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Shocking Diebold Conflict Of Interest Revelations From Secretary Of State Further Taint Ohio's Electoral Credibility
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
April 6, 2006
Ohio is reeling with a mixture of outrage and hilarity as Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has revealed that he has owned stock in the Diebold voting machine company, to which Blackwell tried to award unbid contracts worth millions while allowing its operators to steal Ohio elections. A top Republican election official also says a Diebold operative told him he made a $50,000 donation to Blackwell's "political interests."
A veritable army of attorneys on all sides of Ohio's political spectrum will soon report whether Blackwell has violated the law. But in any event, the revelations could have a huge impact on the state whose dubiously counted electoral votes gave George W. Bush a second term. Diebold's GEMS election software was used in about half of Ohio counties in the 2004 election. Because of Blackwell's effort, 41 counties used Diebold machines in Ohio's highly dubious 2005 election, and now 47 counties will use Diebold touchscreen voting machines in the May 2006 primary, and in the fall election that will decide who will be the state's new governor.
Blackwell is the frontrunner for Ohio's Republican nomination for governor. The first African-American to hold statewide office, the former mayor of Cincinnati made millions in deals involving extreme right-wing "religious" radio stations.
As part of his campaign filings he has been required to divulge the contents of his various stock portfolios. Blackwell says that in the process he was "surprised" to learn he owned Diebold shares. According to central Ohio's biggest daily, the conservative Republican "Columbus Dispatch," Blackwell claims his multi-million-dollar portfolio has been handled "by a financial manager without his advice or review."