As Bob Fitrakis of the Columbus Free Press Pops Out Momentarily from his Book-Writing Foxhole...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2005, 10:21am PT  

The mighty Bob Fitrakis of the Columbus Free Press --- responsible for boatloads of tremendous investigative reporting on the ground from Ohio in Election 2004 and one of the participants in the Moss v. Bush lawsuit seeking to set aside the election results in the Buckeye State --- has been mostly quiet of late while working on an upcoming book on all of the above to be published soon.

Today, however, it looks like he's unleashed quite a bit of what he hasn't been able to report on over the last several weeks while hard at work writing the historical record. His new article on the "rise of the right wing juggernaut in Ohio" sheds fresh light on several key points on the insidious Election Night machinations, and even those to this day, of Ohio's Election Viceroy, Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (also the Co-Chair of Ohio's Committee to Re-Elect Bush/Cheney '04).

Amongst the several noteworthy new items Fitrakis catches up on today is some inside skinny on the now-infamous Warren County lockdown on Election Night when an apparently phony "Homeland Security Alert" led Board of Elections officials to issue an unprecedented scheme that shut out all press and witnesses from late-night vote counting in the county's election center.

Free Press has received an insider's account of what happened that night. Here's a sample:

With the media and independent election observers "walled off," as the Cincinnati Enquirer described, the employee claims that "some ballot boxes were taken to the holding area" where they were not monitored by election officials. The Warren County employee referred to the person supervising the unauthorized warehouse as a "Republican Party hack."

The employee is concerned that it would have been easy to "stuff" the ballot boxes or that "signatures could have been forged in the unauthorized holding area."

The anonymous employee told the Free Press that testimony would be provided if subpoenaed. A list of questions that remain unanswered in Warren County was also supplied: Which precinct ballot boxes were taken to the unauthorized holding area? Were officials from the Board of Elections present in the holding area? When were the ballots taken from the holding area to the check-in tent that was erected temporarily to count ballots? If Warren County was under a state of emergency, then why weren't any metal detectors engaged? The FBI has denied that there was any homeland security threat on Election Day.

As well, in a section of the article sub-headed as "Whitewash with a black face", Fitrakis connects a few more interesting dots on the phony GOP front-group busy conning America and hoping to derail true Electoral Reform. Fitrakis ties together the "non-partisan" hoaxsters of the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) --- the group we originally exposed several weeks ago exclusively here --- with some of the other folks who testified recently at Rep. Bob Ney's hastily convened U.S. House Administrative Hearings on Electoral problems in OH...

The current Bush-orchestrated cover up of Ohio's presidential election fiasco is fashioned much like a CIA covert operation. Initially, Bush partisans and media allies denounced as "conspiracy theorists" anyone who mentioned the irregularities, probable exit poll results and precinct data suggesting election fraud in Warren, Clarmont, and Butler counties.

The emergence of phony non-partisan voting rights organizations mark the second phase of re-writing Ohio's 2004 election history. On the afternoon of Friday, March 18, Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney, Chairman of the U.S. House Administrative Committee, issued a press release announcing a hastily called hearing investigating Ohio presidential election irregularities.

Little noticed at the time, except for Brad Friedman at bradblog, was the appearance of the self-proclaimed voting rights advocate Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II. Speaking on the last panel, Hearn claimed to represent the "non-partisan watchdog" group, the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). The name sounded similar to actual voting rights organizations like the National Voting Rights Institute. Appearing with Hearne were two Ohio State University Moritz College of Law professors, Ned Foley, a former Republican-appointed state Solicitor General, and Dan Tokaji.

On Monday, March 21, with no opportunity for citizen testimony or any well-known voting rights organizations to participate, the hearing proceeded at the Ohio Statehouse with Hearne playing the role of protector of democracy.

What Hearne failed to tell the Congressional committee was that his organization, the ACVR, was newly formed and that he was national election counsel to Bush-Cheney '04. Also, Hearn's nonprofit center's publicist, Jim Dyke, is a former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Hearne told the committee that ACVR was a "voting rights legal defense and education center committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the outcome of elections." He then immediately identified "massive registration fraud" as Ohio's key problem.

The former Reagan administration official proceeded to resurrect an old Gipper trick of putting a black face on Ohio's election disaster. Using an isolated incident, Thor thundered, ". . . while at the NAACP operative Georgiana Pitts' home, a 'nicely dressed' man with a briefcase came to the house to pick-up the voter forms. During the transaction Chad was asked to step into the other room while Pitts gave the nicely dressed man the voter registration forms. Ms. Pitts, who paid Chad the crack cocaine for the fraudulent voter registrations has since turned up dead from a drug overdose."

Machiavellian aficionados know that political perception creates reality. Just like the Gipper's infamous quote about a "welfare queen" spitting out babies while on the dole, Hearne's intent was to plant the image of the nation's oldest civil rights group bribing blacks with cocaine to destroy American democracy.

Hearne and Rove know that one racist image trumps 100,000 blacks waiting in the rain in three to seven-hour long lines in Ohio's urban cities. The Washington Post estimated between 15-20,000 people left the lines in Columbus alone, after waiting for hours. The conservative Columbus Dispatch editorial board immediately dismissed Hearn's claim as not the real problem.

Foley, Tokaji and Hearne were all recently named academic advisors to the Commission on Federal Election Reform, now known as the Carter-Baker Commission.

How Hearne, who does not list a single academic appointment on his posted resume, and his last degree was a J.D. in 1986, qualifies as an academic, remains a mystery, as does the source of the Moritz College Election Law Project funding. On the Moritz website, there is Hearne's testimony alongside that of Professors Foley and Tokaji.

Although privately admitting that he has no expertise in exit polling, Tokaji has continued to comment on the irrelevancy of the exit poll discrepancy.

On Friday, April 15, Cliff Arnebeck, one of the Moss v. Bush attorneys who challenged Ohio's presidential results, was disinvited from an Ohio Citizen Action forum at the Moritz College of Law, sponsored by the Election Law Project.

Had Hearne been a real non-partisan voting rights advocate, he would have been familiar with the work of Mike Swinford, who works with Ohio's Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE-OH).

In Knox County, where Kenyon College students finished voting at 4 a.m. only after a court order forced the polling site to remain open, it was not blacks who were engaged in fraudulent voting in the overwhelmingly white county. Swinford found that at the nearby conservative evangelical Mount Vernon Nazarene College, five miles from Kenyon, 186 registered voters used the business address of 800 Martinsburg for their voter registration.

Swinford issued a report noting that: "In Nov 2004, 46 of the 186, voted [having] . . . no second/mailing address. . . . Using the business address instead of a resident address violates fed and state law." The names of all 46 voters documented in the Knox County Board of Elections records were forwarded to the Free Press.

Blackwell, like Hearne, told Rep. Ney's committee that his key objective was to prevent "fraud." Yet, as the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election, the Ohio Secretary of State has displayed little interest in fraud at right-wing Republican Christian campuses.

Fitrakis' excellent, detailed investigative reporting is always worth a full read for loads of good stuff. The kind of stuff that the mainstream corporate media ought to be doing. But isn't. Of course. Give it a read.

(NOTE: We hope to have him as a guest on The BRAD SHOW in the coming weeks to talk about all of the above and much more! We'll let you know, of course, when that appearance is set!)

For more information on the "non-partisan" tax-exempt ACVR scam and the snakeoil salesmen who invented it, Bush/Cheney '04 National General Counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, please see BRAD BLOG's full Special Coverage of the "American Center for Voting Rights" at http://www.BradBlog.com/ACVR.