Dramatic new charges deepen link between Ohio 's 'Coingate,' Voinovich mob connections, and the theft of the 2004 election
Date: Friday, July 29 @ 09:04:44 EDT
By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Columbus Free Press
COLUMBUS -- New charges filed against Ohio Governor Bob Taft's former top aide have blazed a new trail between "Coingate" and the GOP theft of the 2004 presidential election
In April, the Toledo Blade reported that Noe was under federal investigation for making illegal donations to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. By all accounts, Coingate is still in the early stages of unraveling, and where it reaches, no one yet knows. But most serious observers of Ohio politics believe it will go very high.
The outing of how Noe and his wife may have used their clout to steal votes in Lucas County 's "Votegate" has also just begun.
Election day in Ohio 2004 was defined by partisan chaos, confusion and theft everywhere in the state. But the Noe's Toledo was uniquely rife with corruption and illegality.
Well before election day, Lucas County 's Democratic headquarters was broken into. Key voter data went missing.
On November 2, inner city voting machines mysteriously broke down en masse. Polls opened late. The Toledo Blade has reported that the sole machine at the Birmingham polling site in east Toledo broke down around 7 a.m. By order of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, no paper ballots were available for backup.
At one school polling station the voting machines were locked in the office of the principal, who called in sick. The Gesu School in West Toledo temporarily ran out of ballots. There were huge lines, missing ballots and technical anomalies associated with the leased Diebold Optical-Scan voting tabulators. Lucas County BOE Director Paula Hicks-Hudson admitted that the Diebold machines had jammed during the previous week's testing, but the BOE did not bother to fix them for the election.
Sworn statements at public hearings in Toledo and Columbus confirmed that scores of citizens were disenfranchised because they had to go to work. According to the Toledo Blade, at the Birmingham polling site in east Toledo , the sole machine broke down around 7am. When Ohio Rep. Peter Ujvagi tried to cast his ballot an hour later, a poll worker told him to place his ballot in "a secure slot under the machine" so it could be scanned in later, after Ujvagi had left.
When voting rights activists challenged Republican Secretary of State Blackwell's controversial partisan handling of provisional ballots, Tom Noe sued on Blackwell's behalf. Bernadette Noe worked hard to reverse the traditional Ohio practice of allowing provisional ballots to be cast in precincts other than the one in which voters were registered. Her efforts helped disenfranchise innumerable Toledo voters, most of them inner city Democrats..
Ms. Noe also reversed standard procedure and banned public testimony at an open meeting meant to discuss a Republican Party challenge to 35,000 newly registered Ohio voters. The challenge was blocked by a federal judge.
But the election in Lucas County had become so infamous that on April 8, Blackwell fired the entire County Board of Elections. Bernadette Noe had announced her plans to resign in December, 2004. But Blackwell's desperate move was a slap in her face, especially since the Secretary of State himself is at center stage in deepening disputes over how Ohio 's 2004 election might have been stolen. Blackwell served as Ohio 's Bush-Cheney co-chair while running what he claimed to be a fair election.
Blackwell's investigation of the Lucas County BOE has been received with shock and awe around the state.
It cites no less than thirteen areas of "grave concern" including "failure to maintain ballot security"; "inability to implement and maintain a trackable system for voter ballot reconciliation": "failure to prepare and develop a plan for the processing of the voluminous amount of voter registration forms received"; "issuance and acceptance of incorrect absentee ballot forms"; and "failure to maintain the security of poll books during the official canvas."
Richard Weghorst, Ohio's Director of Campaign Finance, and Faith Lyon, the Secretary of State's liaison to county board of elections, found among other things that optical scan ballots received from a private printing company were left unattended and unsecured in a warehouse for nearly a month prior to the presidential election.
Ms. Noe was quoted in the Toledo Blade, saying, "It is important for everyone to remember that we had a good, fair, and accurate election in November, despite the fact that we were at the epicenter of the national election."
But election protection activists are swarming into Lucas County and have added to Blackwell's list a stunning litany of irregularities, all pointing in the direction of massive vote fraud for the benefit of George W. Bush, engineered at least in part by his friends Tom and Bernadette Noe.
Tom Noe has been reportedly liquidating his properties to pay back the state. But his financial sinkhole has already thoroughly tainted a deeply unpopular Taft regime.
The still-young Coingate and Votegate scandals have already catapulted the Bush/Rove Pioneer/Ranger Noe family close to the realm of headlines currently reserved for Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.
But Ohio insiders predict much more to come.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-editors of DID GEORGE W. BUSH STEAL AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION?, published by http://www.freepress.org/, where THE FITRAKIS FILES are also available. HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is at http://www.harveywasserman.com/.
© 2005 The Columbus Free Press
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