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Sunday, August 31, 2003

REPUBLICAN VOTING MACHINE COMPANY HEAD WANTS TO HELP BUSH WIN IN 2004

Well, now, this is just the kind of thing that drives a guy crazy. There are all these things that are illegal going on all over the place every day, right in front of our faces, yet, we let them go. We don't get upset. It makes no sense. Whether it's the 2000 election that was not a proper election in any sense of the phrase, or the preemptive Iraq Attack that put the US in violation of the UN Charter - an act that makes the United States a criminal. Here's something else to add to the "crime in plain sight" category.

Walden O'Dell, the CEO of Diebold Inc., a company that is hoping to selling new electronic voting machines to the state of Ohio, has said in a fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Well, he'd certainly be in the position to do that, would he?

Now, you might argue that the guy has a right to his political opinions. And that's understandable. However, judges, politicians and others in positions of power are expected to step down or resign if they are percieved to have what is a called a "conflict of interest". O'Dell is involved with raising money for the Republican party.

He should not be allowed to turn around and manufacture or even distribute voting machines of any kind electric or not. This is a clear conflict of interest.

But shouldn't we trust him to be an honest, level-headed guy, interested in American values of fairness in the next Presidential election?

HE'S ALREADY SAID THAT HE ISN'T INTERESTED IN THAT.

Here's his quote again: He said he is "he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

What more proof do you need that this guy is not interested in helping America vote for her next President?

Read Cleveland.Com's coverage of this story.





From Cleveland.Com:

Voting machine controversy

08/28/03
Julie Carr Smyth
Plain Dealer Bureau

Columbus - The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

O'Dell attended a strategy pow-wow with wealthy Bush benefactors - known as Rangers and Pioneers - at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch earlier this month. The next week, he penned invitations to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser to benefit the Ohio Republican Party's federal campaign fund - partially benefiting Bush - at his mansion in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington.

The letter went out the day before Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, also a Republican, was set to qualify Diebold as one of three firms eligible to sell upgraded electronic voting machines to Ohio counties in time for the 2004 election.

Blackwell's announcement is still in limbo because of a court challenge over the fairness of the selection process by a disqualified bidder, Sequoia Voting Systems.

In his invitation letter, O'Dell asked guests to consider donating or raising up to $10,000 each for the federal account that the state GOP will use to help Bush and other federal candidates - money that legislative Democratic leaders charged could come back to benefit Blackwell.

They urged Blackwell to remove Diebold from the field of voting-machine companies eligible to sell to Ohio counties.

This is the second such request in as many months. State Sen. Jeff Jacobson, a Dayton-area Republican, asked Blackwell in July to disqualify Diebold after security concerns arose over its equipment.

"Ordinary Ohioans may infer that Blackwell's office is looking past Diebold's security issues because its CEO is seeking $10,000 donations for Blackwell's party - donations that could be made with statewide elected officials right there in the same room," said Senate Democratic Leader Greg DiDonato.

Diebold spokeswoman Michelle Griggy said O'Dell - who was unavailable to comment personally - has held fund-raisers in his home for many causes, including the Columbus Zoo, Op era Columbus, Catholic Social Services and Ohio State University.

Ohio GOP spokesman Jason Mauk said the party approached O'Dell about hosting the event at his home, the historic Cotswold Manor, and not the other way around. Mauk said that under federal campaign finance rules, the party cannot use any money from its federal account for state- level candidates.

"To think that Diebold is somehow tainted because they have a couple folks on their board who support the president is just unfair," Mauk said.

Griggy said in an e-mail statement that Diebold could not comment on the political contributions of individual company employees.

Blackwell said Diebold is not the only company with political connections - noting that lobbyists for voting-machine makers read like a who's who of Columbus' powerful and politically connected.

"Let me put it to you this way: If there was one person uniquely involved in the political process, that might be troubling," he said. "But there's no one that hasn't used every legitimate avenue and bit of leverage that they could legally use to get their product looked at. Believe me, if there is a political lever to be pulled, all of them have pulled it."

Blackwell said he stands by the process used for selecting voting machine vendors as fair, thorough and impartial.

As of yesterday, however, that determination lay with Ohio Court of Claims Judge Fred Shoemaker.

He heard closing arguments yesterday over whether Sequoia was unfairly eliminated by Blackwell midway through the final phase of negotiations.

Shoemaker extended a temporary restraining order in the case for 14 days, but said he hopes to issue his opinion sooner than that.

© 2003 The Plain Dealer.

Copyright 2003 cleveland.com. All Rights Reserved.

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