Craig Unger explains how in 2004 former Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell employed SMARTech (owned by Averbeck) together with Michael Connell (New Media Communications and GovTech). Unger said that Michael Connell used SMARTech’s Chattanooga Tennessee computers to host Connell’s websites, many of which were created for the Republican party and related organizations.
Republican-Connected IT company, SMARTech, to be Used in the 2012 Ohio Presidential Election
In 20012 the current Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to once again use SMARTech for the 2012 Ohio Presidential Election. It would be interesting to know how SOS Husted plans to utilize SMARTech and if he will admit knowledge of the use of SMARTech. Will the computer IT architecture be similar to the one created in 2004 where Stephen Spoonamore claimed the architecture was a classic Man-In-The Middle attack format for the ability to manipulate vote totals.
Craig Unger on New Book, “Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power.” 1 of 2
Craig Unger on New Book, “Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power.” 2 of 2
Boss Rove, the 2004 Ohio Election and IT firm SMARTech
Democracy Now! Amy Goodman asked Craig Unger about what happened in the Ohio 2004 election and Karl Rove’s connection with that election. Here is a portion of the transcript:
AMY GOODMAN: So now let’s go back to Ohio, in fact, Ohio and SMARTech. This is the one chance you ever had to question Karl Rove about that.
CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And I met Karl Rove in Alabama, and I asked him. And he said, “SMARTech? What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.”
Well, SMARTech is a high-tech company in Chattanooga. And what you see with Rove’s methodology is he manages to have things happen in his benefit, and there are no fingerprints. But I traced the ownership of SMARTech and its precursors, and the original company was funded by two—its precursor, rather, was funded by two Republicans named Bill DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds. Mercer Reynolds was finance chairman of the Republican Party. In ’04, he raised about a quarter of a billion dollars for the Bush-Cheney campaign. And in the ’80s, they had bailed out George W. Bush in his oil ventures, DeWitt and Reynolds had. So they were very, very close to him.
And this company started off as a very legitimate high-tech company in Chattanooga during the dot-com boom. It later reformed under a different name and different ownership, but by then it had become very much a political operation. So, this was a highly, highly partisan Republican high-tech company. It hosted—its biggest clients included the Bush-Cheney campaign, it included Jeb Bush, it included the Republican National Committee. It streamed live the convention, the Republican convention.
And somehow or other, in 2004, in the state of Ohio, which was the single most crucial state in the Electoral College, when it came to the actual voting, the secretary of state of Ohio, a guy named Ken Blackwell—and the secretary of state’s job is to—part of it is to ensure fair, nonpartisan elections—happened to be co-chair of the Bush campaign. Now, there’s no conflict there. And he gave a contract to host the fail oversight for the Republican—rather, for the votes in 2004, to none other than SMARTech. And this is where things went a little crazy.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But how was that allowed to happen even? I mean—
CRAIG UNGER: Well, I mean, I think it is a huge conflict of interest on the face of it for the secretary of state of a party to be affiliated with one campaign or the other. And we saw it, of course, in Florida in 2000 with Katherine Harris.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, 2004, election night, tell us the story.
CRAIG UNGER: Right, Well, about at 11:14 p.m., things started to happen, exactly 11:14 p.m. And as the votes came in, it was clear it was going to be an all-nighter in terms of the results. And around 11:00, Florida was called for Bush, and that meant the entire fate of the election hinged on Ohio. So, suddenly—excuse me—the servers for the secretary of state’s computers were flooded with queries.
AMY GOODMAN: Ohio secretary of state.
CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And they needed to lock into the fail oversight in Chattanooga with SMARTech. And this is where the results went a little crazy. And suddenly, an enormous number of irregular returns came in, and the votes shifted. The exit polls had shown Kerry winning Ohio, and therefore the election. And it looked like he had won the presidential election. I remember that day vividly because I was getting reports from the exit polls, and I went around telling people it looked like Kerry had won. But there was a 6.7 percent difference between the exit polls and the actual results. And as a result, the election ended up going to Bush. And that was the entire story.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In writing about what happened in Ohio as well as in Alabama, one of the things that you say about Rove is that a case can be made that for the last three decades he’s been putting a systematic attempt to game the American electoral system by whatever means necessary. What kind of vision does Karl Rove have for the Republican Party and for American politics?
CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, I don’t think he’s an ideologue. I think he’s about winning. And he’s often been compared to a guy named Mark Hanna, who more than a century ago was the political mind behind President William McKinley. He was a senator from Ohio, but he was also a political operative who put McKinley in the White House and forged a realignment. There’s always been this talk of a permanent Republican majority that Rove is trying to forge, and he sees it, the nation, as being entirely Republican. And, in fact, I think that’s Rove’s line, and I don’t buy it.
Ken Blackwell at August 2012 Republican Convention Denies any Knowledge of SMARTech in Interview with Democracy Now
Ken Blackwell claims he didn’t know anything about SMARTech which his office employed in a contract in 2004 for the 2004 Presidential Election even though court documents in a lawsuit show a signed contract between SMARTech and the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
Partial Transcript from Interview with Ken Blackwell by Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke:
MIKE BURKE: One more question, sir. Last week on our program, we interviewed the journalist Craig Unger, who has a new book about Karl Rove. He dedicates a lot of time in the book to the 2004 election in Ohio.
KEN BLACKWELL: That’s good.
MIKE BURKE: And he raised serious questions about—
KEN BLACKWELL: What kind of questions did he raise?
MIKE BURKE: Well, he had questions about the accuracy of the vote. And he—
KEN BLACKWELL: Look, let me tell you something about—no, no, let me tell you something about 2004. I hear a lot of urban myths about 2004 about voter suppression and long voter lines. And the case study that they use is Franklin County. Franklin County is where Columbus is located, and there were long lines. But there were long lines due to tremendous efforts by both sides to get out the vote and a decision that was made that students at Ohio State University would vote in Columbus as opposed to their home precincts.
But what I think is incumbent upon you to get across to your folks, who view you, is this: that in Ohio, voting machine location is determined by 88 county boards of elections. Each one of those boards of elections have two members—two Democrats and two Republicans. In 2004, the head of the Franklin County Board of Elections was a guy by the named Bill Anthony. He was a labor leader. He was vice chairman of the Franklin County party, Democratic Party. He was a co-chairman of the Kerry campaign, and he was African American. I don’t think that he would have allowed voting machines to deliberately not be placed in African-American communities.
MIKE BURKE: Sir, but is—
KEN BLACKWELL: But it is—no, excuse me, sir—but it is this notion that the secretary of state made a determination, therefore getting long lines that frustrated African-American voters, that was not the case. I haven’t read the book, so I won’t comment on it.
MIKE BURKE: But I’m not asking about the book, in particular, sir.
KEN BLACKWELL: I won’t comment.
MIKE BURKE: But, sir—
KEN BLACKWELL: I won’t comment.
MIKE BURKE: But, sir, he asked about a company called SMARTech.
KEN BLACKWELL: I don’t know anything about SMARTech.
MIKE BURKE: Well—
KEN BLACKWELL: So, that’s—that’s—
MIKE BURKE: My understanding is that Ohio actually had a contract with this company.
KEN BLACKWELL: You know what? Let me tell you something.
MIKE BURKE: Yes.
KEN BLACKWELL: I, in fact, gave you my time.
MIKE BURKE: Right, and—
KEN BLACKWELL: And—excuse me. I gave you my time. In Ohio in 2004, we had a record turnout of African-American voters.
MIKE BURKE: But that’s not my question.
KEN BLACKWELL: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.
MIKE BURKE: My question, sir, was about SMARTech.
KEN BLACKWELL: My answer—my answer is this—
MIKE BURKE: Right, but you’re not answering my question.
KEN BLACKWELL: No, my answer is this: Ohio, examined by Ohio newspapers and election authorities, had a good election, a clean election—not a perfect election, but a good and fair election—
MIKE BURKE: But the question—
KEN BLACKWELL: —in 2004.
MIKE BURKE: But the question raised in this book, sir—
KEN BLACKWELL: That is my answer. Over and out.
MIKE BURKE: Sir—
Do you think Karl Rove and Ken Blackwell need to take lie detector tests? How can they possibly deny knowledge of SMARTech with a straight face? Will Ohio election integrity folks check into the status of the use of SMARTech in the 2004 and 2012 elections? Perhaps for the integrity of the vote totals in Ohio it would seem like a pretty good idea. Meaow!