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots.

Wow. Who could have predicted that?!

And there's more...Of course, the "experts" (word used very cautiously!) are beginning to notice that things on Nov. 7th were worse than they had originally understood. "Voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked," reports the Times.

So how bad were they? How about 60,000 missing votes in Florida, bad. 20,000 voters who couldn't vote in Colorado, bad. Or in Arkansas, where "election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000," bad.

And then there's the erstwhile election "expert" Doug Chapin of Electionline.org whose "expert" opinion ensures his presence in just about any mainstream media coverage of these matters. Mr. Chapin continues, on schedule, working all sides of the street in Urbina's piece. It's a tricky juggling act for this "expert" --- mustn't offend the Voting Machine Companies or the Elections Officials who pay his bills, or even, to a lesser extent, the Election Integrity advocates who might just call him a phony if he's not careful --- but, as John Gideon pointed out in yesterday's DVN, even Chapin's having a difficult time avoiding the obvious:

"If the success of an election is to be measured according to whether each voter’s voice is heard, then we would have to conclude that this past election was not entirely a success," said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan election group that plans to release a report Wednesday with a state-by-state assessment of voting. "In places where the margin of victory was bigger than the margin of error, we looked away from the problems, but in 2008 we might not have that luxury."

And the award for "Understatment of the Year" goes to...

UPDATE 9:01pm PT: Reader Adele writes to tell us that Urbina's article was on "page 30 of 36 pages in the National section" of today's paper.

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And a Concession in New Mexico...Despite Our Own Personal Best Efforts...
By Brad Friedman on 11/22/2006 1:54pm PT  

Of course, we've been covering Christine Jennings's (D) refusal to concede and her stand in favor of the voters in the FL-13 fiasco. And though we haven't mentioned it lately, vote-rigging whistleblower Clint Curtis (D), rather than conceding, is convening a group of volunteers to verify the reported "results" of his race against the corrupt Tom Feeney (R) in FL-24.

But several other House candidates, from North Carolina to Ohio (but not New Mexico), are still fighting to assure the voice of the voters is accurately heard...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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BRAD BLOG: New Mexico's 1st Congressional District Should Be Re-Counted by Hand in Full!
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2006 3:50pm PT  

We hate to rely on such questionable fringe sources as Associated Press, but for lack of time today, we'll point to their coverage of the remaining "handful of close contests for the House" which are still undecided.

The races that AP describes as "still in dispute" are in NM, NC, FL, and two in OH (naturally).

In addition to the completely obvious and resignation-worthy mess in the FL-13 race, The BRAD BLOG would draw particular attention to the less-discussed contest in New Mexico's 1st Congressional district. We've been plowing through first-hand accounts sent our way detailing the disasterous state of conditions in the counting rooms out there where there's a very close race between incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson (R) and her opponent Patricia Madrid (D).

Based on the exceedingly detailed reports we've read so far of the (ahem) less-than-optimal-or-accurate initial tally of votes (yes, Bernalillo County, we're talking to you), we'd suggest any recount of that race must be done as a complete hand count of all ballots in order to assure the final result actually resembles the intention of New Mexico's voters.

But we just may be radical that way.

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Legal Resources Being Gathered by National Party to Challenge Close Elections Where Dems Currently Trail
Other Candidates, Citing Concerns About Voting Machine Failures, Also Refusing to Concede Until All Votes Can Be Verified...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2006 3:22pm PT  

Just off the phone from a DNC insider --- very much in a position to know --- who says the following races are being considered, as of this afternoon, to still be very much in play by the DNC (* = Incumbent, Results shown latest reported by state websites as available):

NC-8: Larry Kissel (D) 60,016 / Robin Hayes (R)* 60,481
CT-2: Joe Courtney (D) 121,321 / Rob Simmons (R)* 121,151
FL-13: Christine Jennings (D) 118,739 / Vern Buchanan (R) 119,116
NM-1: Patricia A. Madrid (D) 103,376 / Heather Wilson (R)* 104,863
OH-15: Mary Jo Kilroy (D) 98,100 / Deborah Pryce (R)* 101,636
OH-2: Victoria Wulson (D) 112,952 / Jean Schmidt (R)* 115,817

The source believes that all of the above races, each of them currently very, very close, are winnable and the feeling is that they "could easily win three of those six."

In each --- except for CT-2, where Courtney is leading --- the Democratic candidate is currently trailing in the reported results as absentee, provisional, and paper ballots are still be canvassed. As well, challenges and recounts are underway in some of those races (we hope to have more detail shortly here on a couple of those races).

(UPDATE: Several readers have written to ask if other races beyond those mentioned above --- such as the U.S. House race in Washington state's 8th Congressional district between Democrat Darcy Burner and Republican Dave Reichert --- are now off the table as far as the DNC is concerned. The races reported above are the only ones named explicitly to us by the DNC sources. However, two different sources there have confirmed that they are largely driven by the folks on the ground in the states, and would urge that noise be made locally --- and loudly enough that higher-ups might hear it at the DNC --- in order to gain more attention from the national party to other such races still of concern.)

The source also adds that the DNC is considering whether or not to ask for contributions from the public to a legal fund to assure they will have the funds needed to provide full legal resources to thoroughly challenge each of those races.

As well, The BRAD BLOG has also learned the DNC is still keeping their eyes on the Colorado Secretary of State race between Ken Gordon (D) and Mike Coffman (R), given the problems revealed in Colorado's disasterous certification procedures for voting machines prior to the election, and their massive meltdowns on Election Day in Denver and elsewhere which caused thousands of voters to be turned away from the polls due to machine malfunction.

AP is reporting today that Coffman's lead is beginning to look insurmountable, though given the fact that Gordon's numbers in Denver alone outpace Coffman's by some 70 to 30 percent, the fact that Denver voters, specifically, were disenfranchised at such an alarming rate due to equipment failure on Election Day, certainly "exemplifies," as the source put it, the need for Election Reform across the country and the importance of Secretary of State races.

The six U.S. House races named above, of course, are just the federal races that the DNC considers "still in play," but there are innumerable local races and initiatives being challenged around the country, as another DNC source told The BRAD BLOG this morning. As well, there are a number of Congressional races where the candidates have, honorably, refused to concede until every vote is counted and accounted for.

Clint Curtis, the vote-rigging whistleblower who ran against Tom Feeney, the man he claims asked him to create vote-rigging software in 2000 (as The BRAD BLOG originally broke back in 2004 and whose story we've been following closely ever since) has issued a press release this morning saying that he will not concede in the race until every vote is accounted for.

"The right to vote and to have that vote counted accurately is the very foundation of our democracy, and I owe it to the voters in my district and the state of Florida to continue to push for accurate, honest elections," Curtis said in the news release. He points out that as a candidate, he "now has the legal standing to pursue an investigation into the anomalies," which he claims were reported during his race.

"I can accept that the citizens across the state of Florida were out of step with the rest of the country," added Curtis, "as long as we know that this election truly reflects their intent." The Florida Secretary of State's website currently shows Feeney leading Curtis 58 to 42 percent.

In California's 50th Congressional district, Francine Busby (D) has still refused to concede in her race against Brian Bilbray (R) in which she reportedly trails 54 to 43 percent. We applaud Busby's refusal to concede given the outrageously bad administration of the election across the entire San Diego County as overseen by Registrar Mikel Haas, one of the country's worst.

A Zogby poll taken on Election Day (and shortly thereafter) shows an unexplained 6 point disparity with the final results as we reported last week.

As reported earlier today, Haas's resignation was called for on Election Night by San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Jess Durfee after voters were disenfranchised across the county when Diebold touch-screen systems failed to work and not enough paper ballots were made available for voters. Many of those voters ended up voting on Spanish language paper ballots after English ballots had run out by 9am on Election Day; others simply gave up and went home or to work without being able to cast a vote at all.

We echo Durfee's call for Haas to step down immediately. San Diegans deserve honest and accurate elections in which the voters may have confidence in the reported results. Haas has, disgracefully, provided none of the above during his irresponsible tenure.

We originally reported that the Democratic candidate was trailing in the reported results in each of the six DNC-named races. In fact, Democratic candidate Joe Courtney in the CT-2 race is currently ahead in the results as reported so far. We've corrected the original misstatement in the article above. Further, AP is now reporting Courtney as the winner after a final canvassing of the ballots.

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Voting Machine Companies (as expected) Blame 'Human Error'... (True enough, since the idiots who created these machines, and agreed to use them are most likely 'human')
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2006 1:08pm PT  

First, they're not "glitches"...They are failures! This from AP...

Programming errors and inexperience dealing with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts early Tuesday, delaying voters in Indiana, Ohio and Florida and leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead.

In Cleveland, voters rolled their eyes as election workers fumbled with new touchscreen machines that they couldn't get to start properly until about 10 minutes after polls opened.

"We got five machines --- one of them's got to work," said Willette Scullank, a troubleshooter from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections board.

In Indiana's Marion County, about 175 of 914 precincts turned to paper ballots because poll workers didn't know how to run the machines, said Marion County Clerk Doris Ann Sadler. She said it could take most of the day to fix all of the machine-related issues.

Election officials in Delaware County, Indiana, extended voting hours because voters initially couldn't cast ballots in 75 precincts. County Clerk Karen Wenger said the cards that activate the push-button machines were programmed incorrectly but the problems were fixed by late morning.

Pennsylvania's Lebanon County also extended polling hours because a programming error forced some voters to cast paper ballots.

As expected --- and you'll be seeing and hearing a lot of this all night --- the Voting Machine Companies who have created the equivalent of Ford Pintos with these machine that "blow up" during normal use, no matter how careful a "driver" might be, are blaming "human error"...as opposed to themselves...and the election officials who were dumb enough to be suckered in by the wining and dining and false promises of the company lobbyists who are plying their insidious trade courtesy of your tax payer dollars...

But voting equipment companies said they hadn't seen anything beyond the norm and blamed the problems largely on human error.

"Any time there's more exposure to equipment, there are questions about setting up the equipment and things like that," said Ken Fields, a spokesman for Election Systems & Software Inc. "Overall, things are going very well."

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