On Felonies, Diebold, Paper Ballots, Secret Software, Lies, George W. Bush and More
COMPLETE AUDIO/TEXT TRANSCRIPT NOW POSTED...
By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2007, 1:24am PT  

I recently interviewed whistleblower Stephen Heller, while guest hosting Cynthia Black's Action Point on Air America/Nova M Pheonix.

It was Heller's first live broadcast interview and his wife Michelle Gregory also joined us for a bit. A documentary film crew was on hand to capture the event.

Heller is the Los Angeles actor who stole incriminating documents while working as a temp at Diebold's powerful law firm Jones Day and turned them over to Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org who, in turn, gave them to Ian Hoffman at the Oakland Tribune where many of them were published. The documents showed that Diebold had illegally installed uncertified hardware and software in California during the 2004 primary, which led to the decertification of their touch-screen DRE voting systems in the state.

Incredibly, Heller was many years later --- notably, long after the 2004 Election --- charged with three felony counts. He eventually pled guilty in a deal to one of the charges, as he discussed during our interview, to protect his family. As well, he was given the assurance that he'd serve no jail time and the charges would likely be removed entirely from his record after a year or so.

The complete audio and text transcript of the half hour interview is now posted here.

Here's just a few of the highlights from Heller's first live interview:

On why he took the documents in the first place...

Ultimately I took them because dishonorable people at Diebold were trying to turn our Democracy into a facade. They were trying to turn our elections into a mockery, into a lie. Lies must be challenged.

On the privatization of our public election system...

I think it's a horrible idea. I just can't understand why anyone would think that in the United States, it's a good idea to let a private corporation run our elections for us, in secret, using secret machines and secret software. That's insanity. We should never allow that. All votes must be on a paper ballot and there must be complete transparency in all machines used to process or tabulate those votes.

On not being able to talk while he was under indictment:

It was frustrating as I saw elections come and go and I had to keep my mouth shut and I knew what these election machine companies, Diebold and ES&S and Sequoia were doing, and at least I knew for a fact what Diebold had been doing and I was assuming the others were doing the same, or similar. It was very frustrating

On whether he believes himself to be a whistleblower:

I think I am a whistleblower. I also think I'm a thief. I stole attorney - client privileged documents. That's a serious crime. I pled guilty to the crime and I'm taking responsibility for it. But what is a crime is not necessarily wrong. And in fact, I believe that I exposed something that all Americans needed to know about. So I do think I'm a whistleblower.

On the legitimacy of Diebold elections and George W. Bush...

I think anywhere that Diebold's running an election, you have to be very suspicious of what they're doing and what their machines are doing. In terms of the President being illegitimate, or well, being the President on an illegitimate basis - I'm sure his parents were married - but in terms of him being the illegitimate President, yes, absolutely. I believe the man who is now serving his second term in the White House has yet to be elected.

All of that, plus what happened when police raided his home, why it took so long for charges to be brought, his wife Michelle's plan to write a book on the life of a wife of a whistleblower (check the full interview to learn the planned title :-) ) and much more.

We'll soon be publishing a guest blog from Heller here at The BRAD BLOG, on whistleblowing and why those thinking about doing it, should.

The complete 3/25/07 interview with Stephen Heller, both the audio and text transcript, is now posted here...