Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brunner's ties to ACORN run long and deep

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has been fighting the verification of voter registrations and denying that vote fraud exists in Ohio.

(For a complete story of the fiascos that have plagued Ohio under her months in office, you can search this blog - link on the left - for 'Brunner.')

Throughout the various court battles and the directives and the calls for investigations of Republicans, but not of ACORN, everyone wondered just why it was she was turning a blind eye to obvious problems.

Some speculated that it was because some of these groups were part of her advisers - but now the evidence is clear.

An investigation into ACORN's alleged fraudulent election activity revealed yesterday that one of the national directors, Karyn Gillette, may have collaborated with the Obama campaign to raise funds for the group's voter registration efforts.

So what does this have to do with Brunner? Gillette is identified on Jennifer Brunner's 2006 campaign website as a consultant. A blog entry by Brunner's husband Rick talks about that relationship, saying: "our candidate had gone earlier in the day to have some meetings and work out of Karyn Gillette's office." He also describes Gillette as "very helpful to the campaign."

According to campaign finance reports that were filed, Gillette was paid $21,250 by Brunner's campaign. She has a longtime history of serving as a fundraising consultant to Ohio Democrats.

An ACORN whistle blower testified in a Pennsylvania state court that "in November 2007 Project Vote development director Karyn Gillette told her she had direct contact with the Obama campaign and had obtained their donor lists." Project Vote is the voter registration arm of ACORN. (Wall Street Journal, 10/29/08)

But that's not all. Gillette is not Brunner's only tie to ACORN. Members of the group's voter registration arm, Project Vote, regularly advise Brunner on election strategy, previously serving on her Voter Rights Institute and even recently issuing a news release claiming credit for Brunner's directive banning challenges to suspected fraudulent voter registrations.

So our Secretary of State shares a campaign advisor with ACORN, takes direction from ACORN's voter registration arm, and refuses to verify over 200,000 mismatched registrations while claiming there is no voter fraud going on in Ohio...and that attention to such frivolous issues distracts her from doing her job.

And then there was more bad news for Brunner. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission announced on Wednesday that it intends to suspend SysTest Laboratories, the company hired by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to study Ohio's electronic voting system. (Read the USEAC release here.)

The commission said in a news release that the planned suspension is due to numerous non-conformities, including failure to create and validate test methods, improper documentation of testing and unqualified personnel.

Secretary Brunner spent $1.7 million to hire SysTest in September of 2007 for a comprehensive study of Ohio's electronic voting machines, which would later be called EVEREST. The Columbus Dispatch accused Brunner of "overreacting" to the report, arguing "the unfortunate consequence of the study is that conspiracy theorists will renew their claims that Ohio's elections are inherently untrustworthy. That's simply not the case." (Columbus Dispatch, "Don't rush to judgment," 12/16/2007)

Voters are already concerned about the validity of votes in Ohio. Maybe we should start worry about how to replace our Secretary of State.

6 comments:

skeeter1107 said...

I'm going to start believing in all the conspiracy theories with news like this.

Just one coincidence after another.

Tim Higgins said...

I'm with skeeter. I am planning on going in for my first fitting on a tinfoil hat tomorrow.

:-)

Alo Konsen said...

Outstanding work, Maggie! Between you and Joe the Plumber, Toledo's having an outsized impact on the 2008 election.

Kadim said...

"Maybe we should start worry about how to replace our Secretary of State."

You might have meant this differently, but I bet there's a good chance that we'll be seeing a constitutional amendment for a non-partisan (my preference) or a bi-partisan election's tribunal to replace the SOS's election's duties.

A world-class system would include

a.) Canadian style firewalling--elections officials would be prohibited from voting, volunteering for campaigns, contributing to campaigns, and could not have participated in politics several years before being an elections official and several years after.

b.) What would be really awesome would be if the the tribunal took over chapter 35 of the ORC so that they administered and wrote elections law as well. That way it wouldn't be in the hands of the legislature, who shouldn't write elections law since they have a conflict of interest.

Maggie Thurber said...

Skeeter and Tim - remember: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you. :)

Alo - kind words, and I thank you, but I'm very confident Sam "Joe the Plumber" will have a bigger impact than little ole me... And the even bigger impact are the candidates themselves. I'm just one of many stoking the fires.

Kadim - interesting idea. I've not looked into such things. I'll have to.

kateb said...

Shouldn't an elected official with this severe a conflict of interest excuse herself from the matter?

What's the ethical obligation for an attorney to turn away from a situation like this?

Google Analytics Alternative