“And finally, this just occurred to me tonight. Connell knew the Bush family very well. He knew members of Congress very well. He has been a staple of the GOP IT scene for ages. He even worked on the McCain camp. So what is wrong with this sorry lot of people, that not a single one of them issued a public condolence to this man? Not even the head of the RNC for crying out loud. He dies a few days before Christmas, leaving 4 kids and a widow behind and NOT ONE person could find the time to issue a public condolences to his family? My taking the entire right-wing power structure to the wood shed is for obvious reasons, not imagined reasons by people who are hell bent on imagining something. Simply put, I think it is heartless. That is why I brought it up. And frankly, it is incredibly heartless.”

“i also am appalled that the assholes in washington didnt have the decency to extend their condolences on his death.”


Republican IT Guru Dies In Plane Crash
Was Sought In Controversies Over E-Voting And Missing White House E-Mails; His Death Sparks More Controversy  /  Dec. 23, 2008

(CBS/AP) Federal investigators are looking into a small plane crash in Ohio which claimed the life of its pilot, a Republican media consultant who was instrumental in the presidential and gubernatorial campaigns of three members of the Bush Family. Michael Connell,45, of Akron died Friday when his plane crashed near a vacant house in Uniontown while attempting to land at nearby Akron-Canton Airport. But the fatal accident is also raising questions about Connell and his work for key political figures and lobbyists, which has targeted him in investigations over missing White House e-mails and a lawsuit alleging electronic voting fraud.

Following Last Friday’s fatal accident, CBS Affiliate WOIO reported that Connell, who had recently been subpoenaed to testify in relation to a lawsuit alleging vote rigging in the 2004 Ohio election, was warned at least twice about flying his plane because his plane might be sabotaged. Quoting an anonymous close friend of Connell’s, WOIO correspondent Blake Chenault also reported that twice in the past two months Connell, who was an experienced pilot, canceled flights because of suspicious problems with his plane. The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating the crash.

Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Tony Bradshaw said that Connell’s plane hit a flagpole two miles from the runway and crashed on the front lawn of a vacant Ohio house. The crash sparked a fire that damaged the house’s garage, but no one was inside the Uniontown home. There were no passengers on the plane, and no one on the ground was injured. Neighbors told The Canton Repository that they heard what sounded like an engine sputtering before the crash and that the noise sounded like it was coming from a plane.

A Republican Loyalist
Beginning as a political campaign worker and congressional staffer, Connell became a key Republican media consultant who developed Internet strategies for the 2000 and 2004 Bush-Cheney campaigns. He was founder and CEO of Cleveland-based New Media Communications, which built Web sites for President Bush and former presidential nominee John McCain, according to the company’s Web site. He was also chief IT consultant for Karl Rove. Connell’s ties to the Bush family extend back to working on campaigns for George H.W. Bush and former Fla. Governor Jeb Bush, for whom he
built the campaign site jeb.org. In 1999 he told the Cleveland magazine Inside Business, “I’m loyal to my network, I’m loyal to my friends, and I’m loyal to the Bush family.” He was also quoted as saying, when asked to predict the Internet’s role in the upcoming presidential race, “There are things we will be doing on Election Day that haven’t even been dreamt of yet.”

The rise of the Republican Party in Washington in the ’90s, and especially after the 2000 election, meant that Connell’s network of connections was expanding as well. Having worked with Ohio Congressman Bob Ney and Governor Bob Taft, Connell’s IT skills were sought after for the campaigns and Congressional sites for dozens of GOP candidates and officeholders. The New Media Communications Web site (now turned off, with a memorial to Connell in its place) boasted, “New Mediaís client list reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Republican politics.”

In 2000, Connell cofounded with his wife Heather GovTech Solutions to pursue government contracts. GovTech’s clients for databases, content management systems and other services included the White House, the Energy Department, several Republican-led Congressional committees and a few dozen congressional members’ Web sites. The Center for Public Integrity reported that in 2002 and 2004, the General Services Administration allowed federal agencies to purchase services directly from GovTech without a full bidding process.

In 2004 Connell helped form an online advertising firm called Connell Donatelli, which administered the Web site for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a 527 developed to attack Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Connellís central role in building the IT infrastructure of the White House and his association with Karl Rove has brought him into the controversy surrounding missing White House e-mails relating to the firing of U.S. Attorneys and other topics, and the fate of e-mail communications sent by Rove and other administration staffers which were sent via a Republican Party Web site, gwb43.com, rather than through a whitehouse.gov address. Connell built the gwb43.com site, which shares mail servers with GovTech.

Connell’s Internet expertise also led him to be subpoenaed earlier this year to testify in an Ohio federal court regarding alleged voter fraud in the 2004 election. Despite exit polls showing a lead by Democratic nominee John Kerry of more than 4 percent, Mr. Bush won the state’s vote by 2.5 percent, along with its crucial electoral votes. Much has been written about problems at the polls in Ohio that year, where voters in many (predominantly Democratic) precincts were forced to wait hours because of a shortage of working voting machines. A lawsuit being pursued by attorney Clifford Arneback seeks to answer questions about this and other ballot problems. [For example, in Franklin County Mr. Bush received 4,258 votes in a precinct where only 638 voters cast ballots.]

Questions have also been raised about how votes from Ohio counties were tabulated. Computer expert Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican who works in detecting fraud in network architecture and protecting computer infrastructures, has testified that the Ohio election returns he saw were indicative of a “KingPin Attack,” in which a computer is inserted into the communications flow of an IT system, with the intent to change data as it passes to its destination.

It was later learned that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s office had routed Internet traffic from county election offices through out-of-state servers based at SMARTech in Chattanooga, Tenn. SMARTech hosts dozens of GOP Web domains. Last month, U.S. Judge Soloman Oliver refused Connell’s request to quash a subpoena connected to the lawsuit, King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell, and demanded his testimony relating to his IT work. In his deposition given in November, Connell denied any knowledge of vote rigging.

Since his death Friday, the Internet has buzzed with news about an IT entrepreneur, until now in the background of Republican politics, whose sudden death has sparked conspiracy theories and thrust him into the center of continuing controversies involving White House communications and electronic voting. Meanwhile, a man the Akron Beacon-Journal recounts as a devout Catholic who organized annual missions to aid communities in El Salvador with as much passion as he devoted to the businesses he built, leaves behind his wife of 18 years and four children.

Bush Insider Who Planned To Tell All Killed In Plane Crash: Non-Profit Demands Full Federal Investigation  /  Dec. 20, 2008

Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush’s 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution (“VR”), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell’s activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would “throw [him] under the bus.”

A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell’s life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR’s attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General , Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell’s not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.

On October 31, Mr. Connell appeared before a federal judge in Ohio after being subpoenaed in a federal lawsuit investigating the rigging of the 2004 election under the direction of Karl Rove. The judge ordered Mr. Connell to testify under oath at a deposition on November 3rd, the day before the presidential election. Velvet Revolution received confidential information that the White House was extremely concerned about Mr. Connell talking about his illegal work for the White House and two Bush/Cheney 04 attorneys were dispatched to represent him An associate of Mr. Connell’s told VR that Mr. Connell was involved with the destruction of the White House emails and the setting up of the off-grid White House email system.

Mr. Connell handled all of John McCain’s computer work in the recent presidential campaign. VR has received direct evidence that the McCain campaign kept abreast of the legal developments against Mr. Connell by reading the VR dedicated website, www.rovecybergate.com.

VR demands that the Ohio Attorney General and the United States Justice Department conduct a complete investigation into the activities of Mr. Connell and determine whether there was any foul play in his death. VR demands that federal law enforcement officials place the following people under protective custody pending this investigation. Heather Connell who is the owner of GovTech Solutions, Randy Cole, the former President of GovTech Solutions, and Jeff Averbeck, the CEO of SmartTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Both GovTech and SmartTech have been implicated in the rigging of the 2000 and 2004 elections and the White House email scandal. Our prior request to have Mr. Connell protected went unheeded and now he is dead.


Pilot killed as plane crashes in Lake Twp.
by Jewell Cardwell, John Higgins & David Knox  /  Dec 19, 2008

A single-prop, private airplane crashed next to a vacant house on Charolais Street Northwest Friday evening, exploding into flames and killing the pilot. Michael Connell, 45, of Bath Township, was alone in the plane, according to State Highway Patrol Lt. Eric Sheppard. Connell was a prominent Republican political consultant. He founded New Media Communications in Richfield, which developed campaign Web sites for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and President George W. Bush.

The plane was attempting to land around 6 p.m. Friday at Akron-Canton Airport when it crashed about three miles short of the runway. Taylor Fano, who lives two doors away from the crash site on Charolais, said she heard the crash. ”It blew up and shook the ground a little bit,” Fano said. ”I was standing in the kitchen and I looked out the window and all I saw was fire.” Fano said the plane came down in the front yard at 2017 Charolais, then skidded along the side of the house.

The plane came down between two houses, separated by about 100 feet, in the upscale neighborhood. Neighbors said one of the homes was unoccupied, while the other was lighted with holiday decorations. They said wreckage from the plane could be seen sticking up from the ground. ”It took out the flagpole and the cement blocks surrounding
the flagpole like a little planter,” Fano said. ”It skidded across the driveway and right in between a line of pine trees and a small fence around an in-ground pool.”

Neighbor Julie Hufstetler, who lives across the street from the crash site, said she was getting ready for a party at their home when she heard the explosion. ”It was kind of a swish and a boom,” she said. When she looked outside, she saw flames billowing from the garage. Greentown Fire Department Capt. Lorin Geiser said he arrived within three minutes of getting several 911 calls about a plane down.

Geiser said the crumbled fuselage from the plane was fully engulfed. It took less than five minutes to extinguish the flames. The burning debris apparently set fire to the side of the garage of the unoccupied home. There was no interior damage to the house. Several neighbors, bundled up against the frigid temperature, were walking around taking pictures with their cell-phone cameras.

The plane was on final approach to Akron-Canton Airport’s Runway 23 when it went down, said Kristie Van Auken, spokeswoman for the airport. Van Auken identified the plane as a Piper Saratoga, a single-engine propeller craft capable of carrying up to seven passengers. The plane, which was made in 1997, is owned by a Richfield corporation,
Sierra-November Aviation, at 3046 Brecksville Road, according to the Federal Aviation Administration registry.

FlightAware, a Web site that tracks flight plans, reported that the plane was coming from College Park, Md., departing at 3:31 p.m. and scheduled to arrive at Akron-Canton at 5:43 p.m. The plane had flown from Akron to College Park Thursday morning. Van Auken didn’t think the plane was based at the Akron-Canton Airport, but added, ”We can’t verify that at this time.”

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected at the crash site Friday night. An FAA spokeswoman said investigations typically take weeks and even months or longer to complete. In addition to the Greentown Fire Department, others
responding included firefighters from Hartville, Uniontown, Plain Township and North Canton. Van Auken said several members of the airport operations staff were also at the crash scene.

Federal agencies examining deadly Lake Township plane crash
by Edd Pritchard  /  Dec 24, 2008

A preliminary report on Friday nightís plane crash that killed a Summit County man should be posted in early January, but it likely will be several months before the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation. Michael L. Connell, 45, of Bath Township, died in the crash at about 6 p.m. outside a vacant house at 2017 Charolais St. NW, Lake Township. No passengers were on the Piper Saratoga. A Web site designer and behind-the-scenes player in the Republican Party, Connell was returning to Northeast Ohio after a business trip in Washington.

Connell was attempting a landing on Runway 23 at the Akron-Canton Airport, but his plane crashed about three miles short of his destination. Troopers with the Highway Patrolís Canton post said the plane made a forced landing, hit a flagpole and rolled several times. Investigators with NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are handling the investigation, which is routine after a plane crash.

NTSB investigator Mitch Gallo examined wreckage and talked with witnesses on Tuesday, agency spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said on Wednesday. The agency still needs information from the air traffic controller, weather details and a radar study, she said. So far the investigation shows that the plane had no issues with flight control and there was no icing, Serchak said. The planeís propeller had damage that indicates the engine was operating when the crash occurred.

A preliminary report should be filed within 10 working days, Serchak said. NTSB has one year to complete itís factual report and the NTSB board will vote on a probable cause ruling for the accident shortly after the report is filed. Data collected by the Highway Patrol was being completed Wednesday for the NTSB, a spokesman for the Canton post said. While the Highway Patrol collects information about airplane crashes, it doesnít determine cause of the crashes, the spokesman said.

The Stark County Coronerís office has given samples collected in an autopsy of Connell to FAA laboratories, a spokeswoman for Dr. P.S. Murthy said. The agency supplies a kit listing samples to be collected, the spokeswoman said. Indications are Connell died from massive traumatic injuries. Although the wreckage burned following the crash, Connellís body wasnít burned, the spokeswoman said.

There are no indications that Connell suffered from any medical problems, the spokeswoman said. Connell was chief executive officer of New Media Communications, described on its Web site ó www.technomania.com ó as ìa powerhouse in the field of Republican Web site development and Internet services.î The site boasts that Connell provided technical expertise to John McCainís presidential campaign this year, and Internet strategies to the Bush-Cheney campaigns of 2000 and 2004.


Connell update – preliminary inter-agency report and more questions…
by Larisa Alexandrovna  /  December 25, 2008

In short:
-Not medical
-Not weather
-Not running out of gas (which the investigation had first suspected, but has now ruled out – it is not mentioned below, however)

Now can someone who is is a pilot explain a few things to me here. I am trying to understand the verbiage and elements of your profession:
1. If there were no “issues with flight control” do they mean avionics?
2. So given that everything else was ruled out, the only thing left is mechanical, am I right? Am I wrong and missing an important genre?
3. Is there anything else that is not covered under mechanical, avionics, health, and weather (he was not a drug user from what I have been told, so for now at least, let’s leave it off the table of considerations) that would explain that his plane went down three
miles from landing (I know he was on instruments now, rather than line of sight), with a working engine?
4. Is the propeller mentioned only as indicative of the engine working or is it being broken something to consider as an actual cause for the accident?

And some questions in general:
1. Does “indications are Connell died from massive traumatic injuries. Although the wreckage burned following the crash, Connell’s body wasnít burned” mean he was was thrown from the plane as soon as the plane went down?

2. And finally, this just occurred to me tonight. Connell knew the Bush family very well. He knew members of Congress very well. He has been a staple of the GOP IT scene for ages. He even worked on the McCain camp. So what is wrong with this sorry lot of people, that not a single one of them issued a public condolence to this man? Not even the head of the RNC for crying out loud. Connell has worked with the RNC for years. He has worked with the Chamber of Commerce for years. He was friends with and knew very important people. He dies a few days before Christmas, leaving 4 kids and a widow behind and NOT ONE person could find the time to issue a public condolences to his family?

The President has time to pardon turkeys and pardon criminals, but not to issue even a single sentence of condolence to a man he has known for years? Rove? Where is he at? John McCain? Anyone? I don’t understand how no one thought to issue a statement of support for the family, especially since a father of four won’t be there for Christmas?

As always, it seems that I have to keep clarifying things.  My taking the entire right-wing power structure to the wood shed is for obvious reasons, not imagined reasons by people who are hell bent on imagining something. Simply put, I think it is heartless. That is why I brought it up. And frankly, it is incredibly heartless. What, they are too damn busy with their presents?

Posted by: mj  /  December 25, 2008
“thank you for your reporting on my brother’s death. i can tell you that the wind is in suspect according to what ive been told & that most of his family & friends believe it was an accident. i also am appalled that the assholes in washington didnt have the decency to
extend their condolences on his death. he did so much for them; where were they for him? i hope that the circumstances of his death do come to light. he was an incredible person with a good heart. there is no way to measure how much i will miss him.”

One of my sources died in a plane crash last night…
by Larisa Alexandrovna  /  December 20, 2008

“I don’t usually reveal sources, but I think this is incredibly important. Michael Connell died in a plane crash last night. He was a key witness in the Ohio election fraud case that I have been reporting on. More importantly, however, he had information that he was ready to

You see, Mike Connell set-up the alternate email and communications system for the White House. He was responsible for creating the system that hosted the infamous GWB43.com accounts that Karl Rove and others used. When asked by Congress to provide these emails, the White House said that they were destroyed. But in reality, what Connell is alleged to have done is move these files to other servers after having allegedly scrubbed the files from all “known” Karl Rove accounts.

In addition, I have reason to believe that the alternate accounts were used to communicate with US Attorneys involved in political prosecutions, like that of Don Siegelman. This is what I have been working on to prove for over a year. In fact, it was through following
the Siegelman-Rove trail that I found evidence leading to Connell. That is how I became aware of him. Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened.

He has flown his private plane for years without incident. I know he was going to DC last night, but I don’t know why. He apparently ran out of gas, something I find hard to believe. (See Update 3 below). I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being
simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully. If you want to understand the context more broadly, I suggest you read this article I did a while back about the break-ins and arson cases that Siegelman and others have experienced.

Just to be very clear and state again, I am not claiming conspiracy theory or direct relation to Karl Rove or the White House in any of these events. What I am saying, however, is that these possible relationships cannot and should not be overlooked by investigators. There are far too many serious and reasonable questions that must be answered for the public.

I have been to Mr. Connell’s home. Mr. Connell has confided that he was being threatened, something that his attorneys also told the judge in the Ohio election fraud case. When I met with Heather, his wife, I did so carefully because of the threats he was getting.

I left a note for her in her mailbox and asked her to meet me in a local park near their home. Heather came and through our conversation I got the sense that these were not bad people or corrupt people. The Connell’s really believed that what they were involved in served God’s plan. Regardless of of what any of us think about their religious views or allegations relating to Connell’s involvement in various things, I do think these were good people who got caught up in something bigger than themselves. My heart goes out to Heather and the children.

Update One
Okay children – because that is what I am going to call adults who willfully mis-read information. I will say this AGAIN (as I have twice in the above entry and also used bold case so that no one would miss the caveat), I am NOT – I repeat NOT – saying this was a). a murder, b). that it was in any way connected to the White House or to Karl Rove, and c). that I am convinced of any of the above three.

On the contrary, I have said – and I am noting again – that I don’t know what happened. I am NOT an aviation expert. What I am saying – AGAIN – is that the context is important and must be considered. Investigators must conduct their work transparently on this case as to address the many serious and reasonable (not remotely CT-based questions) relating to this crash and the person who died. The public has a right to know and investigators must address these questions by conducting a very open investigation of the crash.

The facts are not all in yet and so I have no answers for you – as I have already noted. But I felt it important to share the context, obligated even to share it. Now if you folks (you know who you are) want to read this as me rolling myself in tin-foil, then that is your choice. Obviously that is not my hope, but I cannot help the lunacy that people want to engage in.

Update Two
Here are the reading materials in case you have not followed any of this closely. These are articles I have done over spanning over a year of investigative work:
Part 1 – Political Prisoner
Part 2 – Siegelman’s Daughter Speaks Out
Part 3 – Karl Rove Running Elections from the White House
Part 4 – Mississippi Prosecution, Justice Oliver Diaz
Part 5 – Justice Diaz Speaks
Part 6 – Break-ins plague targets of political prosecutions
Part 7 – Justice for Sale
Related articles:
Judge who denied Paul Minor release was protege of Karl Rove
DOJ Investigating 2 US Attorneys
60 Minutes Segemant on Siegelman “dropped” in Alabama
Republican IT Consultant Subpoenaed in Ohio election fraud case
Abramoff said he had agreement with White House aide just a month after Bush took office
Treasury Department investigating US Attorney for leaking state Supreme Court Justice’s tax returns

Update Three
Okay, so I have some additional information from an airport source. Here is what I have learned:
1. Connell may not have run out of gas, but may have hit an ice patch. The initial call I got described him running out of gas. That is no longer what is said to have happened.
2. The problem with that is – as I just learned – his plane was “equipped to deal with ice on all key surfaces,” like wings for example.  Remember, I am not an expert on aviation or even mildly informed on different types of planes. So I will add to this when I get more information relating to the actual plane and its abilities, specs, etc.
3. He took off from a small airport called College Park.
4. He was aware of the ice conditions, and remained grounded at that airport for two hours until he felt comfortable to fly (again, from an airport source).


‘Karl Rove’s IT guru’ Mike Connell dies in plane crash  /  December
20, 2008

A top level Republican IT consultant who was set to testify in a case alleging GOP election tampering in Ohio died in a plane crash late Friday night. Michael Connell — founder of Ohio-based New Media Communications, which created campaign Web sites for George W. Bush and John McCain — died instantly after his single-prop, private aircraft smashed into a vacant home in suburban Lake Township, Ohio. “The plane was attempting to land around 6 p.m. Friday at Akron-Canton Airport when it crashed about three miles short of the runway,” reports the Akron Beacon Journal. Connell’s exploits as a top GOP IT ‘guru’ have been well documented by Raw Story’s investigative team.

The interest in Mike Connell stems from his association with a firm called GovTech, which he had spun off from his own New Media Communications under his wife Heather Connellís name. GovTech was hired by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to set up an official election website at election.sos.state.oh.us to presented the 2004 presidential returns as they came in.

Connell is a long-time GOP operative, whose New Media Communications provided web services for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Republican National Committee and many Republican candidates. This in itself might have raised questions about his involvement in creating Ohio’s official state election website.

However, the alternative media group ePlubibus Media further discovered in November 2006 that election.sos.state.oh.us was hosted on the servers of a company in Chattanooga, TN called SmarTech, which also provided hosting for a long list of Republican Internet domains. ìSince early this decade, top Internet ëgurusí in Ohio have been coordinating web services with their GOP counterparts in Chattanooga, wiring up a major hub that in 2004, first served as a conduit for Ohio’s live election night results,î researchers at ePluribus Media wrote.

A few months after this revelation, when a scandal erupted surrounding the firing of US Attorneys for reasons of White House policy, other researchers found that the gwb43 domain used by members of the White House staff to evade freedom of information laws by sending emails outside of official White House channels was hosted on those same
SmarTech servers. Given that the Bush White House used SmarTech servers to send and receive email, the use of one of those servers in tabulating Ohioís election returns has raised eyebrows. Ohio gave Bush the decisive margin in the Electoral College to secure his reelection in 2004.

IT expert Stephen Spoonamore says the SmartTech server could have functioned as a routing point for malicious activity and remains a weakness in electronic voting tabulation. “…I have reason to believe that the alternate accounts were used to communicate with US Attorneys involved in political prosecutions, like that of Don Siegelman,” said Raw Story’s Investigative News Editor, Larisa Alexandrovna, on her personal blog Saturday morning. “This is what I have been working on to prove for over a year. In fact, it was through following the Siegelman-Rove trail that I found evidence leading to Connell. That is how I became aware of him. Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened.

“He has flown his private plane for years without incident. I know he was going to DC last night, but I don’t know why. He apparently ran out of gas, something I find hard to believe. I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully.”

“Mr. Connell has confided that he was being threatened, something that his attorneys also told the judge in the Ohio election fraud case,” concluded Alexandrovna. An FAA investigation into the causes of Connell’s plane crash is underway, but no results are expected for several weeks.


Employees had awaited Connell at company Christmas party
BY John Byrne  /  12/23/2008

Curtis Randy Cole, a close friend and former colleague of the GOP
political consultant who died when his plane crashed in a suburb here
last Friday, dismissed suspicions of foul play in an interview with
Raw Story Sunday evening. In an interview at his Amesbury Street home
where he based his recent failed run for Ohio Stateís 41st District
House seat last year, Cole, the former President of Michael Connellís
government contracting company GovTech Solutions, revealed how the
bad news arrived to Connellís friends and family members late Friday
night. ìI got a call from a GovTech employee late Friday that that his
plane had crashed,î Cole said, ìI thought ëbad weatherí or ëicing of
the wings.íî

Connellís employees and partners at GovTech and New Media
Communications, were gathered for their annual Christmas party at
offices the Connell companies have shared in nearby Richfield since
August, Cole said. Connell is pictured above right. ìThey were waiting
for Mike. They were getting email alerts tracking his progress,î Cole
explained. Friends and colleagues were expecting Connellís imminent
arrival on a trip from College Park, Maryland because the last alert
they received reported his clearance into Akron-Canton airspace. They
expected he would be landing imminently and making the half hour drive
to New Media offices. “When it got late, someone checked the news and
learned his plane had crashed.î

Cole said that during his tenure as President of Govtech from 2005
until August of this year, he often flew with his boss on business
trips on the same route he took the night his plane crashed. ìI
probably flew with Mike roundtrip to Washington on his a plane once a
month. Weíd arrive and each go off to separate meetings with clients
and generally return the next day.î Cole hasn’t taken a job since his
House run in order to take care of his wife, Teresa, who is receiving
intensive treatment for cancer she was diagnosed with in October.

FAA records show Connell was an experienced ìinstrument-ratedî pilot
who had logged thousands of miles each year. Cole described Connell as
an adept pilot who would manage the stability of the aircraft by
drawing fuel from any one of four separate tanks and who would
calculate on the fly whether the plane had the range to fly around a
converging storm cell picked up on the planeís sophisticated radar
system. Authorities investigating the crash, led by the National
Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), have offered no explanation or
details about the crash. Repeated calls to the regional office of the
NTSB were not answered or returned.

In the days since the crash, a news vacuum has been created by the
silence of authorities. Some familiar with his role as a witness in
the Lincoln-Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell case
contesting Bush’s win of Ohio’s electoral votes in 2004 and his RNC
work, have cited reported threats made since July against Connell and
raised the specter of foul play. Connell had recently testified in a
suit alleging tampering with Ohio’s 2004 results, which he adamantly
denied any knowledge of.

A reporter for a Cleveland television station said Sunday that Connell
had been warned his plane might be sabotaged. “Connell…was
apparently told by a close friend not to fly his plane because his
plane might be sabotaged,” 19 Action News reporter Blake Renault said.
“And twice in the last two months, Connell, who is an experienced
pilot, canceled two flights because of suspicious problems with his
plane.” Randy Cole isn’t buying it. When told of the alleged threats
Cole said that in all the hours he spent flying with his friend in the
close-quartered cockpit of the Piper Saratoga, he says Connell never
shared any worries or suggestions of threats or intimidation. For
Cole, something went wrong and for him the weather was the most likely

In the wake of an Akron Beacon Journal report regarding a
deterioration of weather conditions at the time of Connellís approach
to the Akron-Canton airport, Raw Story sought to secure the same
weather reporting streamed 24/7 to pilots, flight traffic controllers
and other in need of accurate forecasts and current conditions in real
time across the country. FAA official Liz Corey refused to disclose
hourly observations of ìQuality Controlled Local Climatological Dataî
taken from the recording station at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport
where Connellís single engine Piper Saratoga was estimated to arrive
at 5:46PM EST, citing jurisdictional issues. She referred questions to
the NTSB.

Raw Story was able to secure the weather data from the National
Climate Data Center (NCDC) in Ashville, North Caroline. For the crash
event time window between 5:35PM and approximately 6PM EST, visibility
was 9-10 miles in broken cloud cover and temperatures hovered just
above freezing, contradicting the 1 mile claim in the Akron Beacon
Journal. FAA spokesperson Laura Brown spoke to Raw Story from her cell
phone on her way to FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., saying that
an Incident Report was sitting on her desk. However, follow up calls
and emails were not returned as of close of business Monday. Over five
hundred gathered quietly at a memorial at Billow Fairlawn Chapel
Monday evening. They will have to be patient for answers. The FAAís
Liz Corey said that NTSB investigations can last several months to a

“In 2005, the Connells began organizing an annual mission trip to El
Salvador from the parish. It was known as the Serving Christ Through
His Poor, El Salvador Mission. The organization’s Web site details how
the group has built numerous houses and a youth center, and helped to
install water and sanitation systems in the village of Mizata. Heather
Connell is president of the mission and Mr. Connell was chairman of
the board. Joe McShannic, a vascular surgeon for Summa Health System,
said Mr. Connell started the mission single-handedly. ”It was all his
idea. He started it from the ground up. Every year it got bigger and
bigger and we were able to do more and more,” McShannic said.
McShannic said the Connell children routinely go on the mission trip
with their parents. ”He was a great guy, a natural born leader, a
very spiritual man, and obviously, a great family man,” he said. ”He
was the life and soul of this mission.” In addition, McShannic said
Mr. Connell just last year started a council of the Knights of
Columbus, a Catholic men’s service organization, at St. Hilary’s,
where he served as grand knight. In its first year, the council had
more than 100 members join, making it one of the largest in Ohio.
”Mike has touched so many people. He had plans to do so much more,”
McShannic said.

Political interests
Mr. Connell, an Illinois native and University of Iowa marketing
graduate, was a GOP go-to guy while still in his 20s. He understood
the power of the Internet in its infancy. He got his first taste of
political campaigns in 1986, working on the re-election bid of Iowa
Rep. Jim Leach. His work caught the eye of George H.W. Bush’s
campaign, which hired him. Once Bush became president, Mr. Connell
took a job with the Department of Energy, where his information
technology work proved prominent. Mr. Connell continued to work on GOP
efforts and eventually served as press secretary for Rep. Martin Hoke
of Lakewood. Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, said
Mr. Connell has been on the scene for a number of years. ”He did a
lot of work for the Republican Party, the McCain campaign, some of our
county organizations and the Republican National Committee,” Bennett

Conspiracy theories
It was Mr. Connell’s work in information technology for Republicans
that garnered him a national reputation and eventually involved him as
a witness in a federal lawsuit alleging election tampering. Mr.
Connell’s role as a witness has erupted a storm cloud of conspiracy
theories about his death on left-leaning Internet blog sites. Mr.
Connell was subpoenaed in the 2006 case against former Ohio Secretary
of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, alleging that voter fraud helped steal
Ohio votes and swing the 2004 election for President George W. Bush.
One of Mr. Connell’s companies ran computer servers for Ohio on
Election Night. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that by 9 p.m. on
Election Night 2004, the results were switched from the state server
to one set up by Connell’s, in the former Pioneer Bank Building in
Chattanooga, Tenn. It is alleged the same server was used to bundle
and remove White House e-mails regarding the 2005 federal prosecutor
firing scandal. Mr. Connell tried to fight the subpoena, but a judge
ruled against it and he gave a deposition on Nov. 3. It was through
the fight over the subpoena that attorneys who brought the case
learned that Mr. Connell and his wife had allegedly been threatened
with federal prosecution by Rove.

Bob Fitrakis, one of the Columbus attorneys who filed the lawsuit, a
former Green Party candidate for president and a political blogger
known for his conspiracy theories on election stealing in Ohio, said
word of Mr. Connell’s death ”sent a chill down my spine.” When the
threats came to light, Fitrakis said he and co-counsel Clifford
Arnebeck reported them both to the federal court and to the U.S.
attorney general. ”There is concern on my part and I hope it spills
over into an exhaustive investigation,” Fitrakis said. ”He was the
Bush family’s IT guru. He had tremendous knowledge and information.”
Fitrakis said in the deposition that Mr. Connell discussed the
apparatus he had put in place in Ohio in 2004 and other areas.
Fitrakis said those involved in the suit were hoping that Mr.
Connell’s deposition would lead them to Rove. Jason Mauk, executive
director of the Ohio Republican Party, discounted the conspiracy
theories. ”I don’t think Mike had nearly as much to do with that as
the tin-foil-hat community would believe,” he said.

IT man
But Mauk didn’t downplay Mr. Connell’s role as the country’s leading
IT man for Republican politics. ”Mike worked very hard every day to
get the Republican Party to keep pace with the rapidly developing
world of online communications,” Mauk said. ”Mike was a pioneer in
using technology to identify voters and mobilize volunteers. He was
using the Internet to develop new media tactics years before the Obama
campaign made it popular.” Through New Media Communications, Mr.
Connell developed Web sites for state, national and county Republican
parties and candidates as well as e-mail platforms for them, Mauk
said. ”We worked with Mike to overhaul our Web site and he made it
one of the most successful state party sites in all of the country. We
won an award for it,” he said.

Was Paul Wellstone Murdered?
BY Michael I. Niman  /  AlterNet  /  October 28, 2002
[“…rescued from Google’s cache after the original AlterNet piece
disappeared from the net.”]

“Various White House figures made numerous recent campaign stops
in Minnesota to stump for the ailing campaign of Wellstone’s
Republican opponent, Norm Coleman. Despite being outspent and
outgunned, however, polls show that Wellstone’s popularity surged
after he voted to oppose the Senate resolution authorizing George Bush
to wage war in Iraq. He was pulling ahead of Coleman and moving toward
a victory that would both be an embarrassment to the Bush
administration and to Democratic Quislings such as Hillary Clinton who
voted to support “the president.”

Then he died. Wellstone now joins the ranks of other American
politicians who died in small plane crashes. Another recent victim was
Missouri’s former Democratic governor, Mel Carnahan, who lost his life
in 2000, three weeks before Election Day, during his Senatorial race
against John Ashcroft. Carnahan went on to become the first dead man
to win a Senatorial race, humiliating and defeating the unpopular
Ashcroft posthumously. Ashcroft, despite his unpopularity, went on to
be appointed Attorney General by George W. Bush. Investigators
determined that Carnahan’s plane went down due to “poor visibility.”
One former senator, John Tower, also died in a small plane crash.
Tower was best known as the chair of the Tower Commission, which
investigated the Reagan/Bush era Iran/Contra scandal.

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I’m certainly not a
conspiracy theorist. But to be honest, I know I wasn’t alone in my
initial reaction at this week’s horrible and tragic news: that being
my surprise that Wellstone had lived this long. Perhaps it’s just my
anger and frustration at losing one of the few reputable politicians
in Washington, but I also felt shame. Shame for not writing in my
column, months ago, that I felt that Paul Wellstone’s life, more so
than any other politician in Washington, was in danger. I felt that
such speculation was unprofessional and would ultimately undermine my
credibility. In the end, my own self-interest triumphed, and I never
put my concerns into print. Neither did any other mainstream
journalist, though I know of many who shared my concern.

When I heard Wellstone’s plane went down, I immediately thought of
Panamanian General Omar Torrijos, who in 1981 thumbed his nose at the
Reagan/Bush administration and threatened to destroy the Panama Canal
in the event of a U.S. invasion. Torrijos died shortly thereafter when
the instruments in his plane failed to function upon takeoff.
Panamanians speculated that the U.S. was involved in the death of the
popular dictator, who was replaced by a U.S. intelligence operative,
Manuel Noreiga, who previously worked with George Bush Senior. There
is no indication today that Wellstone’s death was the result of foul
play. What we do know, however, is that Wellstone emerged as the most
visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda
by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone. For our
government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open
and accountable independent investigation involving international
participation into the death of Paul Wellstone. Hopefully we will find
out, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this was indeed an untimely
accident. For the sake of our country, we need to know this.

“It should be remembered that Wellstone also was the chairman of the
new securities reform committee. And it was Wellstone who was
attempting to block the nomination of the notorious William Webster,
former CIA and FBI head and the Best Friend of Big Business and the
Big Accounting Firms, to be the new chairman of the SEC/Accounting
“Oversight” Commission. If the Republicans wanted to take anybody out,
this was THE guy.” — Al Martin (Iran-Contra whistleblower)

The suspicious disturbing death of election rigger Michael Connell
BY Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman  /  December 20, 2008

Michael Connell, the crucial techno- lynch pin in the theft of the 2004 election, and much more, is dead at the age of 45. His unnatural, suspicious death raises serious questions about the corruption of the American electoral process that now may never be answered.

Connell died Friday, December 19 when his Piper Saratoga plane crashed near his northern Ohio home. He was flying himself home from the College Park, Maryland airport. An accomplished pilot, flying in unremarkable weather, his death cuts off a critical path to much of what may never be known about how the 2004 election was shifted from John Kerry to George W. Bush in the wee hours of November 2. His plane crashed between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, one vacant, just 2.5 miles from the Akron-Canton airport.

A long-time, outspokenly loyal associate of the Bush family, Connell created the Bush-Cheney website for their 2000 presidential campaign. Connell may have played a role in various computer malfunctions that helped the GOP claim the presidency in 2000. As a chief IT consultant and operative for Karl Rove, Connell was a devout Catholic and the
father of four children. In various interviews and a deposition Connell cited his belief that abortion is murder as a primary motivating factor in his work for the Republican Party.

Connell recently wrote the following in his New Media Communications newsletter, regarding Barack Obama’s election: “In our 230 year history, our democracy has suffered worse fates. It’s just that none come to mind right now.” Connell wrote: “This is just a moment in time and this too shall pass. Enduring is the fact that 2000 years ago, a babe was born in Bethlehem. When our Lord God sent his only Son for our salvation,…In spite of the current economic and political conditions, salvation is eternal.”

Ohio Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell hired Connell in 2004 to create a real-time computer data compilation for counting Ohio’s votes. Under Connell’s supervision, Ohio’s presidential vote count was transmitted to private, partisan computer servers owned by SmartTech housed in the basement of the Old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Connell’s company, New Media Communications worked closely with SmartTech in building Republican and right-wing websites that were hosted on SmartTech servers. Among Connell’s clients were the Republican National Committee, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and gwb43.com. The SmartTech servers at one point housed Karl Rove’s emails. Some of Rove’s email files have since mysteriously disappeared despite repeated court-sanctioned attempts to review them.

In 2001, Michael Connell’s GovTech Solutions, LLC was selected to reorganize the Capitol Hill IT network, the only private-sector company to gain permission from HIR [House Information Resources] to place its server behind the firewall, he bragged. At 12:20 am on the night of the 2004 election exit polls and initial vote counts showed John Kerry the clear winner of Ohio’s presidential campaign. The Buckeye State’s 20 electoral votes would have given Kerry the presidency.

But from then until around 2am, the flow of information mysteriously ceased. After that, the vote count shifted dramatically to George W. Bush, ultimately giving him a second term. In the end there was a 6.7 percent diversion—in Bush’s favor—between highly professional,
nationally funded exit polls and the final official vote count as tabulated by Blackwell and Connell.

Until his death Connell remained the IT supervisor for six Congressional committees. But on the day before the 2008 election, Connell was deposed by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count, and his continued involvement
in IT operations for the GOP, including his access to Rove’s e-mail files and the circumstances behind their disappearance.

Various threats have been repeatedly reported involving Connell and other IT experts close to the GOP. On July 24, 2008, Arnebeck emailed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, stating: “We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that
Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King-Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio,….”

Connell’s death comes at a moment where election protection attorneys and others appeared to be closing in on critical irregularities and illegalities. In his pre-election deposition, Connell was generally evasive, but did disclose key pieces of information that could prove damaging to Karl Rove and the GOP. Examining attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit, stemming from the 2004 election theft, were confident Connell had far more to tell. There is widespread concern that this may be the reason he is now dead.

{Revised December 21, 2008: Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including AS GOES OHIO and HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICAS 2004 ELECTION…, available at www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King- Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit which subpoenaed and was deposing Michael Connell.}

Why Al Franken should NOT be riding private planes
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman  /  December 23, 2008

The tragic and suspicious death of Karl Rove’s election thief in chief
should send a clear message to Al Franken and other key liberals:
don’t be riding in any small private planes. Death by air crash now
seems to be the favored means of ridding the Rovian right of
troublesome characters. The most recent is Michael Connell, who died
Friday night when his private plane crashed near his northern Ohio
home. Connell was the information techology whiz kid who helped Rove
steal the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, along with a few in
between—possibly including the 2002 senatorial campaign in Minnesota
that followed the death of Paul Wellstone.

Connell was an expert pilot whose plane crashed in clear weather. He
held virtually all the secrets to how George W. Bush was illegally
foisted on the American people—and the world—for eight horrifying
years. By manipulating computerized results in Florida 2000 and Ohio
2004 Connell made history. By some accounts, he was about to tell the
attorneys in the on-going King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal civil
rights lawsuit how he did it. He also approached expressed a
willingness to appear under oath before Congress. But now he is dead.

Current cover stories include the possibility that his plane ran out
of fuel. But its crash was accompanied by a very large fireball
explosion that burned for more than ten minutes. A trooper on the
scene immediately identified Connell, but newspaper accounts say his
body was charred beyond recognition.

Connell told various sources that he was being threatened by Rove. He
canceled at least two previous flights due to mechanical failure. A
father of four, his decision to fly from a highly restricted airport
in Maryland remains a mystery. Connell reportedly did contract work
for security-industrial agencies, like the CIA. Connell also openly
acknowledged that he was the first IT contractor to move his servers
behind the firewall of the US House of Representatves where he oversaw
the websites of the House Judiciary Committee, Intelligence Committee,
Ways and Means Committee, and Administrative Committee, arguably the
four most powerful committees in the House.

He now joins such critical players as Paul Wellstone, Mel Carnahan,
Ron Brown, Mickey Leland, John Tower, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and many
more critical public figures who have died in small plane crashes at
questionable moments. In all cases there are non-nefarious potential
explanations for their deaths. Conspiracy theories can, indeed, be

But so can their out-of-hand dismissal by coincidence theorists. Both
Wellstone and Carnahan died two weeks before critical Senatorial
elections they were favored to win in a divided Senate. In 2000,
Carnahan’s Missouri seat was taken by his wife, who subsequently lost
it. Wellstone, the leading liberal light in the US Senate, had been
personally threatened by Dick Cheney for opposing the Iraq war.
Wellstone’s plane crashed under dubious circumstances, carrying
himself, his wife and daughter. In an extremely questionable outcome,
Norm Coleman got his seat.

Coleman was hand-picked by Karl Rove to run against Wellstone. His
ensuing victory over stand-in candidate Walter Mondale was the highly
unlikely outcome of a messy, manipulated election that coincided with
equally dubious senatorial vote counts in Georgia and Colorado. Al
Franken may now be poised to take back the Wellstone seat for the
Democratic Party. As an Air America talk host, he repeatedly mocked
those who were investigating the theft of the 2004 election.

wanted poster

Lawyer to AG Mukasey: Rove Threatened GOP IT Guru If He Does Not ‘Take
the Fall’ for Election Fraud in Ohio
BY Brad Friedman  /  July 31, 2008

Letter Sent to Attorney General Mukasey Requesting ‘Protection for Mr.
Connell and His Family From This Reported Attempt to Intimidate a
Witness’ After Tip from ‘Credible Source’

Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does
not “‘take the fall’ for election fraud in Ohio,” according to a
letter sent Thursday morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by
Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck. The email, posted in full
below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New
Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as “a
powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet
services” and having “played a strategic role in helping the GOP
expand its technological supremacy.”

Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff’s
attorneys in Ohio as a “high IQ Forrest Gump” for his appearance “at
the scene of every [GOP] crime” from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the
RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used
Congressional computer network firewall. Connell and his firm are
currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and
other Republican and so-called “faith-based” organizations.

In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal
specific details of the information that triggered his concern about
the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to
have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck
to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and
troubling. “If there’s a credible threat, which I regard this to be,”
he told The BRAD BLOG, “I have a professional duty to report it.”

Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not
successful. The disclosure from Arnebeck comes on the heels of a
dramatic announcement last week, made at a Columbus press
conference, announcing Arnebeck’s motion to lift a stay on the
long-standing King Lincoln Bronzwell v. Blackwell federal lawsuit,
challenging voting rights violations in the 2004 Presidential Election
in Ohio.

The motion was made following the discovery of new information,
including details from a Republican data security expert, leading
Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP
operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election
results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time
last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove…

“Mr. Rove’s e-mails from the White House to the Justice Department,
the FBI, the Pentagon, Congress and various federal regulatory
agencies are obviously relevant to the factual issues that we intend
to address in this case,” Arnebeck wrote last week to the Attorney
General. “We are concerned about reports that Mr. Rove not only
destroyed e-mails, but also took steps to destroy the hard drives from
which they had been sent.”

In his email to Mukasey today, Arnebeck writes: “We have been
confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that
Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have
identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus,
Ohio, that if he does not agree to ‘take the fall’ for election fraud
in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law

“This appears to be in response to our designation of Rove as the
principal perpetrator in the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act/RICO claim
with respect to which we issued document hold notices last Thursday to
you and to the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform,” the
Ohio attorney writes, before going on to link to The BRAD BLOG’s
coverage of his press conference last week and requesting “protection
for Mr. Connell and his family from this reported attempt to
intimidate a witness.”

The complete, short email, sent today from Arnebeck to AG Mukasey,
follows in full below:

Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 10:51 AM
To: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
Subject: Report of Rove threats against witness Michael Connell

Dear Attorney General Mukasey:

We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be
credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal
witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court
in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to “take the fall” for
election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for
supposed lobby law violations.This appears to be in response to our
designation of Rove as the principal perpetrator in the Ohio Corrupt
Practices Act/RICO claim with respect to which we issued document hold
notices last Thursday to you and to the US Chamber of Commerce
Institute for Legal Reform. See: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6189 and 

I have informed court chambers and am in the process of informing
the Ohio Attorney General’s and US Attorney’s offices in Columbus for
the purpose, among other things, of seeking protection for Mr. Connell
and his family from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness.

Concurrently herewith, I am informing Mr. Conyers and Mr. Kucinich
in connection with their Congressional oversight responsibilities
related to these matters.

Because of the serious engagement in this matter that began in
2000 of the Ohio Statehouse Press Corps, 60 Minutes, the New York
Times, Wall Street Journal, C-Span and Jim VandeHei, and the public’s
right to know of gross attempts to subvert the rule of law, I am
forwarding this information to them, as well.

Cliff Arnebeck, Attorney
Cell 614-361-9434

cc: Robert Fitrakis, Esq.
Henry Eckhart, Esq

Mike Connell was warned not to fly before plane crash
BY Wayne Madsen  /  Dec 22, 2008

WMR has learned from knowledgeable sources in Ohio that Republican
Party computer networking guru Mike Connell was warned not to fly in
anonymous warnings conveyed to principals in the ongoing federal civil
lawsuit of King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v.
Blackwell, stemming from GOP-engineered vote fraud in the 2004 Ohio
presidential election, as well as a potential Ohio racketeer-
influenced criminal organization (RICO) criminal proceeding against
former Bush White House aide Karl Rove and Blackwell, in the
conspiracy to illegally steer Ohioís 20 electoral votes to the Bush
column in 2004.

Connellís Piper Saratoga single-engine plane crashed during the
evening of December 19 in Uniontown, Ohio, as it was preparing to land
at Akron-Canton airport. There were no other passengers and Connell
was killed in the crash. Connell had flown to College Park, Maryland,
the previous day. Connell, who lived in Akron with his wife Heather
and four children, often flew to Washington for activities related to
his IT businesses.

Connellís name surfaced as a key player in Roveís election fraud
conspiracy after this yearís July 17 Columbus news conference hosted
by Cliff Arnebeck, the Ohio attorney who has been representing
plaintiffs in the federal civil suit against former Republican
Secretay of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. On the phone at the conference
was John McCain campaign adviser and computer security specialist
Stephen Spoonamore who identified Connell as a key player, as well as
potential trial witness, in the GOPís conspiracy to flip Ohio votes in
the 2004 election.

Spoonamore and Connell had reportedly worked together on foreign
elections in programs sponsored by the International Republican
Institute (ISI) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Both
had traveled abroad together on special election projects to ensure
ìfair votingî procedures.

For the first time, WMR has learned that the GOP vote flipping
conspiracy was in place earlier than the November 2004 general
election and was used to deny votes to Democratic candidates John
Edwards and Dennis Kucinich in the March 2, 2004, Democratic primary.
John Kerry won the primary with 52 percent of the vote to 34 percent
for Edwards and 9 percent for Kucinich.

After Connell was identified as a potential witness in the civil case
against Blackwell and a possible criminal Ohio RICO case against Rove,
Blackwell, and perhaps others, the plaintiff attorneys received a tip
from a high-level source in the McCain presidential campaign that Rove
had issued a threat against Connell. Connell had worked for the 2008
McCain presidential campaign on the development of its web pages.

WMR has learned from our Ohio sources that five threats against
Connell were conveyed to the election fraud plaintiff attorneys with
the last tip being ìConnell is in danger.î One of the threats
reportedly made by Rove to Connell was that Connell could forget about
a pardon from President George W. Bush if he did not ìtake the fallî
in the event criminal charges were brought and that his wife Heather,
who was used as a majority stockholder for one of Connellís web design
companies, GovTech Solutions, would be prosecuted for illegal
lobbying. Connellís other company is New Media Communications, Inc.

We have also learned that one additional tip was relayed to Connellís
wife and it was to the effect that Connell ìwas in danger and he
should not fly his plane.

Connellís firms received contracts to place its servers behind the
House of Representatives firewall courtesy of then-House
Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (R-OH), later jailed for his
role in the Jack Abramoff lobbying-influence peddling scandal. Connell
also designed and ran the web sites for the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee. WMR has
learned that through effective GOP control of these web sites, the
Bush White House was able to monitor all committee e-mails and
documents, including planning documents for House Judiciary Committee
impeachment hearings against Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

We have also learned that Connellís IT firm did classified web site
development work for the CIA.

Based on the threats against Connell, the federal judge hearing the
civil suit King Lincoln v. Blackwell, conveyed to Connell that the
court would protect him if he came forward. On October 17, 2008,
Connellís attorneys attempted to quash an October 8, 2008, plaintiff
subpoena for his court appearance. On October 31, U.S. Judge Solomon
Oliver denied the motion to quash the subpoena and ordered Connellís
deposition to proceed on November 3, the day before Election Day. WMR
has learned that on Friday, October 31, Connell was nervous and ìbeet
redî during the hearing to quash the subpoena. On Monday, November 3,
Connell was composed and it is believed that his top shelf law firm
had been selected by Rove to represent Connell for the deposition.
Roveís intent was to ensure that there would be no deposition from
Connell before the November 4 election.

WMR has also learned that Connell was prepared to testify before the
House Judiciary Committee about the election fraud in Ohio and other
states but that the offer of testimony was not acted upon senior
staffers for House Judiciary Committee Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). A
source in Columbus told us that some of Conyersí senior staffers on
his committee and in is office are not to be trusted on issues related
to election fraud.

In addition, Rove and the Bush White House attempted to forestall
testimony by election officials in Mahoning County and Youngstown,
Ohio, on election fraud in 2004 by promising to have former Rep. James
Traficant (D-OH), who is currently imprisoned after being convicted of
corruption, released early in return for their silence. Traficant is
not scheduled for release from federal prison until Sept, 2, 2009.

Mike Connell: A Trail of Questions At the End of the Road
BY luaptifer  /  12/23/2008

The crash of Michael Connell’s single-engine Piper last Friday leaves
a somber Christmas season ahead for his wife and four children and
ends the career of an information technology pioneer.  Connell’s
expertise drove the Republican Party onto the infotech highway of the
Internet era in time to seat the most famous of his three Bush clients
in the country’s top office. His death should mark the beginning of a
thorough examination of his political role inside the technology
infrastructures that elected and that supported an Administration so
widely recognized for politicizing the machine of Federal governance
and justice.

For the Bush dynasty’s RNC, Connell embodied a paraphrase of his
favorite place — he ~was~ the cutting-edge, not just at it.  His
partnership with the Party and its most powerful operatives (now known
as DCI Group among other names) gave its political and corporate
leaders the Internet edition of mass communication ‘astroturfing’
tools by which to engineer the consent of the public. His rapid rise
in the Party as the Internet also transformed the RNC’s ability to
coordinate its operations meant that, as the Republican revolution
asserted control over a Washington morphing into “dot gov”, Mike
Connell knew more than most about what can be done embedded inside
of government IT systems.

Over decades, Mike Connell has been more than a cybersurfer of
government IT systems.  He engineered wires and operating systems and
websites into the governments of Florida, Ohio, Texas, and the offices
which regulate the most sensitive of each branch of US Federal
government.  But Mike Connell was nothing if not a partisan.  Even as
most of the nation exulted in the change that Barack Obama’s election
signalled, Bob Fitrakis and Henry Wasserman report that Connell
lamented: “In our 230 year history, our democracy has suffered worse
fates. It’s just that none come to mind right now.”

His important legacy still seems poignantly illustrated by the simple
line (below) that we thought might focus the right attention to his
After nearly two years, the line image [at that address], misplaced by
his non-partisan GovTech Solutions in the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence during work for the Ohio GOP by his NewMedia
Communciations, is still greeting visitors to the Democratic majority-
controlled website.

After nearly a decade in which Karl Rove politically engineered the
policy machine of Federal government, the death of embedded
information engineer and Bush operative, Michael L. Connell, adds new
questions to those already proven difficult to answer but that must
still be asked. Towards answering those questions, we’ve tried to make
a comprehensive and chronological list of the reports by
ePluribusMedia researchers and writers from our first report of how
Mike Connell’s two companies bridged the political firewall between
GeorgeWBush.com and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s
election.sos.state.oh.us Election Night reporting service benefitting
the citizens of Ohio in the elections of 2004 and 2006.

Ohio GOP Website Model for Nation  /  April 1, 2004

Richfield, Ohio – The first in a series of state-focused GOP websites
was launched today with the goal of getting more Ohioans to think and
vote Republican. Designed by New Media Communications,
www.ohiogop.org, provides in-depth news and information on national,
state and local candidates and issues. Individual site visitors can also
customize it.

Having a single website that deals with everything from reelecting the
President to finding out more about who`s running for your local
county council is “extremely empowering for Republican voters,” New
Media President Mike Connell said. “This really is the future of state
parties, and sites like Ohio`s will become major tools in the
Republican arsenal,” he added.

As part of the national political toolkit, the site offers visitors
detailed information about the President`s agenda. It is action-
oriented and encourages interactivity. Visitors can download talking
points to help them articulate the Republican position on key issues.
They can also register to vote, volunteer, or make donations online.

Users who enter their residency and topical preferences can create
their own “myohiogop” site featuring the candidates and issues of
greatest importance to them. Local media contact information with
email links, county party pages, a “My events” section and detailed
information on state and local officials are all available to site
visitors. Their registration information, in turn, helps fuel the
Party`s database, which will aid in future message design and

“We’re really like the ‘Bell Labs’ of the Republican Party, developing
new technologies and electronic tools that will help the Party to gain
influence in key races up and down the ballot,” Connell said. “The
Ohio site is a strong prototype of what we hope to roll out all across
the country,” he added.

Working for a cause profitable, inspiring campaigns are on the
Internet now
BY Paula Schleis  /  Beacon Journal  /  February 22, 2008

With clients as diverse as John McCain for President 2008 and the
American Center for Law and Justice, Mike Connell finds great personal
satisfaction in the fact that his business can serve causes he
believes in. Last year, Mike Connell found himself on the border of
Thailand, teaching young people how to safely use technology to spread
the word of human-rights violations against Buddhist monks in
neighboring Myanmar (Burma). ”You have these incredibly brave
individuals who, in spite of the potential dangers, are willing to
blog . . . and tell the rest of the world what’s going on,” Connell

Helping people in oppressed countries and emerging democracies is one
area where Connell’s company, New Media Communications, sees growth.
But right now, the bills at this small Richfield company are primarily
paid by some very high-profile customers in the United States.
Connell’s team helped develop the John McCain for President Web site,
just as it helped develop the campaign Web sites for the last two Bush
presidential races.

New Media Communications was founded in 1995 by Connell, who was
bitten by the political bug in 1984 and never recovered. After
graduating from the University of Iowa, he worked on campaigns and
ended up on Capitol Hill as press secretary for former U.S. Rep.
Martin Hoke, R-Cleveland. Connell made the journey to Northeast Ohio
in 1994 after accepting Hoke’s offer to work in the district. An
Illinois native, Connell preferred to raise his young family in the
Midwest rather than in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Connell was watching with interest some wild advancements
in technology. ”I had the sense that there was something on the
horizon,” he said. ”I didn’t know exactly what it was.” ‘It’ turned
out to be the Internet, and in 1996, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole became
the first presidential candidates with campaign Web sites. They
weren’t very interactive. Connell called them ”billboards in the
sky.” But it was clear this new form of media had forever changed the

In 1998, New Media Communications was chosen to design the campaign
Web site for Jeb Bush son of a former president, brother to a future
president who went on to win the governor’s race in Florida. ”That’s
the race that put us on the map,” Connell said. In 2000, the Bush
family went to New Media again. The company built George Bush’s
presidential campaign Web site then, and four years later for his run
at a second term.

In between presidential elections, the company has built Web sites for
a variety of Republican candidates, for organizations like the
National Rifle Association and the American Center for Law and
Justice, even a companion site to the film The Case for Christ.
Connell said there is great personal satisfaction that his business
also serves causes he believes in. ”The one thing that I’ve learned
about myself is if I don’t get excited about something, it’s tough for
me to do the work,” he said.

That doesn’t mean everything has gone smoothly. At one time, New
Media employed more than 40 people, an upstart that made Inc.
magazine’s list of the country’s fastest-growing companies. But the
tech stock crash of 2001, followed by the terrorist attacks that year, led
to a slow but steady downsizing of the company. New Media now
employs 18 and Connell said that painful period ended up making the
company leaner and meaner.

Among other reasons, it now has the luxury of being picky about what
projects it takes on. When New Media was twice its size, it couldn’t
say no to a project. There was a payroll to meet and people who needed
to stay busy. But Connell said he wouldn’t mind growing in the
international arena. New Media has done work overseas since the late
1990s, starting with former communist countries that were learning
about democracy.

Connell found that people who had never run free elections before were
far more open to high-tech experiments than here in the United States,
where old habits die hard. When Slovenia went to the polls in 2000,
New Media organized a get-out-the-vote effort using cell-phone text
messaging. In a country with poor infrastructure, wireless technology
had leaped ahead of the Western world and 80 percent of the country’s
youth was texting.

That kind of work eventually led to Connell’s interest in helping
people communicate in closed societies, where governments censor the
Internet and imprison people who speak their minds. The risks were
made clear to Connell last year when he met a young man on the
Myanmar border who had spent much of his adult life in prison for
circulating lyrics to a song critical of the government.

In addition to training groups and individuals on how to use
technology without getting caught, Connell hopes New Media will
contribute to adapting that technology as governments learn how to
close old avenues down. He compared it to a game of cat and mouse.
”Part of the strategies in a lot of these areas is to prevent people
from letting the rest of the world know what’s really going on in the
country and how bad the conditions are and what the human-rights
violations are,” Connell said, ”so the Internet becomes a megaphone
for telling the rest of the world, ‘Hey, this is what’s really
happening here,’ and send out your cry for help.”

Mike Connell used tech in innovative ways to help politicians  /  July
12, 2005

When it comes to politics, the power of technology to rally followers
and spread a message is often taken for granted. But it hasn’t always
been so. Just ask Mike Connell. In 1995, after working for nearly a
decade as a database and computer guru in various political campaigns,
Connell started New Media Communications, dedicated to using
developing technologies such as the Internet to enhance political
campaigns. The only problem was, there weren’t any clients. Political
parties still relied on methods such as phone calls, direct mail
campaigns and door-to-door canvassing to reach voters. Internet
service was not yet a household item, and politicians didn’t want to
invest in such a limited resource.

Connell’s innovative idea was years ahead of his client base. It
wasn’t until 1997, two years after he started his business, that
Connell began to find work. Jeb Bush, a gubernatorial candidate in
Florida, called Connell about a Web site and Internet strategy,
establishing New Media Communications as the leader in new technology.
Since then, the company has developed Web sites, created Internet
strategies and launched e-mail campaigns for clients such as the Bush-
Cheney presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004, the Republican
National Committee, the National Crime Prevention Council, and for
various senators and governors.

In 2000, Connell orchestrated a cell phone text messaging campaign in
Slovenia that got record numbers of youth to vote, and that has been
replicated in every major European election since.”


“Donatelli, whose Virginia company sticks to Republican clients, said
Kerry’s site wasn’t as effective because it focused on fund raising
more than mobilizing voters. “Republicans used to be known as the
party that believed in organization. Then the Democrats took over our
role,” she said. “This time, the RNC put more focus on grass-roots
campaigning. The Web is perfect for that.”

Some of the ideas for spicing up www.georgewbush.com came from
as far up the food chain as Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove. “The Bush
campaign, to their credit, ran a very tech-savvy campaign,” Connell
said. In the meantime, Connell said his company is just trying to
capitalize on the success of the past and move forward with cutting-
edge ways to reach voters. “Every four years, the presidential
campaigns are going to be the technology leaders,” he said.

Company history
New Media Communications was founded in 1994, and landed a contract
a few years later to run Jeb Bush’s online campaign in the Florida
governor’s race. Connell has deep ties to the Republican Party. He
worked on George H.W. Bush’s campaign for president in the 1980s and
later worked for his administration. When Connell founded New Media
Communications, the relationships he had developed helped the company
land contracts with Bush and Cheney in 2000, then Sen. George
Voinovich, the National Rifle Association, the Republican National
Committee and the Ohio Republican Party.

Those Web sites and others for congressional candidates brought in
more than $1.2 million between January 2003 and October 2004,
according to Dwight L. Morris & Associates, a consulting firm
specializing in campaign finance research. Being GOP isn’t a
requirement to work at New Media Communications, but it helps.

Running political Web sites is a big, but niche market. There aren’t
many players, Connell said, and business usually comes through word of
mouth. “It’s important you stick to your own side of the aisle,” he
said. New Media Communications’ allegiance is apparently paying off,
although Connell declined to say how well. “We do campaigns because we
love doing campaigns,” Connell said. “We don’t do them because they`re
highly lucrative.”

However, according to the Federal Election Commission, the company
received more than $800,000 from the Bush-Cheney campaign between
January 2003 and October 2004. That’s 42 percent of the $1.9 million
spent on the Web site altogether, according to Dwight L. Morris &

New Mediaís client list reads like a “Who’s Who” of Republican

“We have no glitzy marketing campaigns or slick sales force. So how
does a small company in Ohio amass such an impressive national and
international client list? Word-of-mouth and client referrals? Yes,
and doing great work is a given, but we also make it a priority to
build good working relationships with our clients. By partnering with
people we respect and building trust over time, New Media has become
known as the firm clients can consistently count on to deliver
solutions that make a difference over the long haul. Among the
political and issue advocacy clients New Media has been pleased to
serve are:

* Spence Abraham for Senate 2000
* Alabama Republican Party
* Lamar Alexander for Senate 2002
* American Center for Law & Justice
* American Solutions (Newt Gingrich)
* Arizona Republican Party
* Barton for Congress 2002/2004/2006
* BASF Government Relations
* Business Roundtable
* Bush-Brogan 1998/2002
* Bush-Cheney 2000/2004
* Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition
* Carmel Entertainment Group
* Center for the Study of Popular Culture
* Charles Schwab
* Citizens for Tax Repeal
* Citizens for the Protection of Marriage
* Cleveland Public Library
* Connecticut Republican State Central Committee
* Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE)
* Delaware Republican Party
* Dick DeVos for Governor 2006
* District of Columbia Republican Party
* Elizabeth Dole for Senate 2002
* European Center for Law & Justice
* Florida Executive Office of the Governor
* Florida Republican Party
* Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
* Free Enterprise Fund
* Freedom Center (David Horowitz)
* The Freedom Project (John Boehner)
* Greater Cleveland Growth Association
* Mike Huckabee for Governor 2002
* Kenny Hulshof for Congress 2004/2006
* Hawaii Republican Party
* Idaho Republican Party
* Jim Inhofe for Senate 2008
* International Association of Political Consultants
* International Democrat Union
* International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES)
* International Republican Institute
* Iowa Republican Party
* Kansas Republican State Committee
* Kentucky Republican Party
* Louisiana Republican Party
* Mark Kennedy for Congress 2002/2004
* Maine Republican Party
* Maryland Republican Party
* Massachusetts Republican State Committee
* John McCain 2008 Presidential Committee
* Microsoft
* Montana Republican Party
* National Association of Manufacturers
* National Cable & Telecommunications Association
* National Federation of Independent Business
* National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action
* National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund
* New York City 2004 RNC Host Committee
* North Dakota Republican Party
* Ohioans for Blackwell 2002/2006
* Ohio Republican Party
* Oklahoma Republican Party
* Oregon Republican Party
* Republican Governors Association
* Republican Jewish Coalition
* Republican National Committee
* Republican Party of Arkansas
* Republican Party of New Mexico
* Republican State Central Committee of Nevada
* Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania
* Rhode Island Republican Party
* Pat Roberts for Senate 2008
* Jim Ryan for Governor 2002
* Rick Santorum for Senate 2000/2006
* Rob Simmons for Congress 2004
* Gordon Smith for Senate 2002
* South Carolina Republican Party
* South Dakota Republican Party
* Ted Stevens for Senate 2002
* Bob Taft for Governor 1998/2002
* John Thune for Senate 2002/2004
* Utah Republican Party
* Vermont Republican State Committee
* David Vitter for Senate 2004
* George Voinovich for Senate 2004
* Washington State Republican Party
* Heather Wilson for Congress 2000/2002/2004/2006
* Heather Wilson for Senate 2008
* Wyoming Republican Party ”

Legal Worries Over Missing Emails Grow
by John D. McKinnon  /  April 16, 2007
“The revelation of missing emails at the White House and Republican
National Committee could become a legal headache as well as a
political problem for President Bush. The clock already is ticking on
the administration’s promise to Congress to find out what happened.
Senate Judiciary Committee leaders plan to meet with White House
Counsel Fred Fielding today to “get this matter moving forward…so
that we can figure out whether anything wrong was done,” Sen. Arlen
Specter (R-PA) said on ABC’s “This Week.” Critics say the White House
has violated the Presidential Records Act, a 1978 law that requires
each administration to maintain an adequate record of its
deliberations. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino acknowledged on
Thursday that “We screwed up.” What’s of equal concern, potentially,
are the legal obligations that arose for the White House because of
federal investigations into the leaking of the identity of a CIA
agent, Valerie Plame Wilson, and into Republican lobbyist Jack
Abramoff. Once those investigations began, the legal burden on the
White House to preserve emails grew. The key issue for the White House
is whether people involved in the erasures intended to impede an








“Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney in the controversial King-Lincoln v.
Ohio Sec. of State lawsuit, talks about the aim of the suit and the
impact on the planned fix of the recent election of deposing under
oath Mike Connell, head IT operative for the Republican Party and the
McCain campaign, on the day before the vote.”






Rove E-Mail Sought by Congress May Be Missing
RNC Took Away His Access to Delete Files in 2005
by Michael Abramowitz  /  April 13, 2007

A lawyer for the Republican National Committee told congressional
staff members yesterday that the RNC is missing at least four years’
worth of e-mail from White House senior adviser Karl Rove that is
being sought as part of investigations into the Bush administration,
according to the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform

GOP officials took issue with Rep. Henry Waxman’s account of the
briefing and said they still hope to find the e-mail as they conduct
forensic work on their computer equipment. But they acknowledged that
they took action to prevent Rove — and Rove alone among the two dozen
or so White House officials with RNC accounts — from deleting his e-
mails from the RNC server. Waxman (D-Calif.) said he was told the RNC
made that move in 2005.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Waxman said the
RNC lawyer, Rob Kelner, also raised the possibility that Rove had
personally deleted the missing e-mails, all dating back to before
2005. GOP officials said Kelner was merely speaking hypothetically
about why e-mail might be missing for any staffer and not referring to
Rove in particular.

The disclosures helped fan the controversy over what the White House
has acknowledged to be the improper use of political e-mail accounts
to conduct official government business. Democrats are suspicious that
Rove and other senior officials were using the political accounts, set
up by the RNC, to avoid scrutiny from Congress. E-mails already in the
public record suggest that at least some White House officials were
mindful of a need not to discuss certain matters within the official
White House e-mail system.

Yesterday, congressional Democrats denounced the White House after
administration officials acknowledged this week that e-mails dealing
with official government business, including the firing of U.S.
attorneys, may have been lost because they were improperly sent
through political messaging accounts. Twenty-two White House officials
— and a total of about 50 over the course of the administration —
have been given such accounts to avoid doing political work on
government equipment. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, accused the White House of lying about the
matter. He was joined by the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen.
Arlen Specter (Pa.), in calling on the White House to join Congress in
setting up a “fair and objective process for investigating this

“You can’t erase e-mails, not today,” Leahy said in an angry speech on
the Senate floor. “They’ve gone through too many servers. Those e-
mails are there — they just don’t want to produce them. It’s like the
infamous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes.” White House
officials rejected that explanation. “What we have done has been
forthcoming, honest,” spokeswoman Dana Perino said. “We are trying to
understand to the best of our ability the universe of the e-mails that
were potentially lost, and we are taking steps to make sure that we
use the forensics that are available to retrieve any of those that are

The disclosures came as White House counsel Fred F. Fielding rejected
demands for a compromise on providing testimony and records to
Congress related to the prosecutor firings. In a letter to the heads
of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Fielding said the White
House is standing firm with its “unified offer,” which would include
providing a limited set of documents. The White House has proposed
allowing Rove and other aides to be interviewed privately, without a
transcript and not under oath.

Fielding also wrote that it “remains our intention to collect e-mails
and documents” from the RNC and other outside accounts used by White
House officials. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved, but did not
issue, new subpoenas for the Justice Department yesterday.

Gonzales, meanwhile, has been preparing for a pivotal appearance on
Tuesday before the committee, including mock testimony sessions
lasting up to five hours a day, officials said. E-mails from Rove and
other White House officials potentially figure in a number of
congressional investigations. Democrats are seeking the RNC e-mails as
part of an effort to determine the extent of Rove’s role in firing the
U.S. attorneys and the alleged politicization at the General Services

The RNC yesterday turned over to the White House a copy of e-mail
records for administration officials still on the RNC server to
determine whether any of them are privileged or whether they can be
provided to congressional investigators. Officials indicated that they
would include post-2005 e-mails from Rove.

GOP officials said they are also trying to determine whether they can
recover other e-mail that may have been deleted through regular purges
of e-mails or by deliberate deletion by White House staff. Waxman said
the RNC indicated that it had destroyed all e-mail records from White
House officials in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

In 2004, the RNC exempted White House officials from its policy of
purging all e-mail after 30 days, so any lost e-mail after that date
would have been presumably deleted by a White House official. “We do
not know what exists pre-2005 — we are in the process of trying to
determine what, if anything, does,” RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt
said. Another GOP official familiar with the inner workings of the RNC
said officials have no evidence that Rove had deliberately deleted any
e-mail. Kelner referred calls to the RNC, and the White House said
Rove was not available to comment.

Republican officials also said there was nothing nefarious in their
decision to take precautions to preserve Rove’s e-mail. According to
Waxman, Kelner told his staff that the RNC commenced a program in
2005 that took away Rove’s ability to personally delete his e-mails.
GOP officials said that was done only to preserve records for possible
use in legal settings, not out of any concern that Rove would seek to
scrub his e-mail account.

Erasing an e-mail message beyond hope of retrieval is not easy,
experts said. In general, deleting any file on a computer does not
make it go away, because the computer normally will erase not the file
but rather its own records of it. “The data is not gone until it is
overwritten,” said John Christopher, senior data-recovery engineer at
Novato, Calif.-based DriveSavers. The “deleted” file will remain on
the hard drive, where it can still be found and read until other data
are saved to the same spot.

The same thing happens with e-mail: Trashing a message only means
that the mail program clears its records of where it had filed that e-mail
in its own database. Paul Robichaux, a principal with the Redmond,
Wash., technology services firm 3Sharp and the author of three books
about Microsoft’s e-mail software, compared it to a library that
removes the entry for a book from its card catalogue: “The book is
still on the shelf.”

bcc: ALL
RE: Those Missing White House Emails

Subpoenas have been authorized, the press is swarming, the Bush
administration’s flacks are taking a pounding ó I think it’s safe to
say that the White House email controversy has officially blossomed
into a full-blown scandal. This week the White House acknowledged that
it may have “lost” an unspecified number of emails that were sent by
staffers who used non-governmental, RNC-issued email addresses in what
seemed at times a conscious effort to prevent their correspondence
from becoming public record. “We screwed up, and we’re trying to fix
it,” White House spokesperson Dana Perino told the press yesterday.
She noted that only “a small slice” of the president’s staff ó among
them Karl Rove and his deputies ó used email addresses, along with
BlackBerrys and laptops, supplied by the RNC. However, no mention has
been made ó and it’s possible that in the end there may be no way of
knowing ó of just how many administration officials were circumventing
the White House servers by using conventional Web mail services, such
as Yahoo! or Gmail. This also appears to have been a fairly common
practice among staffers who, as one administration official told U.S.
News & World Report in 2004, “don’t want my email made public.”

As the White House comes under increasing scrutiny, the picture just
keeps getting bleaker. We learned yesterday, for instance, that until
August 2004 the RNC had a policy of deleting emails on its servers
that were more than 30 days old. After “legal inquires,” presumably
those of CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the committee began
saving the correspondence of White House officials. So, since Karl
Rove is said to use his RNC address 95 percent of the time, and is a
well known email fanatic, the RNC should have quite a hefty record of
his communications, right? Strangely, the RNC doesn’t have records of
a single Rove email until 2005, which, as the committee’s counsel Rob
Kelner told members of Henry Waxman’s Government Reform Committee,
may have been because Rove was deleting them himself. This, it seems,
is what led the RNC to remove Rove’s ability to delete his messages and
place an automatic archiving function solely on his account. Today,
Rove’s lawyer Robert Luskin explained that his client didn’t
intentionally purge his emails ó rather, in the course of routine
housekeeping, he would delete emails to keep his inbox in order. “His
understanding starting very, very early in the administration was that
those e-mails were being archived,” Luskin said.

Beyond Rove’s missing emails, and others the White House believes
may have been lost due to the RNC’s email purging policy, it seems
there is another trove of emails that are unaccounted for ó millions of
them, actually. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and
Ethics in Washington reported yesterday that, according to two
sources, “in addition to the so-called political emails sent through
private accounts, there are over five million emails sent on White
House servers over a two-year period that are also missing.” In 2005,
according to CREW, the White House Office of Administration discovered
a problem with its archiving system and, after looking further into
the issue, realized “there were hundreds of days in which emails were
missing for one or more of the EOP [Executive Office of the President]
components subject to the PRA [Presidential Records Act].” Though a
plan was drawn up to recover the missing emails, CREW says, no action
was ever taken to retrieve the lost messages.

In its report, CREW also raises two issues that I brought up in my
original story on the controversy. The first is the Hatch Act
“excuse,” as CREW puts it. The White House has maintained (and the
press hasn’t challenged) that administration officials with political
duties were using a separate, RNC-administered email system in order
to avoid breaching Hatch, which prohibits federal employees from
engaging in political activity on the job. This certainly seems like a
reasonable explanation, unless you actually read the law. It states
clearly that Senate-confirmed presidential appointees and staffers
whose salaries are paid from an appropriation for the Executive Office

of the President (read: White House officials) are allowed to engage
in political activity that is otherwise prohibited to other federal
employees ó for instance, they are allowed to talk strategy with the
RNC anytime, anywhere ó as long as the associated costs are not picked
up by taxpayers. While in the Clinton White House separate computer
terminals were apparently set aside for staffers with political
duties, the use of partisan email addresses is a new and highly
unusual wrinkle. As Steven Aftergood, the director of the Federation
of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy told me a couple
weeks back, “It shows how closely intertwined the White House is with
its partisan allies. The fact that the White House and the RNC are
working hand in hand and White House officials are using RNC emails is
itself remarkable.”

The other question I raised has to do with an intriguing line in a
January 2006 letter from Patrick Fitzgerald to Scooter Libby’s defense
team that’s buried deep in the USA v. Libby docket. In it, Fitzgerald
informs Libby’s lawyers that the prosecution had “learned that not all
email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the
President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the
normal archiving process on the White House computer system.” Karl
Rove’s lawyer told the AP today that Fitzgerald had access to emails
from Rove’s various accounts. He also noted that, in addition to the
White House, the prosecutor subpoenaed records from the RNC and the
president’s reelection campaign. “There’s never been any suggestion
that Fitzgerald had anything less than a complete record,” Luskin

Considering that we now know that millions of White House emails are
potentially MIA, all of them drafted during a time period that would
have been relevant to Fitzgerald’s investigation, if that hasn’t been
suggested before it certainly will be now.

White House Emails: The Missing Link?
by Rebecca Abrahams  /  October 21, 2008

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed prosecutor Nora Dannehy
to investigate whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and
other Administration officials should face criminal charges in the
firing of nine US attorneys. The launch of this investigation follows
a 358-page report citing a lack of cooperation by senior White House
officials and the Justice Department in Congress’ inquiry into the US
prosecutor purge. A critical link to the Justice Department and White
House’s involvement in the firings lies in the missing White House
emails, which have reportedly been purged from White House servers.

Although several administration officials, including Gonzales have
testified before the Judiciary Committee, there is one person, yet to
be interviewed, who may hold the keys to the missing emails — Bush IT
expert Mike Connell. Most people have never heard of Mike Connell. But
that’s no surprise as the very nature of his job keeps him behind the
scenes. Connell is the architect and cyber keymaster of George W. Bush
election websites including GeorgeWBush.com and GWB43.com, the site
Karl Rove used for 95-percent of his email communication. Connell is
also the CEO of Govtech Solutions, the company responsible for
building and managing congressional email servers and firewalls.

According to SourceWatch, Connell also developed websites for the
House Intelligence, Judiciary, Financial Services, Ways and Means, and
Administration Committees. For obvious reasons, this would appear to
be a conflict of interest since Connell has a history of building
partisan websites including RNC.org, anti-Kerry website
swiftboatvetsfortruth.org and former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth J
Blackwell’s election websites, to name a few. Connell currently heads
up IT for the McCain campaign.

Like former Diebold CEO Wally O’Dell who in 2004 penned a letter
stating he was committed “to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes
to the President,” Mike Connell told Inside Business magazine in 1999,
“I’m loyal to my friends and I’m loyal to the Bush family.”

An October 11, 2006 meeting between Connell, GovTech Solutions
President Randy Cole (who is now running for State Representative in
Ohio) and Cybrinth CEO Stephen Spoonamore, raises more than a few
questions regarding Connell’s loyalty to the Bushes. At the time,
Spoonamore, a leading cyber security expert, was considering a project
with Connell. During this meeting, Spoonamore indicated that Connell
asked him about ways to “permanently destroy hard drives.” Spoonamore
said, “If this is what I think you’re talking about, this meeting is
over.” Spoonamore provided the following notes from his meeting, which
was confirmed by a source close to the situation:

“On Oct 11, 2006: 14:30-16:00 Mike Connell and others from his firm
(s) met with me and others from my firm at the Cybrinth LLC offices to
discuss three things:
1 – Some overseas IT incidents that effected clients both of us
service in a negative manner. Nothing to do with White House that I
know of.
2 – Cybrinth’s ongoing work in data destruction to protect
communications from latency intercepts. This was something of keen
interest to them, and Cybrinth has better working knowledge of this
area than they did at that time. We were, and are, working on this
issue for several elite clients.
3 – GovTech’s needs to upgrade email and communication system
security with several clients. Mike specifically stated this included
some systems impacting the White House email. I don’t know if these
were .gov domains or off-the-books domains.”

Spoonamore says while he doesn’t know whether Connell had a role in
the White House email purge, he’s a vital to uncovering the truth
about the missing communications. Spoonamore adds, Connell has
knowledge of where the emails were routed and where they may be
recovered because he built and maintained the system. “Mike is much
more of a partisan than I am… and has been involved, certainly in
building the front ends, the website application ends of many of the
same people that I would have concerns about and would like to talk

While the last time the two met was nearly two years ago, Spoonamore
and Connell’s paths continue to cross in unexpected ways. Spoonamore,
a life-long Republican, is currently serving as a star witness in a
lawsuit charging the GOP with rerouting Ohio 2004 election headquarter
tabulators to SmartTech servers in Chatanooga, Tennessee before
releasing them to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s office. The
lawsuit maintains that Karl Rove, with the assistance of Mike Connell,
architected and directed a strategy to manipulate elections through
the use of computers. Although this all sounds like fodder for
conspiracy theorists, it should be noted that SmartTech servers also
run the GeorgeWBush.com and GWB43.com websites and email systems.

Spoonamore links GovTech and SmartTech in the following email dated
June 12, 2007: “There is no difference between GovTech and SmartTech.
Randy Cole and his wife, siblings and a few friends own a rainbow of
companies, all privately held, and constantly changing names. He has
two long time guys who I know, who also run his A-List operations.
Mike Connell (Plans the Operations) + Michael Gaines (IT lead
architect on many projects). All of his companies do the following
things almost interchangably:
GOP Campaign Work (Bush00, Bush Transition Team, Bush04, 40+ GOP
Congress runs, 25+ GOP Senate runs etc)
GOP Computer Support for GOP operations (some of it nasty)
Anti-Abortion Groups Computers (He does them for free for the Tax
Write Off via sponsor churches)
Radical Christian Fascists Church Computers (Again for Free for
the Tax Write offs)
Government Agency Contracts (Including several committees on the
House and Senate side from 01-06)
GOP Mass Mailing/Phone Bank computers

These are all companies controlled by Randy Cole, either openly,
or via direct family/political ties:
SmartTech Solutions
New Media Communications
New Media Solutions
GovTech Solutions (this one built a lot of systems on the Hill)
Government Technology Systems
Government Technology Solutions (Also had/has Hill contracts)
SmartTouch Technologies
Christian Computer Services
New Life Technologies
The Message Technologies

He also has some phone bank companies, but I have never dug into
that nest of issues. They even tried to hire Cybrinth last year to
increase the security for some of their ‘more sensitive’ clients.
Among those they included the RNC, but not the Hill.”

Connell has been subpoenaed and ordered to produce documents related
to the case. He responded by hiring three high-powered GOP-connected
attorneys, including Bill Todd, former counsel to Bush/Cheney ’04.
Connell’s attorneys filed a motion to quash the subpoena and an
affidavit stating that his information is confidential. Ohio Attorney
Cliff Arnebeck is attempting to secure a court order to enforce the
subpoena, convinced Connell’s has vital information about SmartTech
and the 2004 election. I contacted Connell on several occasions to ask
him about his meeting with Spoonamore, the White House emails and the
lawsuit, but did not receive a response. Perhaps Nora Dannehy will
have better luck.


Republican IT Specialist Dies in Plane Crash  /  12.22.2008

A top Republican internet strategist who was set to testify in a case
alleging election tampering in 2004 in Ohio has died in a plane crash.
Michael Connell was the chief IT consultant to Karl Rove and created
websites for the Bush and McCain electoral campaigns. Michael Connell
was deposed one day before the election this year by attorneys Cliff
Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count
in Ohio and his access to Karl Roveís email files and how they went

AMY GOODMAN: A top Republican internet strategist who was set to
testify in a case alleging election tampering in 2004 in Ohio has died
in a plane crash. Mike Connell was the chief IT consultant to Karl
Rove and created websites for the Bush and McCain electoral campaigns.
He also set up the official Ohio state election website reporting the
2004 presidential election returns.

Connell was reportedly an experienced pilot. He died instantly Friday
night when his private plane crashed in a residential neighborhood
near Akron, Ohio.

Michael Connell was deposed one day before the election this year by
attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the
2004 vote count and his access to Karl Roveís email files and how they
went missing.

Velvet Revolution, a non-profit investigating Connellís activities,
revealed this weekend that Connell had recently said he was afraid
George Bush and Dick Cheney would ìthrow [him] under the bus.î Cliff
Arnebeck had also previously alerted Attorney General Michael Mukasey
to alleged threats from Karl Rove to Connell if he refused to ìtake
the fall.î

Well, Mark Crispin Miller joins us now, a professor of media culture
and communication at New York University, the author of several books,
including Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of
Democracy, 2000-2008 and Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004
Election & Why Theyíll Steal the Next One Too. Mark Crispin Miller us
now in our firehouse studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Itís good to be here, Amy. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Alright, well, we had you on right before the election,
because thatís when Mike Connell was being deposed. This news that
came out of his death in a plane crash on Friday night, talk about
what you understand has happened.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, I cannot assert with perfect confidence
that this was no accident, but I will say that the circumstances are
so suspicious and so convenient for Rove and the White House that I
think weíre obliged to investigate this thing very, very thoroughly.
And that means, first of all, taking a close look at some of the
stories that were immediately circulated to account for what happened,
that it was bad weather. That was the line they used when Wellstoneís
plane went down. There had been bad weather, but it had passed two
hours before. And this comes from a woman at the airport information
desk in Akron. Weíre told that his plane was running out of gas, which
is a little bit odd for a highly experienced pilot like Connell, but
apparently, when the plane went down, there was an explosion, a
fireball that actually charred and pocked some of the house fronts in
the neighborhood. People can go online and see the footage that news
crews took. But beyond the, you know, dubiousness of the official
story, we have to take a close look atóand a serious look at all the
charges that Connell was set to make.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, he had asked the Attorney General Mukasey for
protective custody, because of threats to him and his wife?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: He reported threats to his lawyer, Cliff
Arnebeck, and Arnebeckóalso, Velvet Revolution heard from tipsters, as
well, tipsters who also claimed that Connellís life was at risk.
Stephen Spoonamore, the whistleblower who was the firstówho was the
one to name Connell in the first place, also had an ear to the inside.
Heís also very connected. And all these people were saying Rove is
making threats, the White House is very worried about this case.

Having heard all this, Arnebeck contacted Mukasey, he contacted Nancy
Rogers, who is the Ohio Attorney General, and he wrote a letter to the
court, telling all of them that ìThis man should be in protective
custody. He is an important witness in a RICO case. Please do
something to look after him.î And they didnít respond to this.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain what this case is all about and exactly what
Mike Connell has been doing over these last years. What does it mean
to be Karl Roveís IT guru?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, the lawyers in the case refer to him as a
high-IQ Forrest Gump, by which they mean that he seems to have been
present at the scene of every dubious election of the last eight
years. Weíre talking about Florida in 2000. Weíre talking about Ohio
in 2004. Weíre talking about Alabama in 2002. He seems to have been
involved in the theft of Don Siegelmanís re-election for governor.
Thereís some evidence that links him with the Saxby Chambliss-Max
Cleland Senate race in Georgia in 2002. To be Karl Roveís IT guru
seems to have meant basically setting it up so that votes could be
electronically shaved to the disadvantage of the Democrats and the
advantage of Republicans.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, ‘electronically shaved’? I mean,
you’ve got all these precincts all over Ohio. Theyíre counting up their
votes. What does he have to do with this?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, specifically, thereís a computer
architecture setup called ìMan in the Middle,” which involves shunting
the election returns from, you know, the state in questionóin this
case, Ohioóshunting them to a separate computer elsewhere. All of the
election returns in Ohio in 2004 went from the Secretary of Stateís
websiteóthis is Ken Blackwellóto a separate computer in a basement in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was under the control of another private
company called SMARTech.

So we have now two private companies: GovTech Solutions, which is
Connellís company, SMARTech, which is run by a guy named [Jeff]
Averbeck. And the companyóthe third private company that managed the
voting tabulators in Ohio was called Triad. All three of these
companies worked closely together on election night in Ohio in 2004.
It turns out that the stateís own IT person was sent home at 9:00 p.m.
They said, ìGo ahead. Go home. Weíll take care of this.î So that this
trio of highly partisan and, let me add, Christianist companies
basically took over the wholeó

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, ‘Christianist’?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, theyíre radical theocratic activists,
particularlyóparticularly Triad and SMARTech. You know, they are
fervently anti-choice.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mike Connell was, in factómany said thatís what
motivated him through all of this, his fierce anti-abortion stance.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: He toldóConnell told Spoonamore that one of the
primary reasons why he helped Bush-Cheney steal elections was to save
the babies. I do think, though, that we have to draw a distinction
between Connell, on the one hand, and the Averbeck and the Rapp
family, on the other hand, because Connell was far less ferocious in
his political views. He was an ardent anti-abortionist, itís true, but
he wasnít quite as hardcore as the others. And in fact, you know, he
was a little bit alienated from the others, and thatís one of the
reasons why he was inclined to talk, and so on.

But the fact is, to answer your question, that on election night in
2004, it had been Connell, with these other two companies working with
him, who had managed the computer setup, enabling Ken Blackwell to
study the maps of precincts and voter turnout very carefully and
figure out how many votes they need. By shunting the data to
Chattanooga, they kind of slowed down the data stream.

AMY GOODMAN: Wasnít Karl Roveís email also there in Chattanooga on
some of these servers?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yes, yes. The same servers were used to host a
whole bunch of highly partisan websites. And also, indeed, Karl Roveís
emails were on that server, too.

AMY GOODMAN: That have gone missing.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: That have gone missing. Incidentally, Stephen
Spoonamore, again, the whistleblower whoís the one who named Connell,
has told usóand Iíve seen his own contemporary notesó

AMY GOODMAN: And explain again who he was. Why was he in a position
to whistleblow?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Stephen Spoonamore is a conservative Republican,
a former McCain supporter and a very prominent expert at the detection
of computer fraud. Heís the star witness in the Ohio lawsuit, right,
in which Connell was involved. He has done extensive work of this
kind, involving computer security, and had therefore worked with
Connell, knew Connell personally and knew a lot of the people who were
involved in the sort of cyber-security end of the Bush operation.

Despite his conservatismóor I suppose some would say because of itó
heís a man of principleóI mean, believes in the Constitution. He
believes elections should be honest. Heís the one who came forward and
named Connell.

And I have seen his notes of a conversation in which Connell asked
Spoonamore how one would go about destroying White House emails. To
this, Spoonamore said, ìThis conversation is over. Youíre asking me to
do something illegal.î But clearly, clearlyóthis is the important point
óMike Connell was up past his eyeballs in the most sensitive and
explosive aspects of this crime family that, you know, has been
masquerading as a political party.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did Fitrakis, the attorney who has brought the
suit with Harvey Wasserman, the Ohio lawsuit, learn in the deposition
of Mike Connell in the day before the election, which hardly got
attention, considering it was the day before this historic election?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yeah. Harvey wasnít part of it. Harvey writes
articles with Bob. Itís Bob Fitrakis and Cliff Arnebeck are the
attorneys. They learned very little. What they learned was that Bush-
Cheney lawyer who accompanied Connell to the deposition was watching
the whole thing like a hawk, repeatedly objected to questions. Connell
was stonewalling like crazy at this deposition.

They only learned one thing. And that was, they got confirmation that
it was Connell who brought these other private companies into the
arrangement, in addition to his own GovTech Solutions. Again, there
was Triad and SMARTech. It was Connell who brought those three
companies into one unit, so that the three of them were, in effect,
handling Ohioís election returns on election night under Connellís
supervision. Thatís what we learned.

We also know, Amy, that since the depositionóI want to make this
clear; we said it before, I want to repeat itóthat Connell has
indicated very clearly a desire to talk further, to tell more, whether
itís his conscience bothering him or whether itís fear of some kind of
a perjury charge because of how vigorously he stonewalled at the
deposition. He made it known to the lawyers, he made it known to
reporter Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story, that he wanted to talk. He
was scared. He wanted to talk. And I say that he had pretty good
reason to be scared.

AMY GOODMAN: So why did he fly inówhy did he pilot his own plane
when he was so afraid?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, thatís a good question. We canít ask him,
unfortunately. I mean, this is kind of a grisly thought, but, I mean,
I think we should be asking where the body is? Weíre told that a
trooper on the scene immediately identified Connell. But then we read
elsewhere that there was nothing left but debris and that the fireball
was enormous. So maybe he wasnít on the plane. I mean, who knows, when
youíre dealing with people as deep as these?

But the point isóI canít stress this strongly enoughóweíre dealing not
just with a shocking accident, if thatís what it was, and a convenient
one. Weíre dealing not even just with a particular lawsuit that, you
know, really requires vigorous promotion. The important point here is
that this is all about our elections. Thatís what this is about. This
is about democratic self-government.

The fact that Obama won so handily has caused a lot of us to sit back
and relax. Thereís been a lot of popping of champagne corks and people
drawing the conclusion that the system must work, because our guy won.
Well, this is not a sports event. This is self-government.

In fact, the evidence strongly suggestsóand we havenít had a chance to
talk about this since Election Dayóthat Obama probably won by twice as
many votes as we think. Probably a good seven million votes for Obama
were undone through vote suppression and fraud, because the stuff was
extensive and pervasive, in places where you wouldnít expect it.

The Illinois Ballot Integrity Project was monitoring the vote in
DuPage County, right next door to Obamaís, you know, backyard, Cook
County. And two of them, in only two precincts on Election Day, saw
with their own eyes 350 voters show up, only to be turned away, told,
ìYouíre not registered,î people who were registered, who voted in the
primary. All but one of these people was black. Thatís in Illinois.

People at the Election Defense Alliance have discovered, from sifting
through the numbers, an eleven-point red shift in New Hampshire. That
means that thereís a discrepancy in Obamaís disfavor, primarily
through use of the optical scan machines, an eleven-point discrepancy
in the Republicansí favor, OK?

You start to combine this with all the vote suppression, all the
disenfranchisement, all the vote machine flipping that went on in this
election, you realize, OK, Obama won, but millions of Americans, most
of them African American and students, you know, were not able to
participate in any civic sense, ironically, a lot of the same people,
you know, who would have been disenfranchised and were
disenfranchised before the civil rights movement. So the fact that a
black president was elected, while cause for jubilation, see, ought not
to take place at the expense of a whole lot of our fellow citizens who
seem to have been disenfranchised on racial grounds. My point is very
simply this: Weíve got to get past the victory of Obama and look
seriously at what our election system is like, or else, I promise you,
see, the setup that was put in place in this last election, in 2004 and
in 2000, OK, will still be there in 2010, still be there in 2012. So weíve
got to take steps to do something about it now.

The Emails the White House Doesn’t Want You to See
by Daniel Schulman  /  March 30, 2007

The U.S Attorney firings provide more evidence of the Bush
administration avoiding its own email system (and accountability,
posterity, prosecution)

On February 6, 2003, lobbyist Jack Abramoff sent an email to his
former executive assistant Susan Ralston, who had since gone on to
work for Karl Rove, requesting that she pass along an important
message to her boss. A Louisiana Indian tribe, the Jena band of
Choctaws, was seeking to acquire land for a casino, a project at odds
with the interests of Abramoff’s tribal clients who feared it would
siphon business from their own gaming establishments. Abramoff wanted
Rove to intercede and “to get some quiet message from the WH [White
House] that this is absurd.” After Ralston agreed to pass along word,
Abramoff replied to thank her. But he slipped up.

Instead of responding to an email account administered by the
Republican National Committee (sralston@georgewbush.com) as he had
intended, he sent the message to Ralston’s White House address. The
following day Abramoff was alerted to his error by a colleague, Kevin
Ring, who’d spoken to a White House official to whom Abramoff’s
request had been forwarded. “She said it is better to not put this
stuff in writing in their email system because it might actually limit
what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits,
etc.,” Ring wrote. Abramoff responded swiftly: “Dammit. It was sent to
Susan on her rnc [Republican National Committee] pager and was not
supposed to go into the WH system.”

The significance of this intriguing exchange, which was among
thousands of emails reviewed by investigators for the House Government
Reform Committee as part of an extensive investigation into Abramoff,
might have gone unrecognized had it not been for another scandal, this
one involving the abrupt firings of eight U.S. Attorneys. As the
controversy intensified in early March and hearings were held, the
Department of Justice was forced to release thousands of documents,
including email exchanges between Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff
Kyle Sampson, who resigned in mid-March, and Rove deputy J. Scott

Here too was evidence that White House officials were conducting
business using RNC email accounts, domains such as gwb43.com and
rnchq.org. But why? For one, as Abramoff was attempting to do, it is a
way of bypassing the White House server and skirting its automatic
archiving function, insuring that potentially damaging or
incriminating emails will not be preserved for posterity by the
National Archives, or worse, come to light through the efforts of a
federal prosecutor or congressional investigator. In a March 15 letter
to Henry Waxman’s Government Reform Committee, the watchdog group
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington noted that this
practice might violate the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which
governs how the papers of presidents and their staffs are to be
preserved, and urged an investigation. “This refreshed our memory
about what we’d seen in the Abramoff emails,” says one Waxman aide.

A little over a week later, Waxman’s Committee fired off its own
letters to Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee,
and Marc Racicot, the former chair of the president’s reelection
committee, demanding that they preserve White House emails on their
organization’s servers “because of their potential relevance to
congressional investigations”ó”multiple” investigations the letter
stressed. “The e-mail exchanges reviewed by the Committee provide
evidence that in some instances, White House officials were using the
nongovernmental accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of
the communications.” (According to the Waxman aide, Duncan and Racicot
have yet to respond.)

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Federation of American
Scientists’ project on government secrecy, says the use of RNC email
accounts is interesting for another reason. “It shows how closely
intertwined the White House is with its partisan allies,” he says.
“The fact that the White House and the RNC are working hand in hand
and White House officials are using RNC emails is itself remarkable.”
He added, “Iran-Contra is getting invoked a lot these days and this
may be another parallel, where the famous White House emails were
recovered even after they were deleted from the White House server.
People may have learned that lesson.”

Oliver North certainly did. Back in 1986, when most people had not
even heard of email and the government’s email system was still known
as PROFS (Professional Office System), he and John Poindexter
attempted to purge their hard drives of electronic communications
related to Iran-Contra. (“We all sincerely believed that when we send
a PROFS message to another party and pressed the button ‘delete’ that
it was gone forever. Wow, were we wrong,” North later remarked after
his incriminating messages were resurrected.)

In 1993 then-National Archivist Don Wilson inked a secret agreement
with George H.W. Bush in the final hours of his presidency giving him
sole control over his administration’s computer records. (Wilson went
on to become the executive director of Bush’s presidential library; a
federal court later declared their agreement unconstitutional.) Years
later, with the embattled Clinton administration faced with numerous
allegations of impropriety, including charges that it had illegally
obtained FBI files on prominent Republicans for political purposesó
this controversy became known as Filegateóa White House whistleblower
came forward claiming that the administration had suppressed 100,000
emails related to ongoing investigations. Sheryl Hall, who helped to
supervise the computer system in the Clinton White House, reported
being told by a colleague that “if the contents of these e-mails
became known, that there would be different outcomes to these
scandals, as the e-mails were incriminating and could cause people to
go to jail.” Congressional Republicans, then in the majority, cast the
alleged cover-up as a worse scandal than Watergate, concluding in a
report by the House Government Reform Committee that “the e-mail
matter can fairly be called the most significant obstruction of
congressional investigations in U.S. history.” (Democrats, led by
Henry Waxman, fired back with their own report, which noted, among
other things, that “this Committee has a long history of making
unsubstantiated allegations.”)

In general, past administrations, Democratic and Republican, have
chafed at the prospect of turning over their records, per the
Presidential Records Act, says Bruce Montgomery, the director of the
University of Colorado at Boulder’s archives and an expert on
presidential papers. “No president since Carter, who signed the
Presidential Records Act into law, has looked kindly on that statute.
Carter did not want the Presidential Records Act to apply to him. The
Carter Justice Department saw it as a breach of the separation of
powers.” In 1985, a young lawyer working in the Reagan White House
questioned the constitutionality of the law in a memo to his boss,
White House counsel Fred Fielding, who is currently reprising that
role in the Bush administration. That lawyer, John Glover Roberts Jr.,
who we know as Chief Justice Roberts, noted that the “existence of the
Act serves to burden the full and frank exchange of advice.” That
advice, he argued, “is protected by the constitutionally based
doctrine of executive privilege.” He fretted, however, that it was too
early to mount a constitutional challenge. That would have to wait
until 2001, when, after the 12-year waiting period outlined in the
law, the first batch of Reagan-era documents would be released.

When that moment arrived, scarcely a year into President Bush’s first
term, the president signed a controversial executive order that, among
other things, claims broad authority to review and block the release
of presidential papers and extends executive privilege to the heirs of
the officeholder and to the Vice President. The order was met with
outrage by archivists and historians, some of whom argue that this
statute effectively gives the administration the power to write its
own history. “This is very much pre-Nixon in the sense that they want
presidents and their families to control what people see and what they
cannot see, what history they can write and what history they cannot
write,” says Montgomery, the presidential papers expert. “They want to
manage their own historical legacy.”

John Carlin, the former governor of Kansas who served as the national
archivist from 1995 to 2005, says the administration’s expansion of
executive privilege “was probably the major issue where we as an
agency disagreed with the White House.” Carlin, who was asked to
resign from the National Archives in December 2003 by then-White House
counsel Alberto Gonzales, no explanation given, says his agency was
granted ample opportunity to object to the directive, but, in the end,
“We said our piece and they made their decision.”

The president’s executive order has long been the subject of bi-
partisan concern in Congress and, in March, legislation passed the
House that would essentially revoke it. But even before the measure
could come to a vote, the White House issued a veto threat, writing in
a Statement of Administration Policy that “executive privilege is not
subject to Congressional regulation, but rather arises directly from
the Constitution itself.”

In this context, the news that at least some White House officials are
using alternate email accounts to avoid creating an official record of
their communications seems to fit a broader pattern. But in many ways,
says Steven Hensen, the past president of the Society of American
Archivists and the technical director of Duke University’s archives,
this practice seems “a bit more devious.” “It clearly looks like an
attempt to conceal official business,” he says.

Asked about the use of RNC email accounts during a press briefing on
March 27, White House spokesperson Dana Perino played down this
unusual practice. “What I knowóI checked into thisóis that certain
White House officials and staff members who have responsibilities that
straddle both worlds, that have responsibilities in communication,
regularly interface with political organizations, do have a separate
email account for those political communications. That is entirely
appropriate, especially when you think of it in this case, that the
practice is in place and followed precisely to avoid any inadvertent
violations of what is called the Hatch ActÖ. Under an abundance of
caution so that they don’t violate the Hatch Act, they have these
separate emails.” She added that “people are encouraged, on official
White House business, to use their official White House accounts.”

The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in political
activity while on the job. But, according to two lawyers I spoke with,
both of them well versed in the details of that law, this rationale
doesn’t entirely hold water. A lawyer who works for the Office of
Special Counsel, the agency charged with investigating Hatch Act
violations, told me that Senate-confirmed presidential appointees as
well as staffers whose salaries are paid from an appropriation for the
Executive Office of the President are exempt from some of the
strictures of that law and are allowed to engage in political
activity. (No federal employee, however, is allowed to fundraise on
the job, or solicit or discourage the political activity of people
with business before their agencies.) And even if they weren’t exempt,
simply using a non-government email account wouldn’t make any
difference, the lawyer explained. “Using my personal account or some
other email account that’s not a federal email account would not
remove me from the prohibition if I’m still either on duty or in a
federal building.”

Perino’s explanation doesn’t hold up on another level as well. Since
the administration has been so insistent that the eight fired U.S.
attorneys were let go for performance rather than political reasons,
how to explain why Rove aide J. Scott Jennings was using his
“political” email account to push for Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide,
to take over Bud Cummins’ job as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern
District of Arkansas? “The statements from the White House so far have
been rather confusing,” says the Waxman aide. “Very odd.”

While some White House officials may legitimately be using RNC-issued
laptops and BlackBerrys to conduct party business, it’s clear that
others are taking pains to use alternate email accounts simply to keep
their communications from becoming public record. In 2004, U.S. News &
World Report noted, in a three-sentence item, that many White House
aides had begun using Web-based email in order to avoid the White
House system. “I don’t want my E-mail made public,” one White House
“insider” told the magazine. “It’s Yahoo!, baby,” another said.

In the Clinton White House, according to an official staff manual
circa 1997, there was a strict prohibition against using anything but
the official system. In addition, a 2000 directive to White House
staff states that “the system designated for EOP [Executive Office of
the President] mailÖ is to be used exclusively for E-mail
communications within the EOP Complex and with outside parties. Other
applications (e.g., commercial E-mail services) may not be used to
send or receive E-mail.”

Whether or not the use of non-governmental email accounts ultimately
breaches the Presidential Records Act, it virtually assures an
incomplete historical record of the Bush presidency. “The only way
accurate history can be written is if the full records are available
to evaluate,” says John Carlin, the former national archivist, who did
not want to weigh in directly on the current controversy. “Records
undergird a democracy.”

But the email controversy may be of significance not only to
historians who will pour over the Bush papers in years to come, but to
others who are working to provide present-day accountability. Indeed,
among other people, these revelations could be of particular interest
to a certain federal prosecutor who recently won the conviction of the
Vice President’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, on charges of
obstructing an investigation into the leak of Valerie Wilson’s
identity. Contained in the lengthy docket of U.S.A. v. Libby is a
January 23, 2006 letter from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to
Libby’s defense team, who were then jousting over classified
discovery. In it, Fitzgerald advises Libby’s attorneys, “in an
abundance of caution,” that “we have learned that not all email of the
Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for
certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal
archiving process on the White House computer system.” Though the
prosecution later received an additional 250 pages of records from the
vice president’s office, it remains unclear what the true nature of
this archiving problem was or whether Fitzgerald received all of the
documents that may have been relevant to his investigation.
(Fitzgerald’s office declined to comment after being provided with a
detailed request.) Perhaps Fitzgerald, along with other investigators
who have sought White House records, was looking in the wrong place.
He may want to check the RNC’s servers.

Bush Emails May Be Secret A Bit Longer
by R. Jeffrey Smith  /  21 Dec 2008

“The required transfer in four weeks of all of the Bush White House’s
electronic mail messages and documents to the National Archives has
been imperiled by a combination of technical glitches, lawsuits and
lagging computer forensic work, according to government officials,
historians and lawyers.

Federal law requires outgoing White House officials to provide the
Archives copies of their records, a cache estimated at more than 300
million messages and 25,000 boxes of documents depicting some of the
most sensitive policymaking of the past eight years.

But archivists are uncertain whether the transfer will include all the
electronic messages sent and received by the officials, because the
administration began trying only in recent months to recover from
White House backup tapes hundreds of thousands of e-mails that were
reported missing from readily accessible files in 2005.

The risks that the transfer may be incomplete are also pointed up by a
continuing legal battle between a coalition of historians and
nonprofit groups over access to Vice President Cheney’s records. The
coalition is contesting the administration’s assertion in federal
court this month that he “alone may determine what constitutes vice
presidential records or personal records” and “how his records will be
created, maintained, managed, and disposed,” without outside challenge
or judicial review.

Eventual access to the documentary record of the Bush presidency has
been eagerly anticipated by historians and journalists because the
president and his aides generally have sought to shield from public
disclosure many details of their deliberations and interactions with
outside groups.

“We are worried,” said Arnita A. Jones, executive director of the
American Historical Association, which sued the White House several
years ago seeking wider access to presidential records than President
Bush had said in a 2001 executive order that he wanted the government
to provide. “There is a context that is not reassuring,” she said.

The National Archives and Records Administration is supposed to help
monitor the completeness of the historical record but has no
enforcement powers over White House records management practices.
Speaking of the missing e-mails, Archives’ general counsel Gary M.
Stern said in an interview last week that “we hope and expect they all
will exist on the system or be recoverable,” even in coming weeks. “We
can’t say for sure.”

White House spokesman Scott M. Stanzel said last week that “we are
making significant progress in accounting for the e-mail records
stored on our computer network.” But he declined to say how many e-
mails remain missing or to predict how long the recovery will take
because the issue is the subject of ongoing litigation.

The National Security Archive, a historical research group, and
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, a nonprofit
watchdog organization, filed lawsuits in September 2007 to compel the
White House to preserve backup e-mail tapes. In November 2007, U.S.
District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ordered White House officials to
preserve such tapes and “not transfer said media out of their custody
or control without leave of this court.”

In the case of the vice president’s records, the White House has
promised a different federal judge that it will comply with a Nixon-
era law requiring the preservation and transfer of all documents
related to the vice president’s official duties, but the coalition has
drafted a filing for the court on Monday that accuses Cheney of subtly
seeking to circumscribe the legal definition of what those official
duties encompass to such a degree that he will be able to take home or
destroy countless documents related to policymaking that historians
want to see.

Anne Weisman, the counsel for the plaintiffs, called Cheney’s
assertion that only those records related to tasks specially assigned
by Bush need to be preserved “a loophole . . . large enough to drive
truckloads of documents through.” It means, she said, that Cheney
would not have to surrender documents related to legislation or
“advice he gives the president on his own initiative and the influence
he has over the president’s decisions.”

The scramble to find missing e-mails and copy them in a digital form
that the Archives can comprehend amounts to a replay of the confusion
that capped the transfer of President Bill Clinton’s records at the
end of his administration in 2001. Then, a series of defects in the
White House e-mail archiving system led to congressional subpoenas and
the administration’s expenditure of $12 million to recover hundreds of
missing e-mails from backup tapes. The effort was not completed until
after Clinton left office.

Stanzel said the White House is also still “working to acquire” e-
mails involving official government business that were transmitted by
presidential aides through accounts operated by the Republican
National Committee, a problem also first publicized almost three years
ago. “We continue to be in communication with RNC officials about
recovering official records,” he said without offering details. Such
records are subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires
their transfer to the Archives at noon on Jan. 20.

Thomas S. Blanton, the National Security Archive director, said
controversy surrounding the last-minute handling of e-mails by
retiring presidents — including intervention by the courts — is
hardly exceptional.

Blanton wrote in a 1995 book that Ronald Reagan tried to order the
erasure of all electronic backup tapes during his final week in
office; the current president’s father struck a secret deal with the
U.S. archivist shortly before midnight on his final day in office to
seal White House e-mails and take them with him to Texas; and Clinton
asserted in 1994 that the National Security Council was not an agency
of the government so he could keep its e-mails beyond public reach.

Blanton said last week that “the situation is exponentially worse”
under the current administration because the volume of electronic
records at stake from Bush’s tenure is higher than in previous
administrations. If some of the records are manipulated, even for a
short while, he said, “the problem and the cost to the taxpayers is
going to be exponentially worse, [as well as] the delay and the lag
time before journalists and historians are going to be able to see

The transfer of some White House records officially got under way a
few weeks ago with the first air shipments of documents to a leased
warehouse north of Dallas, near the projected site of the Bush
library, and the transport by truck of some digital records to a
remote Navy research center in the mountains of West Virginia. The
bullhorn used by Bush at the World Trade Center site in New York is
among the objects set to go to Texas.

At the Navy base, all the electronic data are supposed to be
“ingested” by a new electronic system meant to allow such efficient
cataloguing, indexing and searching that millions of documents can
eventually be provided to researchers and citizens online.

The system has been under development for a decade by Lockheed

Martin and other contractors at a cost of $67.5 million, will rely on
software created after the collapse of Enron, when that company’s
creditors demanded new tools for quickly sorting its e-mail trove to
find damaging information.

But there are obstacles to gaining such ready access to files created
by Bush and his appointees. Technical troubles, cost overruns and
inadequate funding caused the system to be sharply scaled back at the
outset, according to Archives officials and the Government
Accountability Office. The result is that it will take years of work
— and an additional $70 million — to put in place the features that
the Archives initially sought.

“The ingestion of Bush data has just begun,” said Archives spokeswoman
Susan Cooper, adding that she is unsure how smoothly it has gone.

The Archives hopes to finish much of its work on the new archival
system by 2013, when by law the Bush White House records can begin to
be accessed under the Freedom of Information Act.

But Archivist Allen Weinstein and other officials say they may still
face a serious shortage of trained staff: Out of the Archives’ 3,000
employees at 40 facilities, only a few are assigned to process
requests by historians, citizens and others — 10 at the Reagan
library, eight at the first Bush library and 10 at the Clinton

The result has been a steady growth in delays for processing data
requests, from a wait of a year and a half in 2001 at the Reagan
library to a current wait of six and a half years. The new Bush
library is slated to have 18 archivists. “I tried — half-whimsically
— to ban the word ‘backlog’ in favor of discussing NARA’s ‘surplus’
of documents, which sounds better but which remains today an
intractable problem,” Weinstein said in a recent speech.

CyberScene: Spinning the Web  /  11.1.1999

No matter what your position on the candidates or their platforms, the
2000 election cycle promises to be anything but politics as usual. Yet
if the true promise of the Internet as a political tool is to be realized,
Cleveland-based New Media Communications may have a key role
in shaping its new digital face, a face that may resemble Minnesota
Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Scary thought? Listen to New Media’s Mike Connell, the digital
politics guru who designed award-winning campaign sites for Florida
Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, as well as sites for the Ohio
Republican Party and the National Republican Committee, and you may
think differently. As Connell tells it, friend and colleague Phil
Noble, president of Politics Online, which provides Internet tools for
politics, predicted early and often in the election cycle that the
Internet would decide at least one race on election night 1998. A New
York Times reporter bet Noble a steak dinner that it wouldnt happen.

Phil calls me up on election day, says Connell, who at the time was in
Miami preparing a live Webcast from Jeb Bush’s victory reception that
night. He’s in a panic: “Mike, Mike, I cant lose this bet, we gotta
find somebody. As youre watching the numbers tonight look for
something.” Enter Jesse The Body Ventura, whose upset victory for
Minnesota governor body-slammed political prognosticators. The next
day [Noble] comes up with Jesse Ventura, says Connell. Shortly after
the election, the campaign’s Webmaster, Phil Madsen, boasted that the
race could not have been won without the mobilizing force of email to
rally supporters.

Instantly there was debate in online campaign circles whether this was
just something cooked up so that Phil didn’t have to buy the steak
dinner or whether it was for real, says Connell. Legitimate or not,
the subsequent media swirl underscored the emergence of the Internet
as a political tool with a power potential that could be unleashed
during the 2000 cycle.

Still, the ’98 numbers were encouraging but uninspiring. A telephone
study the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted
the week before and week after the ’98 elections found that 6 percent
of voters cited the Internet as a primary source of election
information, doubling the results of a 1996 study. The single-digit
results [pale] when compared to the number of people who named
television (78 percent) and newspapers (60 percent) as a primary
source of election information.

Yet some of that may be due to the quality of the Web content. At the
end of 1998, more than 80 percent of the statewide races had Web
sites, says Connell, but that’s a misleading figure. Cobbled together
by volunteers, many of the sites were mere brochureware with a
candidate’s bio, maybe some position papers and a few pictures. A
survey by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
University found that of 554 campaign sites, which included all
Senate, House and governor candidate sites, few fully exploited the
medium. Only half the sites asked visitors for donations, 44 percent
did not solicit volunteers and 89 percent gave no information on voter

Such was not the case for New Media’s Jeb Bush campaign site, though
Connell cringes slightly when reflecting on a site that was cutting-
edge when launched in October 1997 but whose Internet time has passed.
The Bush site was the first real statewide site that truly tied
together the technology of the Internet and the mechanics of getting
elected, says Connell. The Bush Web site engaged visitors, providing
them with the ability to volunteer (about 1,000 did), make donations
(reportedly enough to pay the $25,000 tab for the sites creation),
email Bush or write a letter to the editor. What made the Internet so
powerful was its advantages over traditional media, says Connell. It’s
highly interactive, it’s rapid-response and it’s probably the most
cost-effective way to talk directly to the public.

Much of what came before the Bush site, he contends, was designed by
people who had not been through a political campaign. (Connell,
coincidentally, cut his teeth in the 1988 George Bush-for-president
campaign.) Because of the campaign experience of myself and others
involved, we knew what the difference between a bell and whistle was
and what a true political tool was. Much of what weve seen in online
political campaigning is just a new way of doing an old thing, says
John C. Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied
Politics at the University of Akron. There is real potential for some
day doing democracy online, says Green, though there is a way to go
before that happens. To use the Internet, people have to go there; but
with todays apathetic voter, how do you get them to do that?

Thats where Connell says the Jesse Experience, as he terms it, is
critical. It wasn’t what Jesse Ventura did on the Web, Connell
contends. It was what he did in terms of email, and thats one of the
important things we learned for 2000. With only one full-time paid
staffer (most campaigns of that scope have eight to 20), the Ventura
campaign used email as a behind-the-scenes tool to coordinate
volunteers. In fact, the campaign’s finale, a 72-hour bus tour, was
coordinated entirely via email and the Web site. Then, during the
tour, email updates spread the word on where to be and how to rally
the crowds for support.

But if youre watching the Web or at least the public Web sites for all
the cool new stuff, you’re going to be missing 80 percent of the
picture, says Connell, because really, in 2000 the true innovation is
going to take place on extranets, intranets, secured email. It’s all
going to be that beneath-radar effort. Expect to see secured Web sites
where only key personnel can access messages on strategy or view the
opposition’s ads so they can respond, and emails directing grassroots
volunteers on what to do to get candidate X elected.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Bush initially relied on volunteers for his
Internet efforts, then hired a system administrator to oversee the Web
site. After some initial missteps (a Federal Election Commission
filing about a [Yes Men] parody site that subsequently drove people to
the rogue site among them), Bush’s decision to post monthly campaign
funding information on his site could revolutionize campaign
financing, says Green. George W. Bush putting all of his financial
data online may solve the problem of finance disclosure, he says. If
that became a trend, that could be very, very helpful. It may even be
required by law.

With his strong ties to the GOP and especially the Bush family, how
soon can it be until New Medias Connell weighs in on George W.’s
campaign? Connell’s response is measured almost as though sputtering
through a slow-speed modem: I’ll tell you what I can tell you, he
says, in the manner of a politician. We’ve been asked by three or four
different presidential campaigns to do their Web sites, and what we
said to them all was: ”I wouldn’t be where I am today without the
Bush campaign and the Bush family because the Bushes truly are about
family and I’m loyal to my network, I’m loyal to my friends and I’m
loyal to the Bush family, so there is only one place I can be in
2000.” Connell refuses to comment on what role that might be, though.

In the meantime, New Media is working like it’s the closing days of a
campaign. It launched a new site for the Republican National Committee
and is developing a new site for the Ohio Republican Party. And New
Media’s Campaign Webmaster software designed with Republican
candidates and tight-budgeted campaigns in mind allows campaigns to
create a customized site with news releases, ad scripts, position
papers and the ability to enlist volunteers and take donations.

Connell freely offers his campaign promise for the 2000 election:
“There are things we will be doing on election day that havent even
been dreamt of yet.”

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