After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senator to replace the retiring Sen. Jim Bunning in the state of Kentucky. Paul, who has been endorsed by the likes of Sarah Palin, is running against Republican Party insider, KY Sec. of State Trey Grayson, who has been endorsed by the likes of Dick Cheney. Primary Election Day is set for May 18th.
Grayson's disturbing history of misrepresenting the truth in regard to certification of the state's electronic voting systems should be of great concern to Paul and his supporters, particularly given the state's rich history of confirmed election fraud by election insiders --- which includes tampering with e-voting systems to change voters votes --- and the fact that much of the state still uses electronic voting systems which are 100% unverifiable in any way, shape or form.
Of equal concern are the hand-marked paper ballot systems used in other parts of the state. Those electronic systems are also at risk to both simple, nearly undetectable manipulation by insiders as well as tallying errors, and have been found to feature serious security flaws highlighted in the past by the state's own former Republican AG. Even admissions by one of the voting machine companies, Diebold, that systems in use in the state did not meet certification requirements, were largely dismissed, and all but ignored for years by Grayson, the state's chief election official who will be overseeing his own election against Paul in May...
I had the pleasure to appear on San Francisco public radio's "Friday Media Roundtable" on their Your Call program today (heard on KALW in San Francisco and KUSP in Santa Cruz).
Along with the NYT's massive ACORN "Pimp" Hoax fail, we also discussed and critiqued media coverage of healthcare insurance reform, the latest in the U.S./Israel diplomacy theatrics, and even a bit on the guilty verdict for Kentucky election officials yesterday. Joining me on today's panel, along with host Sandip Roy, were Alex Wayne of Congressional Quarterly and Sherine Tadros of Al Jazeera English.
The audio is posted below, and I believe it's well-worth giving a listen to --- particularly in regard the direct disagreement that Wayne and I got into over the media's failure (as I see it, though he didn't), to have covered the substance of healthcare insurance legislation, while devoting an inordinate amount of coverage to the politics of that debate instead.
(Continue reading below for more on that, more on how the NYT's Public Editor Clark Hoyt illustrated the very crux of the media's failure on so many stories of importance to the public, and for the audio of the show itself)...
All eight defendants in Clay County, Kentucky's election fraud trial have been found guilty today by a federal jury. Six of those eight were high-ranking election officials, including the county clerk, a circuit judge and the school superintendent. The conspirators were charged with having manipulated federal elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006 by buying and selling votes and manipulating electronic voting machines.
According to AP, each of the now-convicted felons could face up to 20 years in prison for what prosecutors had described as a conspiracy to manipulate elections for decades in the rural, heavily Republican county.
In additional to federal racketeering, several of the defendants were also convicted of charges that included mail fraud, extortion and laundering money used to buy votes.
The BRAD BLOG has been following this story since the conspirators were originally arrested in March of last year, and as details of the election officials' manipulation of ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines has emerged...
Meanwhile, back in Clay County, Kentucky, where election officials (including the county clerk, a district court judge, and the school superintendent) were arrested last year, and are now on trial, accused of having "fix[ed] elections for decades," a "precinct worker testified...that top election officers in the county taught her how to change people's choices on voting machines to steal votes in the May 2006 primary." The vote stealing was accomplished on ES&S touch-screen electronic voting machines, without the knowledge of legitimate voters, after they'd left the booth thinking they had cast their votes.
The scheme also included Republicans changing their party registration to Democratic in order to serve as Democratic poll judges and officers on Election Day, as has been alleged elsewhere (for example, in Ohio in 2004)...
The BRAD BLOG has long endeavored to fight back against the disinformation being put forward by the GOP "voter fraud" charlatans and fraudsters contending that massive fraud is being carried out by voters at the polls, requiring the institution of disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place which would result in some 21 million Americans being unable to cast their legal votes, according to the League of Women Voters and most other serious experts on these matters.
Once again, a story out of Kentucky helps us highlight that it's election insiders, not voters themselves, who are, by far, the greatest threat to the integrity of elections.
We reported early last year on the passel of election officials in Clay County, KY, arrested for buying and selling votes, manipulating ES&S electronic voting machines without the knowledge of voters, and otherwise fixing elections from 2002 to 2006.
As their January 19 trial date nears, more motions are being filed by federal prosecutors. The latest, filed last week, alleges that two of the top officials charged --- one, a circuit court judge and the other, the county school Superintendent --- had been fixing elections for decades before their recent indictments...
First, my thanks to Michelle Malkin, and all her of sycophantic re-linkers in the wingnut echosphere for all the swell traffic yesterday while I was on the road all day.
Second, how desperate the poor, sad, angry woman must be to try to find some story, somehow, somewhere, by someone, that she thinks she's gotten right and others must have gotten wrong, after having gotten so many storiescompletely and embarrassingly wrong over and over again over so many years.
Her latest: Apparently she believes that Andrew Sullivan and/or The BRAD BLOG (both of us, great mavens of "the Left," dontcha know?) have something to "retract" concerning the story of U.S. Census worker Bill Sparkman whose death by hanging in Clay County, KY, last September --- which appeared to be a possible murder by rightwing fomented "Fed"-haters --- is now believed by officials to have been a staged suicide meant to appear as such a murder...
We spent a fair amount of time earlier this year reporting on the election fraud conspiracy scandal in Clay County, KY, where seven election officials were indicted on charges of conspiracy for rigging elections, changing votes on voting machines without voters' knowledge, and more during elections from 2002 through 2006. The officials included the district court judge, the county clerk, the school superintendent, and other election officials and judges.
As you've likely read by now, Bill Sparkman, a part-time census worker, substitute teacher, and local Boy Scout director was found hanged on 9/12 in Clay County's Daniel Boone National Forest (though the story wasn't made public until last night) with the word "fed" written across his chest.
According to AP, "The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation," and the incident has drawn many to believe it may be related to recent distrust of the Census Bureau by elements of the Teabaggers, as sparked by comments made earlier this year by folks like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Glenn Beck, and many of the other personalities who advanced paranoia about the possibility of 2010 Census workers being hired from places such as favorite wingnut whipping-boy ACORN, via outlets like Fox "News."
Despite fomenting by comments like Bachmann's "enough is enough" (as seen in the video at right), Sparkman's death having come on September 12 (the day which Beck had called for his "9/12 Movement" Teabagger protests in D.C.), and the letters scrawled on Sparkman's chest, there is not yet definitive evidence that the hanging was tied to the Bachmann/Beck movement, though the blogosphere is understandably abuzz about it today.
As we spent quite a bit of time speaking to folks in Clay County last March while covering the election fraud scandal, we learned a bit about what's been going on there over the last several years. The hanging could be as much related to those events, and more that preceded them, as to Bachmann/Beck's ill-considered fear-mongering, even as that recent fear-mongering may well have served to inflame the local residents' already-inherent distrust of federal authorities...
Following on the heels of this week's guilty plea to voter registration fraud charges by Mark Anthony Jacoby, the man who headed the company which ran the GOP's voter registration efforts in 2008, and last month's guilty plea by Republican election official Paul Bishop for his part in a broad election fraud conspiracy in Clay County, KY (and, oh yeah, we'll have more on the latest voter fraud allegations against Ann Coulter in the next day or two), comes this new disturbing development tonight in that KY case...
[Now updated with a load of new details on the election conspiracy, how it worked, and who the candidates were that allegedly benefited from it, following today's guilty plea entered in court. See bottom of article for that new information.]
A Republican election official, one of six allegedly bi-partisan [ed note: see update below for more on that] Clay County, KY, Board of Elections officials arrested last March and charged with a long-term conspiracy to rig elections, buy votes, and manipulate vote-selections on electronic voting machines without the knowledge of voters, has asked to change his plea from not guilty to guilty, according to local news reports...
The attorney for Paul E. Bishop filed a motion Thursday seeking a hearing for him to plead guilty to one count of racketeering.
That charge alleges that members of the conspiracy used the county Board of Elections as a vehicle to corrupt voting between 2002 and 2007 so they could hold on to power and enrich themselves and others.
According to the indictment [PDF], Bishop was a Republican election judge at precincts in 2002 and 2004, and hosted meetings at his house where candidates pooled money to be used for buying votes. The latest report also notes that Bishop, and some of the other conspirators, even employed Rush Limbaugh's illicit drug of choice, OxyContin, as part of their scheme...
Since I first covered the story of the arrest of election officials (including a circuit court judge, the county clerk, the school superintendent and other members of the county elections board) in Clay County, KY, for buying and selling votes, as well as manipulating votes on electronic voting machines without the knowledge of voters, folks have been asking about the political affiliation of the conspirators and whether they were working on behalf of any particular political party.
The subject came up, as well, while I was on the Mike Malloy Show last Friday discussing these arrests, as they had just come to light.
You can download the MP3 of that interview, or listen to it online here (appx. 17 mins)...
While the federal indictment [PDF] notes that a number of those involved in the cabal appear to be members of the local Democratic Party, the scheme also involved at least one conspirator who served as the Republican Party's polling place judge at one of the precincts. Clay County is also a heavily Republican county.
On this point, a commenter who wrote in to respond to last week's article, who claims to be "from Clay County" and to know "each of the people arrested," writes that "ALL of the eight arrested this week" were actually Republican. "They registered as Democrat and took leadership roles in the local party to control precinct officer seats, ensuring all officers at the precinct were hand picked." I can't yet confirm that fact, but that reader's comment is posted in full below, with another one from a Kentucky writer, as both contain some helpful background.
Of course, it could still very well be the case that the crooks were Democrats at work. Either way, from what I'm able to understand about the scheme so far, it seems that it was more about personal power and financial enrichment than anything else. If they were Democrats, they don't seem to have been particularly successful in affecting Democratic wins in their county, even though their scheme was "successful" enough to be repeated election after election and year after year. At the heart of their scheme, after all, was bribing money out of candidates in order to be placed on a "slate" that the cabal would then help to get elected.
As the commenter suggests, it could well be that these "Democratic" officials were only signed up as such in order to affect primary elections (in order to ensure the weakest possible "D" candidate, for example) or even in hopes of adversely affecting general elections as "Democrats," secretly working on behalf of the Republican Party.
I've been unable to learn the party affiliations, yet, of the candidates who paid to be on their "slate," which, once we learn that, could be somewhat instructive. Maybe. But until then, a major point that I'd to make in any case: I don't really care what their party affiliations were.
"I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad." Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf (aka "Baghdad Bob"),
Iraqi Information Minister, April 2003
Michelle Shafer is the "Baghdad Bob"-in-chief of the e-voting industry. She's the VP and spokesperson for Sequoia Voting Systems and spokesperson for the e-voting industry as a whole via the Election Technology Council (ETC), a "trade group" created and sponsored by the nation's top four e-voting companies (ES&S, Sequoia, Diebold/Premier, and Hart Intercivic) to help spread their anti-science, anti-reality, pro-e-voting propaganda.
In the very last line of an article published on Thursday, on yet another e-voting related issue (which we may cover in more detail later), Michelle "Baghdad Bob" Shafer is quoted thusly:
Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer noted, however, that no electronic voting system has been compromised in an election.
As irony would have it, Thursday was also the very same day that news broke of the arrest of a cabal of election official insiders --- including a circuit court judge, the school superintendent, and a number of both Democratic and Republican polling place judges --- charged with having used the electronic voting system to compromise election after election, from 2002 to 2006 in Clay County, Kentucky.
Of course, very strong evidence exists that many other elections have been similarly manipulated on electronic voting systems by election insiders (see here, for just one example), including by both election officials and employees of the various private vendors whom Shafer represents. Much of that evidence, however, has been held at arm's length from citizen election integrity advocates under the absurd argument that that information is a proprietary, legally-protected trade secret. That specious argument has been made for years by the very government-funded corporate welfare queens, like Shafer's companies, that have been paid by our government to privatize our public elections.
So it's been difficult, at least until last week, to point disinformation experts like Shafer to the very evidence that reveal her statement, repeated time and again, to be a lie --- thanks in no small part to the "trade secret" claims of folks like Shafer. Get it? It's a helluva self-perpetuating scam...
[Now updated at bottom with details from the indictments.]
Those of us who have demanded transparent voting systems because we understand that only the ability for complete citizen oversight and transparency can effectively counter those who would game elections, have been disingenuously criticized over the years as somehow questioning the integrity of the hard-working, honest election officials out there.
The fact is, those who know anything about computer security understand that it is the insiders who are, by far, the greatest threat to security on such systems, as even the phony, GOP-operative-created Baker/Carter National Election Reform Commission determined in its final report: "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."
The best election officials in the country, however, will underscore that point, and agree that there is no reason any citizen should ever have to simply "trust" them.
Over the years, we've detailed the arrests and other unsavory behavior of many of the not-so-good election officials who, we were told, should simply have been trusted (our "favorite" has always been the case of Monterey CA's Tony Anchundo, who told us on air we should "trust" him, just a month or two before being arrested on 43 counts).
Well, now we've got a whole passel of still more crooked officials to add to the list. Moreover: The Kentucky officials arrested and indicted today, "including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers" of Clay County, have been charged with "chang[ing] votes at the voting machine" and showing others how to do it!
"More than 100 voting machines in Kenton County have been shut down on a judge's order" after they failed to properly register straight-party votes in Kentucky.
The failed machines are Hart InterCivic eSlate DREs (Direct Recording Electronic devices, usually touch-screen, though Hart's machines use a wheel and a button instead of a touch-screen). These are the same machines which Hart spokesman Peter Lichtenheld had previously argued could not lose or flip votes after they were similarly reported to have not been recording straight-ticket ballots correctly in Houston last week. Details from WLWT, a local KY NBC affiliate, follow...
Just prior to the AG's investigation, Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. (now re-named Premier Election Solutions), sent a letter to Jefferson County, KY, election officials to tell them that they had been using an uncertified voting system for the last three elections.
At the beginning of the investigation Stumbo had contacted the Secretary of State, Republican Trey Grayson, who is rumored, like Stumbo, to be a gubernatorial candidate. SoS Grayson assured him that only certified systems were being used in the state.
The impact of California SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" is beginning to be felt, tangibly, in other states across the country.
One such state is Kentucky, where this morning a press release was issued by the state's Attorney General Gregory D. Stumbo demanding that electronic voting machine manufacturers immediately correct security flaws identified in the independent reviews by experts in California.
In terse letters sent to voting machine companies Diebold and Hart Intercivic (letters posted in full below), Stumbo demanded that the companies "immediately implement in Kentucky all modifications and security upgrades necessary to correct the vulnerabilities identified by California."
Stumbo had this to say during in his news release this morning:
"Security upgrades are needed immediately to ensure voter confidence in the upcoming election," said Attorney General Stumbo. "Waiting and hoping for the best is not an option when the problems are obvious. Kentucky deserves the same prompt corrective action as California."
Meanwhile Kentucky's "do-nothing" Secretary of State, Trey Grayson publicly criticized Attorney General Stumbo's statements to which Stumbo retorted:
"I cannot share Mr. Grayson’s do-nothing attitude. Kentucky is a first class state that deserves the same voter security and protection as the California Secretary of State demanded and received."
The two one-page letters [PDF] from KY AG Stumbo to Hart InterCivic and Diebold demanding the same immediate corrective action as required by the state of California are posted in full below...