Election Criminal Blackwell: Hypocrisy and the arrogance of power

J. Kenneth Blackwell is at it again. Ohio’s infamous Secretary of State and master of media distortion and hype, earning him the name “Inkwell” among the statehouse press corps, has announced his partisan agenda for governor of the Buckeye State. Blackwell, Ohio’s first statewide African American office holder, has rapidly moved to stake out the far right of the Ohio Republican Party as his political base. The Secretary of State has found himself consistently at odds with mainstream conservatives in the state’s GOP. Last week, the Franklin County Board of Elections, under the control of Republican Executive Director Matt Damschroder, obtained a temporary restraining order against Blackwell. In another of his notorious imperial decrees, the Secretary of State ordered all 88 county boards to buy optical-scan voting systems from two well-known Republican-linked companies, Diebold and ES&S. Republican Attorney General Jim Petro issued an opinion stating that Blackwell does not have the authority to limit a county’s choice as to specific types of voting systems. Hart InterCivic, Inc. filed suit against Blackwell seeking reimbursement for millions of dollars they had spent trying to market their voting system in Ohio, based on the assumption that there would be competitive bidding. Once again, Blackwell went to court to make sure he would not have to testify under oath, and once again, he succeeded. In December 2004, Blackwell refused to appear for a deposition scheduled in the Moss v. Bush election challenge case looking into the massive voting irregularities on Election Day. The Associated Press (AP) reported on December 27 that Blackwell “…requested a protective order to prevent him from being interviewed as part of an unusual court challenge of the presidential vote.” Blackwell accused the lawyers seeking to put him under oath of “frivolous conduct” and the Secretary of State is seeking to punish them with sanctions through the Attorney General’s office. Republican State Representative Jim Trakas announced on Monday, February 21 his bid to replace Blackwell as Secretary of State. In a backhanded indictment of Blackwell, Trakas, who is a seamless right-to-life Republican opposing both abortion rights and the death penalty, said that people “seem to be lacking . . . confidence in the election process.” “I don’t blame that on Secretary Ken Blackwell, but the environment for the last election really hurt that [confidence], and I want to restore it,” Trakas said.