Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Four

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

THE WELL DRESSED MAN PART FOUR: BALLOT SECURITY / GARDEN STATE / SUNSHINE STATE

Just as Roger Stone makes as little mention as possible of BMS&K, he says relatively little about his first election, that of Tom Kean to the governorship of New Jersey in 1980. This race isn’t even given mention in Labash’s piece, and it only gets a one-sentence nod in Toobin’s: “In 1981, Stone ran his first major campaign on his own, Tom Kean’s race for governor of New Jersey against the Democrat Jim Florio. Kean won in a recount.” In his memoir, Stone gives much space to the election, but his emphasis is on his attempts to get newly elected president Reagan to campaign for Kean, James Baker giving the go-ahead, and Stone working for Bush in Florida as a way of returning the long ago favor. The description of the actual election, which bluntly ignores the surrounding issues that Stone was very familiar with, is one that’s far too short: “Tom Kean was elected Governor by 1200 votes out of 2.2 million cast. Ronald Reagan helped put him over the top.”66 All accounts underserve the Kean-Florio race, which may well have been one of the most important elections of the past thirty years or so, and certainly continued to have an obvious impact on elections thirty years on.

The race would be between James Florio, a Democrat, versus Thomas Kean, a Republican, for governor of New Jersey. The best roadmap I’ve come across on what happened on election day is Republican Ballot Security Programs: Vote Protection or Minority Vote Suppression – or Both? A Report to the Center for Voting Rights & Protection by Chandler Davidson, Tanya Dunlap, Gale Kenny, and Benjamin Wise, specifically the section “CASE 1: The New Jersey Gubernatorial Election and the “National Ballot Security Task Force,” 1981 (page 55)”. The RNC would hire a man named John Kelly to enforce “ballot security”, a program to fight against voter fraud, and Kelly first did so by way of a process now known as voter caging. He mailed off hundreds of thousands of sample ballots to voters in black and latino neighborhoods, then compiled a list of those people whose ballots were returned as undeliverable, then allegedly tried to have them struck from the polls. An outdated address list was used, which meant that names were struck from rolls for the simple reason that people had moved from that address. The struck names were compiled into “challenge lists”, which could be used to challenge the right of someone on the list to cast a vote. The New Jersey Commissioners of Registration refused to accept the lists when they discovered that the address list used was outdated. The RNC insisted that they would continue to enforce a program of ballot security, without the lists67.

Kelly put together a group poll watchers, mainly off-duty police officers, who would be tasked with enforcing ballot security. They patrolled black and latino voting precincts, and they erected signs in those precincts which said the following:

WARNING
THIS AREA IS BEING PATROLLED BY THE
NATIONAL BALLOT
SECURITY TASK FORCE
IT IS A CRIME TO FALSIFY A BALLOT OR TO
VIOLATE ELECTION LAWS
1. IF YOU ARE REGISTERED YOU CANNOT VOTE
2. YOU MUST VOTE IN YOUR OWN NAME.
3. YOU MAY ONLY VOTE ONE TIME
$1,000 Reward for information
leading to arrest and conviction
of person violating New Jersey
election law. Call 800-402-4301.
HONEST VOTE 1981

(Kean election)

The ballot security who were off-duty police officers carried guns and radios. All ballot security officers had armbands which read “National Ballot Security Task Force.” Those who called the 1-800 number on the ballot security signs to find out who had funded the signs and the ballot security were told that “we don’t divulge our clients. We are an organization that works for an honest vote on Election Day.” A judge would eventually order the signs to be taken down at 4pm on voting day for being inherently political. A democratic councilman would report that the voter security task force was “like the Gestapo,” that would demand to see the voter registration books. The task force allegedly questioned voters, refused to allow some voters near the polls, tore down signs advertising democratic candidates, and prevented poll workers from assisting voters. The president of the NAACP in Trenton would say “I saw Gestapo armbands in my polling place, and I won’t tolerate seeing them here in the future.”68

By election night, two networks were calling Democrat Jim Florio the next state governor. Republican Tom Kean was ready to concede, until his campaign manager found that the vote had shifted, with Kean now leading Florio by 1677 votes, less than 1% of the votes cast. Neither man would concede, and then for twenty seven days the ballots were checked and recounted. When Essex County indicated that they were revising their figures, Tom Kean’s political consultant, Roger Stone, would say, “They’re stealing it – we’re just not going to stand for it, just to ‘find’ a precinct like that.” When told that the adjustment favored his client, Stone would say, “We just took a vote here and we think that’s O.K.'” Following the ballot security controversy, John Kelly would disappear from sight. Doubts would surface about his résumé; he’d said he’d gone to Fordham Law school and Notre Dame, and it became very uncertain whether he actually had. It would soon be discovered that he’d been arrested for impersonating a police officer, and that he’d lost a job after twice threatening people with a gun.69.

Four “street leaders” were alleged to have been in charge of ballot security, including Anthony Imperiale, the representative of Newark. When the allegations about ballot security were first made, Imperiale would call them “a prefabricated lie.” Furthermore, “I didn’t drop anyone off wearing armbands. If the Democrats are making charges that I knew about this, then tough crap on them. It’s the Democrats who have a reputation of stealing votes.”70 A day later, he would acknowledge that he was in charge of a ballot security program in Newark. However: who cares? “Who did it intimidate?” asked Imperiale. “No one but fraudulent voters in my opinion. This is sour grapes from Democrats. They don’t know how to take defeat.” With regard to his earlier denial, “I never denied it. It must have been a mistake.” When Imperiale was named in 1984 as a delegate for New Jersey for the Republican convention, mention would be made that he had once referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as “Martin Luther Coon” and once preached armed white self-defense after the 1967 Newark riots71. The closest Roger Stone gets to talking about the ballot security scandal in his memoir is in his mention of Imperiale in the book’s introduction: “I saw Newark vigilante Tony Imperiale beat a black man caught selling drugs senseless.”72 In the profile by Matt Labash, Stone would refer to Malcolm X as his “brother under the skin.”73

For twenty seven days, just as in 2000, things were in stasis. When there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new hotel, both Kean and Florio showed up with scissors. Finally, it was over, and Kean was declared the winner. The DNC would file suit against the RNC, Civil Action No. 81-3876, over the ballot security program:

This is an action, arising chiefly from the activities of the defendants’ National Ballot Security Task Force, for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages against the defendants for their efforts to intimidate, threaten and coerce duly qualified black and Hispanic voters from voting and from urging and aiding other black and Hispanic duly qualified persons to vote in the State of New Jersey.

The RNC and DNC would reach a settlement agreement, which among other things would forbid anything like the ballot security group in a polling place.

Ballot security, however, would return again and again as an issue for Republicans74. In 1986, one RNC political director wrote to another RNC political director of the upcoming election in Louisiana and the possible impact of a ballot security program, “I know this race is really important to you. I would guess that this program will eliminate at least 60-80,000 folks from the rolls….If it’s a close race…which I’m assuming it is, this could keep the black vote down considerably.”75 The Republican National Committee would also turn in over sixty thousand voter names to the FBI, in an effort to investigate potential voter fraud. They had no evidence that the names had any involvement in wrongdoing, other than the fact that registered mail sent to their addresses was returned to sender76. In 2008, the RNC would appeal to have the 1982 consent decree modified or abolished. The judge who wrote the original decree was not persuaded, and rejected their arguments77. In 2008, after a long exile from visible political life, John Kelly headed up John McCain’s Catholic outreach78.

Jim Florio would eventually get elected as governor of New Jersey, then be defeated in his re-election bid by Christine Todd Whitman. Shortly after her victory, Whitman’s political consultant, Ed Rollins, who’d headed up Reagan’s 1980 and 1984 campaigns, would share how he pulled off this narrow, upset victory. The campaign had funneled half a million dollars in “walking around money” to keep the vote down in urban, heavily Democratic areas. “We went into black churches and we basically said to ministers who had endorsed Florio, ‘Do you have a special project?’ And they said, “We’ve already endorsed Florio,” Mr. Rollins said. “We said, ‘That’s fine. Don’t get up on the pulpit Sunday and say it’s your moral obligation that you go on Tuesday to vote for Jim Florio.'” They would also keep Democratic political workers away by paying them off. “We said to some of their key workers, ‘How much have they paid you to do your normal duty?'” he said. “Well, we’ll match it. Go home, sit and watch television.”79 Rollins would then turn around and say that he’d only been trolling, just tweaking James Carville, the consultant for Florio. What he’d said was “We went into black churches and we basically said to ministers who had endorsed Florio, ‘Do you have a special project?'”, when what he meant to say was that he’d tell a senior Whitman staffer, Lanna Hooks, “‘Lanna, go back to these people and continue the dialogue and tell them as far as we’re concerned we want to help them. Whatever their favorite charity may be, there are other ways of helping them besides state funding that Florio has, or what have you.’ But I didn’t authorize her to go commit resources and she, as an attorney, wouldn’t ask for that. All I did was give her some suggestions and I said ‘Tell them, if they don’t go up to the pulpit and preach against us on Sunday, we’d be way ahead of the game.'” There’s a difference. Not “Don’t get up on the pulpit Sunday and say it’s your moral obligation that you go on Tuesday to vote for Jim Florio”, but “Tell them, if they don’t go up to the pulpit and preach against us on Sunday, we’d be way ahead of the game.” His statements had not played out as Rollins expected. “My expectation was not that this was going to become a national story, because, obviously, if I thought it was going to be a national story, I would not have taken a gun and put it to my head and blown my career apart as I have done.”80

Just as the chemical weapons in Angola foreshadow what would take place in Iraq, the 1981 New Jersey governor’s election would foreshadow what would take place in Florida in 2000, where Stone achieved his greatest prominence. Voters in the Kean-Florio election would have their names struck because letters mailed to an outdated address list were returned. In Florida, where felons are not allowed to vote, strike lists were made up of names that were similar to any Florida felon’s, with distinguishing middle initials, Jrs. and Srs. ignored. Just as in New Jersey, these strike lists were overwhelmingly African American; the strike lists were ruled illegal and discarded before the New Jersey election, but they were kept in place for the presidential election in Florida. NAACP offices in the state were flooded with calls about people trying to vote and told they couldn’t because they were felons, though they weren’t, who tried to vote, but were told they weren’t on the rolls. “What happened that day – I can’t even put it in words anymore,” said Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s campaign manager. “It was the most painful, dehumanizing, demoralizing thing I’ve ever experienced in my years of organizing.” The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights would hear over thirty hours of testimony of election irregularities from over a hundred witnesses. Their report would make the case that the conduct of the election had violated the voting Rights Act of 196581. Stone, as already said, would refer to Malcolm X as his “brother under the skin.”

Stone’s chapter on his role in the re-count, “Recount 2000,” feels like an unfinished, abbreviated piece of work in every version I have of his memoir. It is spent almost entirely discussing his efforts to get James Baker to help him out with the Kean election, and that this was the reason for helping out in 2000, as a favor returned to Baker, and not out of any affection for the Bush family, who he despises. The conflict between the Bush and Gore campaigns at the time of the Brooks Brothers riot was fairly simple. The Gore campaign had been allowed to conduct a vote recount in four counties, including Miami-Dade. With the current vote totals before the recount favoring Bush by a slim margin, it was in the interests of the Bush campaign to halt any re-count, since any shift in Gore’s favor would create momentum for a wider recount, which might end with Gore winning the state and the election. A shift in Gore’s favor was exactly what was happening during the vote re-count in Miami-Dade when it was halted by a mob82.

Stone’s account of his role in things is given no space in the Labash profile. However, it is perhaps best stated in the Toobin piece:

On November 21, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court gave Gore an important victory by ruling that the deadline for recounts would be extended to November 26th. At that point, the top priority for the Gore forces was to get the recounts up and running, especially in Miami-Dade County, which is the most populous in the state. On the Republican side, according to Stone, “The whole idea behind what they were doing was that there had already been one recount of the votes, so we didn’t want another. The idea was to shut it down, stop the recount here in Miami.” By November 22nd, the recount process had begun, in a conference room on the eighteenth floor of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, a vast concrete office building on a forlorn plaza in downtown Miami.

The scene in front of the Clark center that morning was volatile-which was, of course, exactly how Stone wanted it. Several thousand mostly pro-Bush protesters had gathered on the sun-baked plaza to insist that the recount be shut down. Early that morning, Perez-Roura, of Radio Mambi, had sent Evilio Cepero, a local activist who sometimes worked for him as a reporter, to broadcast from the scene. Cepero urged Perez-Roura’s listeners to join the protest, addressed the growing crowd with a megaphone, and interviewed supporters, like the local members of Congress Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Many held signs that said “SORE/LOSERMAN.” Others chanted, “Remember Elián!”

“We set up a Winnebago trailer, right over here,” Stone said when we got out of the Jaguar and walked about a block away from the Clark center, on First Street. “I set up my command center there. I had walkie-talkies and cell phones, and I was in touch with our people in the building. Our whole idea was to shut the recount down. That was why we were there. We had the frequency to the Democrats’ walkie-talkies and were listening to their communications, but they were so disorganized that we didn’t learn much that was useful.”

A substantial contingent of young Republican Capitol Hill aides, along with such congressmen as John Sweeney, of New York, who had travelled to Miami, joined in the protest. Thanks to this delegation, the events at the Clark center have come to be known as the “Brooks Brothers riot,” but Stone disputes that characterization. “There was a Brooks Brothers contingent, but the crowd in front of the courthouse was largely Spanish,” he said. “Most of the people there were people that we drew to the scene.”

At one point on November 22nd, Stone said, he heard from an ally in the building that Gore supporters were trying to remove some ballots from the counting room. “One of my pimply-faced contacts said, ‘Two commissioners have taken two or three hundred ballots to the elevator,’ ” Stone said. “I said, ‘O.K., follow them. Half you guys go on the elevator and half go in the stairs.’ Everyone got sucked up in this. They were trying to keep the doors from being closed. Meanwhile, they were trying to take the rest of the ballots into a back room with no windows. I told our guys to stop them-don’t let them close the door! They are trying to keep the door from being closed. There was a lot of screaming and yelling.” (In fact, the Gore official in the elevator, Joe Geller, was carrying a single sample ballot.) The dual scenes of chaos-both inside and outside the building-prompted the recount officials to stop their work. The recount in Miami was never re-started, depriving Gore of his best chance to catch up in the over-all state tally.

Toobin makes clear that Stone’s account is not without discontents. Stone says the Brooks Brothers part of the riot, a group made up almost entirely of people outside of Miami, outside of Florida, who were Republican D.C. staffers flown in to cause a ruckus and stop a recount83, was just a small fraction, and a sizable majority were spanish speaking. This does not correspond with other observers. “There were two or three loud Cubans but most of the people I talked to were white, mostly men, from Oklahoma, Texas, mostly Southern states,” says Sunday Times correspondent Tom Rhodes. “They were talking on cellphones, probably to people nearby, telling them to get in there right away and bring as many people as they could.”84 In the room where the Florida operation was run, conservative journalist Paul Gigot would hear that a large group of Cuban-American activists were about to be unleashed. “One thousand local Cuban Republicans were on the way,” was what was said. One thousand local Cuban Republicans never showed up85. “How the Troops Were Mobilized for the Recount” by Dana Canedy and James Dao, has Republicans defending the mob against charges of the belligerence, without contesting who they were. “A group of out-of-state, paid political operatives came to south Florida in an attempt to stop county-wide recounts,” alleged a Democrat. “They crossed state lines and intimidated the counting in a federal election, which is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.” Emily Miller would reply, “This was not a threatening band of armed thugs.” Miller was a spokesperson for Tom DeLay, then the House majority whip. “They were idealistic, enthusiastic young Republicans who felt they were being shut out, that this was an unfair decision.” One of those in the Brooks Brothers riot was Tom Pyle, policy analyst for Tom DeLay86.

Crowd at Brooks Brothers Riot

Various members of the Brooks Brothers Riot, taken from Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election.

The most visible top level figure on the ground wasn’t Roger Stone, who is never mentioned in contemporary reports of the halting of the Miami-Dade count, but John Sweeney, a Republican representative from New York. When the vote counters decided to move to a room closer to the voting machines so as to speed up the count, Sweeney gave the order, “Shut it down,” according to Gigot, who was in the same room as Sweeney when the order was given. After that, the Brooks Brothers mob pounded the doors and windows of the tally room. “Stop the count. Stop the fraud.” Sweeney was giving these orders, according to eyewitnesses, in a room in the same building where the vote tally was taking place. Stone’s account is also disputed by Brad Blakeman. “I was the guy in charge of the trailer, and I coördinated the Brooks Brothers riot,” says Blakeman in the Toobin piece. “Roger did not have a role that I know of. His wife may have been on the radio, but I never saw or heard from him.” Stone scoffs at such doubts87.

We might see who the Bush Administration considered most valuable for their effort in Florida in 2000. Sweeney would get the nick “Congressman Kickass” from the chief executive, and would be given say over EPA, HUD, and Labor appointments, as well as his pick of the plum committee he wished to sit on, picking Appropriations over Ways & Means88. Sweeney would serve several terms in Congress before once again achieving public visibility by smashing his car into an electrical pole in 2006. He said it was because he was busy fiddling with the car’s CD player. The police did not give him a sobriety test. “Pol Versus Pole,” Michael Tomasky would waggishly report. Later in the year, police would get a 911 call from the Sweeney house. “Female caller stating her husband is knocking her around the house,” the dispatcher wrote. “Then she stated `Here it comes, are you ready?’ and disconnected the call.” Sweeney’s wife, Gayle, would say that he grabbed her around the neck and pushed her around the house. John Sweeney had scratches on his face. Sweeney would lose his seat that year to Kristin Gillibrand. Days before the election, the Sweeneys would deny the reports of the 911 call. Gayle Sweeney would say “I did not need to be protected from John…there were no injuries to me.” John Sweeney would blame Kristin Gillibrand: “In her desire for power, she has tried to ruin my marriage, slander my family.” A year later, Gayle Sweeney would say her statement was coerced by advisers trying to save her husband’s campaign. She said that in the incident where she called 911, she had been pushed into a filing cabinet89. In 2010, Sweeney would be jailed for thirty days over a DUI incident. In 2013, the FEC would file a warning letter asking why he’d failed to pay off his 2006 campaign debts, which totaled over $200 000 dollars90. The day after his election loss in 2006, Sweeney appeared on the cover of Success magazine91.

Brad Blakeman would end up in the Bush inner circle, as a deputy assistant to the President. He would later be placed in charge of Freedom’s Watch, a political action group with strong connections to the administration and hefty funding from Sheldon Adelson. They would buy heavy advertising in support of the surge in Iraq. “I know what I lost,” said a veteran with both legs missing in one of their ads. “I also know if we pull out now, everything I’ve given and sacrificed will mean nothing.” A soldier in another ad, also with both legs missing would say, “I would go back to Iraq if I could, it’s that important because if Iraq isn’t stable it will be a breeding ground for terrorists.” Freedom’s Watch was intended to be a conservative counterpoint to progressive groups like MoveOn.org. It was sued by Larry Klayman for copyright violation of his own group, Freedom Watch, and fell apart after a year due to internal squabbling92. In discussing his movie Recount, about the events in Florida, director Jay Roach would place heavy emphasis on Blakeman’s role. “He was, by his own account,” wrote Roach, “the man at least partly behind “Sore Loserman,” “Surrender Gorethy,” “The Gorinch Who Stole the Election,” and other demonstration characters and stunts that appeared at rallies outside the Florida Supreme Court and outside counting centers throughout the 36 days of the recount.”93

Roach would continue:

Blakeman also said he helped organize the edgier “Brooks Brothers Riot” from his roving RV office in Florida. As you see in the film, this protest took place outside the counting rooms in Miami-Dade County. By most accounts, the shouting and shoving and pounding of fists on the doors and windows succeeded in intimidating the canvassing board, who shut down the recount right after the protests, even though the board had approved the counting earlier.

Fascinatingly for me, Blakeman told us there was a very deliberate effort by the Republicans in Florida to “act more like Democrats,” and to take a page out of the book written by the left-wing protestors in the ’60s who used protests and street theater to inject turmoil and chaos into established political processes to make them look flawed, corrupt, or ridiculous (as with the Democratic Convention in 1968 or the attempts to levitate the Pentagon). Blakeman told us that the Republicans were certain that in 2000, the Democrats would “lie, cheat, and steal” to win the Florida recount. So, to “preserve the victory,” the Republicans this time had to pre-emptively take to the streets and make the recount seem messy, chaotic, and even dangerous to the country. The hope was to prevent the recount from flipping the victory to Gore, and if it did, to make the recount’s results seem illegitimate.

For Blakeman, this meant loud protests during the recounting; bull-horn disruptions that shut down speeches by people like Jesse Jackson and other Democrats during rallies; characters like “Cry-Baby Gore”; and catchy slogans and T-shirts at every possible public event. He told us that for him, what the Democrats and the Florida Supreme Court were trying to do was pure farce, so the only proper response was pure farce. He wanted people to connect hand-counting of votes with utter turmoil and dysfunction, and for him, the wackier the whole process seemed, the better.

In the movie Recount, the other supposed co-ordinator of the Brooks Brothers Riot is mentioned once, when James Baker says with a sinister undertone “Get me Roger Stone.” This quote is carried about like a totem by Stone, a blurb of endorsement at the beginning of his memoir. Stone never appears in the movie, though both Blakeman (played by Christopher Schmidt) and Sweeney (played by Tom Hillmann) do. Stone has been up front in his enjoyment of fame, often quoting Gore Vidal, “Never turn down an opportunity for sex or being on TV.” Stone most often appears on marginal stations, local networks, webcasts you’ve never heard of – “The Daily National”, Miami’s “The Fish Tank”, RT.com, Reason TV – while Blakeman is a mainstay of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News94. This is not to suggest Stone got nothing out of the debacle in Florida, or that he did nothing there, but his major project may have involved something other than the Brooks Brothers riot, an incident given little or no attention by the press, and entirely omitted from the Labash and Toobin profiles. I will write now of what he was involved in, and delay till the next section the interesting prize he may have got in return.

“Gore made the tragic mistake of only selecting recounts in certain counties,” writes Stone in his memoir. “where he thought he might gain votes instead of all counties.”95 Like I said, this chapter is obviously unfinished, with the end coming abruptly in the next sentence, like a diary entry from a sinking ship: “In fact, Gore would have gained from a statewide recount as African American enclaves in Northern and Central Florida had” It’s an interesting criticism for Stone to make given his work in Florida after the election, work which was witnessed and which carried his name, and rather than attempt an association, Stone tried for a disassociation.

“Republican Group Seeks To Unseat Three Justices” by the excellent Dexter Filkins conveys well what took place. The Florida Supreme Court had ruled against the Bush campaign twice, a 7-0 ruling to allow for a recount of the four counties, and later, a 4-3 ruling for a recount of all undervotes in the state. It was this decision that the federal supreme court would overrule, halting the vote count, and handing the election to Bush. The Filkins piece would note an event now entirely forgotten, the appearance of the Emergency Florida State Supreme Court Project, which sent out over three hundred thousand letters soliciting funds in an effort to unseat those Florida Supreme Court justices who’d been appointed by Democrats – Chief Justice Charles T. Wells, Leander J. Shaw Jr., Harry Lee Anstead – who had voted in unanimity in the first 7-0 decision on the four county recount. The committee had been set up prior to the vote, perhaps as a warning to the justices of the consequences of voting against the Bush campaign. It was headed up by Republican County Commissioner Mary McCarty. Though the Emergency Florida State Supreme Court Project will be the focus here, it should be noted that it was also joined by a second group, Balance the Bench, whose objective was to unseat Harry Anstead, who’d voted with three other justices for a recount of all undervotes. Balance the Bench was founded by Susan Johnson and a Tampa businessman named Sam Rashid96. Emergency Florida State Supreme Court Project was chaired, as said, by Mary McCarty, who ended up being fined by the Florida Election Committee for violating election laws with the political action group. McCarty, however, would insist they had got it wrong. “I didn’t do any of this except sign my name,” insisted McCarty. “This was basically some sort of a scam that was set up that I was used in. I was duped. My name was used, so I have to take the brunt of it.” McCarty insisted that she’d been played, played by someone named-97 Well, reader, who do you think it was?

From “Election Law: Supreme Plot” (archived) by Dan Christianson, from Daily Business Review, July 10, 2003:

During Mary McCarty’s 2-day hearing, the FEC’s lawyer argued that Roger Stone and Mary McCarty established the “Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary” to pressure the Florida State Supreme Court to rule in favor of then Texas Gov. George W. Bush in his ballot re-count battle with Al Gore. Mary McCarty testified that the Committee began to take shape 6 to 9 days after the Nov. 7th election. The Florida Supreme Court was first asked by Al Gore to order hand re-counts in the decisive Florida race on Nov. 15th.

“This was an attempt to let the Justices know, who were going to eventually decide the presidential election, that they were going to be watched,” Commission Assistant counsel Eric M. Lipman said in his opening arguments. “And it was an attempt to influence what they were going to do.”

According to Judge Hooper’s 36-page order, Roger Stone, through his Washington, D.C.-based firm, “Ikon Public Affairs”, was the real agent behind the campaign in late 2000 and 2001 to defeat the Florida Justices in the 2002 merit retention election. But who, if anyone, was paying Roger Stone and giving him orders remains unclear.

Mary McCarty’s lawbreaking, including findings that she certified the accuracy of a Campaign Treasurer’s report that was “incorrect, false, or incomplete,” accepted excessive contributions and displayed a “reckless disregard” for Florida State Election laws, stemmed from her Chairmanship of the now-defunct “Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary”.

The PAC, which began operating in late November 2000′, but wasn’t legally established until early January 2001, targeted Justices: Harry Lee Anstead, Charles T. Wells, and Justice Leander J. Shaw for defeat in the 2002 merit retention elections. Mary McCarty’s highly publicized “Mad as Hell” letter, mailed to as many as 350,000 conservatives in early December 2000, sought to raise $4.5 million to unseat them.

Florida Election records show that hundreds of people responded to the solicitation letter, which raised a total of about $220,000. That sum included a mysterious $150,000 loan whose origin still hasn’t been determined.

As far as I can tell, the origin of the $150,000 loan has never been discovered. McCarty would, however, be able to give other details:

At her hearing, Mary McCarty testified she was drafted into the presidential re-count battle on the morning after the Nov. 7th Election meltdown in Florida. Top Republicans recruited her to oversee the ballot re-count in Palm Beach County, home of the notorious “butterfly ballot” that confused many voters.

“Members of the Bush-Cheney campaign ‘took up residence in my office’,” she said.

The re-count controversy landed before the Florida Supreme Court the week after the election when Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris, the Florida co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign, refused to grant the request of the Gore-Lieberman campaign for a re-count. On Nov. 21, the Florida State Supreme Court unanimously decided to give Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties more time to finish hand re-counts sought by Al Gore.

Mary McCarty testified that between Nov. 13 and Nov. 16, Roger Stone called her at her home. “He explained to me that people were very, very upset with the way the Florida Supreme Court was conducting itself, and that in Florida we have a merit retention system.”

A few weeks later, on Dec. 8th, the Florida Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, ordered the then-stalled re-count to resume and be extended Floridawide. Four days after that, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote in Bush v. Al Gore, effectively shut down the re-count, prompting Al Gore to concede the election to Bush.

Mary McCarty testified she previously had met Roger Stone at a campaign fund-raiser for Sen. Arlen Specter, Republican-Pa., and that they had worked together briefly when she considered running for Congress in the late 1990s. So, when Roger Stone told her he was forming a Committee “for the purposes of taking action against the Florida Supreme Court”, which is what Judge Hooper subsequently found, she decided to go along.

Dianne Thorne of Miami Beach, who became the Committee’s Treasurer, testified in a deposition that Roger Stone asked for her help in setting up the Committee’s clerical operation. Dianne Thorne said Roger Stone had contacted her because she used to date his son. The Committee listed as its business address a P.O. Box at a USA Pack & Post on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach.

On Thanksgiving Day 2000, according to Mary McCarty’s testimony, Roger Stone faxed her the text of a fund-raising letter to which she’d agreed to lend her name. Later, Mary McCarty said, Roger Stone and his “Associates” arranged to file all the necessary paperwork to create the “Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary”. The FEC investigators found that the papers sent to the Florida Department of Elections to establish the Committee were sent from the Washington office of Ikon Public Affairs, according to documents in the FEC’s case file.

Mary McCarty testified that the original version of the fund-raising letter she was asked to review did not target specific 3 Florida Supreme Court justices. But, the final version that went out the first week of December did. She said she didn’t approve it, but acknowledged she didn’t object either. “I just decided that I would be held accountable for something that I agreed to get into,” she said. “And wherever it took me, I would just be the one to take the lumps.”

Mary McCarty’s “Dear Friend” letter was shrill. “Were you as outraged by the Florida Supreme Court’s efforts to highjack [sic] the presidency for Al Gore as I was?” the letter asked. “It was an outrageous, arrogant power-grab by a left-wing court which is stuck in the liberal 60s…We must raise at least $4.5 million by the ‘Vote No’ campaign to organize Florida voters to reject the retention of these three liberal Supreme Court justices.”

Everything, everything, related to the $150,000 loan was mysterious, and, as far as I can tell, remain unanswered mysteries to this day:

The direct mail fund-raising campaign cost $150,000. According to Judge Hooper, Roger Stone came up with the money that Committee campaign records later listed as a “loan” from an Alexandria, Va.-based firm called Creative Marketing. The mailing address reported by the Committee for Creative Marketing was the same as that of the Stone Group, a fund-raising and marketing firm owned by Roger Stone’s ex-wife, conservative Republican activist Ann Stone. Investigators could find no company by the name of Creative Marketing.

Mary McCarty said Roger Stone told her he and his partner, Craig Snyder, would be personally responsible for repaying the $150,000 that funded the “Dear Friend” mass mailing.

There were also questions about who the money went to. Judge Hooper found that Roger Stone “or his Organization” actually paid the $150,000 not to Creative Marketing but to a Virginia company called Unique Graphics and Design, which, according to Virginia State corporate records, had as its principals Ann Stone and Lora Lynn Jones. The Committee subsequently paid Unique Graphics an additional $50,000 in May 2001 for purposes that remain unclear.

Last November, Lora Lynn Jones testified in a deposition that it was Roger Stone who hired Unique Graphics for the Florida work, gave her “marching orders,” and was responsible for paying the tab for the fund-raising letter. Lora Jones said she asked for and received the entire $150,000 payment by wire, in advance, because Roger Stone had “burned” her once before on a job.

Neither Hooper nor the FEC determined why the Committee listed “Creative Marketing” rather than “Unique Graphics” as the recipient of the payments. In another anomaly, a Daily Business Review examination of Virginia State corporate records found that “Unique Graphics” was NOT a legal entity when the two payments of $150,000 and $50,000 were made and received. The company’s charter was terminated in 1994, and the firm was purged from the state’s records in 1999.

And despite state records showing that Ann Stone was a principal of “Unique Graphics”, Lora Jones said she was the sole owner and employee. She also said, however, that she was a longtime employee of the Stone Group.

Though there was the possibility that McCarty would be hit with a fine of $450 000 for her violations, she only got a $2000 penalty, $1000 for filing an incomplete financial report, $1000 for the $150,000 contribution, which was a little over the $500 contribution limit. She still had hefty legal bills of over $50,000, so she set up a legal defense fund, and asked for contributions. Florida Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein would contribute $100 and try to solicit more through his mailing list. “From our perspective, she fought the good fight even though she didn’t cross her T’s and I’s properly,” said Dinerstein98. Two years later, in 2005, McCarty would have to pay a $3750 fine, after she admitted to the Florida Elections Commission that she accepted lobbyist contributions into her legal fund. She was facing re-election that year. “It’s old news and I think the lightness of the sanction is indicative of how minor and technical the offense was,” said Sid Dinerstein. “It’s really a non-issue. Mary’s got some great current issues that are going to work for her. I think she’s going to have a very easy re-election.” Dinerstein would continue: “She is virtually single-handedly responsible for getting Scripps settled from the commission, and the whole county is aware of it, and she will be rewarded for it as she should be.”99 Scripps was a local convention center. Four years later- Well, it’s kindof complicated:

FEDS CHRONICLE DECADE OF FRAUD IN MCCARTYS’ CASE

By TONY DORIS and JENNIFER SORENTRUE

Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

Friday, January 09, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH – For more than a decade, federal prosecutors said Friday, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty and her husband profited from manipulating hundreds of millions of dollars worth of public business for their own gain.

Mary and Kevin McCarty’s behind-the-scenes machinations enabled them to sway lucrative bond deals with the county government, the school board, the county’s Housing Finance Authority and the city of Delray Beach, prosecutors said after filing charges against the fallen power couple.

The bond deals involved some of the county’s most important initiatives during the past decade. Among them were the development of The Scripps Research Institute, the county’s ill-fated convention center hotel project and the $100 million initiative to limit building in the Agricultural Reserve. Also implicated are bonds used for Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter and the Old School Square parking garage in Delray Beach.

To cover her tracks, Mary McCarty lied to investigators about gifts and favors she had received from developers and other firms doing business with the county, according to 57 pages of formal charges filed Friday in federal court.

The McCartys’ take from all these efforts, the feds say: at least $300,000.

Their likely penalties include years behind bars, the forfeiture of their ill-gotten gains, public disgrace and the loss of Mary McCarty’s state pension. Once declared felons, the two GOP stalwarts won’t even be allowed to vote.

The scheme of Mary McCarty and her husband, Kevin, involved, among other things, pressuring the city to award the bond work to Kevin’s firm, Bear Stearns – yes, that Bear Stearns. Two of her fellow county commissioners had also been convicted and sentenced to prison. On July 19, 2011, she entered Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas100. “Public trust is a sacred thing, and I violated that trust. And it’s something I’m ashamed of,” she would say in prison. “As I was conducting myself for all these years, I did what I thought was customary and correct,” McCarty would explain. “And if it wasn’t, I would rationalize that it was no big deal. I did a lot of minimizing.” McCarty now had $98,000 in fines that she had to pay off. She had expected to collect a $65,000 a year pension, but that was now gone with her felony conviction. She had expected to retire the year she went to prison. Now, she needed to find work when she got out. “I’m going to hope that there’s some courageous person out there who believes in second chances that’s willing to hire me and give me a second chance,” she said. “I know how government works, local government.”101 On March 25th, 2011, she entered a halfway house. While in prison, McCarty said she would try to get her civil rights restored so she could once again vote102.

On April 10, 2015, this post underwent a session of copy editing, and the gif excerpted from Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election was added.

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

FOOTNOTES

66 From Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

67 From Republican Ballot Security Programs: Vote Protection or Minority Vote Suppression – or Both? A Report to the Center for Voting Rights & Protection (specific page 57) by Chandler Davidson, Tanya Dunlap, Gale Kenny, and Benjamin Wise:

The RNC spent between $75,000 and $80,000 on the New Jersey Ballot Security Program, mostly on the mailings. New Jersey law in 1981 allowed election supervisors to send out sample ballots to registered voters in the year of an election. If a sample ballot was returned by the postal service, the supervisor could re-send the sample ballot, this time marked “Please Forward” and requesting notification of any address change. If sample ballots in the second wave were not returned, these voters’ names could be placed on a “challenge list” and taken to election officials at the polls. In contrast, the New Jersey ballot security team, on its own, sent out postcards using outdated voter registration lists, and sent them only to precincts with a majority of black and Hispanic voters. The 45,000 returned mailings were converted immediately into challenge lists without sending a second mailing. However, two weeks before the election was to begin the New Jersey Commissioners of Registration refused to accept the lists when they discovered they had been compiled using outdated voter information. The RNC nonetheless announced they would continue their efforts to ensure ballot security in the state’s election, without the lists.

68 From Republican Ballot Security Programs: Vote Protection or Minority Vote Suppression – or Both? A Report to the Center for Voting Rights & Protection (specific page 57) by Chandler Davidson, Tanya Dunlap, Gale Kenny, and Benjamin Wise:

The RNC nonetheless announced they would continue their efforts to ensure ballot security in the state’s election, without the lists.

This was primarily done by placing poll-watchers on Election Day (November 3) at voting sites where, according to the chairman of the Republican Committee in Mercer County, “in the past there have been suspicions of voter fraud.” Some of the pollwatchers were lawyers; several others were off-duty police officers who carried guns and two-way radios. All of them wore armbands that read, “National Ballot Security Task Force.”

On the morning of Election Day Angelo J. Genova, a lawyer for the Democratic State Committee, charged that the Republican Party was waging a systematic campaign designed to prevent minorities from voting and sought a court order that the signs be removed. At midday Judge Daniel A. O’Donnell of the State Superior Court in Trenton ordered all the signs taken down, saying they were inherently “political” and didn’t specify who had paid for them. The signs were removed beginning at 4 p.m. on the same day.

One voter, Amy Hammond of Trenton, called the toll-free number repeatedly to ascertain who was in charge of the posters. She was told several times that “we don’t divulge our clients. We are an organization that works for an honest vote on Election Day. We’ve done it in other states. We did it in Indiana, we did Hawaii, we did California, we’ve worked in Nevada.” When Hammond responded that she saw “a guy walking around with a gun” at the polls, she was told that the man “might have been a plainclothes officer assigned there by the county sheriff or something.” A later call to directory assistance revealed that the phone number was registered under the RNC.

Apart from the established facts that the task force put up signs and that some wore armbands and had guns and radios, there were conflicting reports about the actions of the poll-watchers on Election Day. Democratic city councilman Anthony Carrino, from the North Ward of Newark, reported that the task force operated only in about half the precincts in the North Ward, primarily in minority districts. The task force, he maintained, was “like the Gestapo,” and would arrive at polls in groups and demand to examine voter registration books. Kenneth J. Guido, Jr., a lawyer for the DNC, claimed one voter “was physically pulled out of a polling place” by a member of the task force. There were allegations that the task force interrogated voters at the polls, refused to allow certain voters into the polls, removed signs advertising Democratic candidates, and even prevented poll workers from assisting voters. One voter said she did not vote because of the presence and actions of the task force. The president of the NAACP in Trenton claimed, “I saw Gestapo armbands in my polling place, and I won’t tolerate seeing them here in the future.”

69 From “G.O.P. Relieves Security Official In Jersey Voting” by Selwyn Raab:

John A. Kelly, the Republican National Committee official who was in charge of the party’s controversial National Ballot Security Task Force in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, was suspended from his duties yesterday.

Mark T. Braden, counsel to the committee, said in Union, N.J., that Mr. Kelly was “relieved of his duties” with pay until the committee had investigated apparent inaccuracies by Mr. Kelly in a biography he gave to the committee.

The inaccuracies were said to concern information that associated Mr. Kelly with a national police officers’ group and that said he had graduated from the School of Law at Fordham University and the University of Notre Dame.

From “Jersey Inquiry Is Planned On Vote Security Force” by Selwyn Raab:

Mr. Kelly, according to friends, grew up in the Stuyvesant Town section of Manhattan and had been active in Manhattan Republican Party politics.

In 1971, he was the first person in the city to register to vote under a law extending that right to 18-year-olds. Mr. Kelly was arrested in 1976 on charges of impersonating a police officer, but the charge was dismissed. In 1974, he was discharged as a Family Court officer in Manhattan after being charged with having twice threatened persons with a gun.

From “Jersey’s Ballots Impounded With Tiny Margin Wavering” by Richard J. Meislin:

When Mr. Kean began his news conference, a county-by-county canvass of the results showed his lead at 1,090 votes. By the time he finished less than an hour later, an error reported by Middlesex County had diminished his margin to 265.

That lead later grew to 1,158, after Essex County reported that it had failed to include the vote totals for one district and was revising its figures.

The County Clerk, Pat Drake, said, “The figures weren’t turned in last evening; I just got them this afternoon.” Essex County, which voted heavily for Mr. Florio, had reported that its returns were complete Tuesday night. When asked how the error had occurred, Mrs. Drake said, “I don’t know,” but added that she believed another election district was counted twice. The new precinct voted 404 to 23 in Mr. Florio’s favor, but the overall adjustment resulted in an additional edge for Mr. Kean.

When he first heard the news of the adjustment, Roger Stone, Mr. Kean’s political consultant, said, “They’re stealing it – we’re just not going to stand for it, just to ‘find’ a precinct like that. You get so numb, you don’t know whether to be exhilarated or depressed.” After learning that the change in the figures favored his candidate, however, Mr. Stone conferred with his colleagues and said: “We just took a vote here and we think that’s O.K.”

70 From “Imperiale Called A Chief In G.O.P. Poll ‘Security'” by Selwyn Raab:

NEWARK, Nov. 16- The Essex County Prosecutor said today that Assemblyman Anthony Imperiale had been identified as having been in charge of “street operations” for a Republican ballot-security task force in Newark on Election Day.

Mr. Imperiale had previously denied any involvement in the security program, which is being investigated by the Prosecutor, George L. Schneider, following complaints by Democratic Party officials that it intimidated voters in the gubernatorial election on Nov. 3.

Mr. Schneider said Mr. Imperiale’s role in the operation had been disclosed by John A. Kelly, who was the director of the National Ballot Security Task Force in New Jersey. Republican Party officials have said that the task force was created to prevent voting frauds and that no proof of any intimidation of legitimate voters has been presented.

On Nov. 6, Assemblyman Imperiale, a Republican who represents a district in Newark, denied in an interview with The New York Times that he or a security agency that he operates had been involved in the ballot-security program in Newark, He characterized assertions by Democratic Party leaders that he might be involved as “a prefabricated lie.” He insisted that he had had no foreknowledge of the program and had not seen signs put up by the task force warning against illegal voting.

“I’m a state legislator,” he added. “I don’t put up signs. I went to the polls as a legislator in my district, the way I always do. I didn’t drop anyone off wearing armbands. If the Democrats are making charges that I knew about this, then tough crap on them. It’s the Democrats who have a reputation of stealing votes.”

71 From “Imperale Admits G.O.P. ‘Security’ Role” by Selwyn Raab:

NEWARK, Nov. 17- Assemblyman Anthony Imperiale acknowledged today that he was in charge of a Republican ballot-security program in Newark on Election Day. But he said that charges of voter intimidation by Democratic Party leaders were “sour grapes.”

The statewide activities of the program, the National Ballot Security Task Force, in the close gubernatorial election Nov. 3 are under investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor’s office.

Mr. Imperiale, after questioning by the Prosecutor, George L. Schneider, told reporters he had assigned about 35 people on Election Day to guard polling places in Newark and to report to him any possible voting irregularities. The guards, he said, were instructed “not to approach any voters.”

“Who did it intimidate?” Mr. Imperiale said. “No one but fraudulent voters in my opinion. This is sour grapes from Democrats. They don’t know how to take defeat.”

On Nov. 6, Mr. Imperiale, in an interview with The New York Times, said a published report that he was involved in the task force was “a prefabricated lie.” Asked today about his earlier denial, Mr. Imperiale replied: “I never denied it. It must have been a mistake.”

From “Indelicate Delegate”, no credited writer, of The New York Times:

With no contest for their Presidential nomination this year, Republicans have been free to choose their national convention delegates with an eye to broadening President Reagan’s electoral support.

It is hard to see how New Jersey Republicans served that goal by awarding a seat to former State Assemblyman Anthony Imperiale.

Mr. Imperiale, who once publicly referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as “Martin Luther Coon,” began his demagogic political career as a preacher of armed white self-defense following the 1967 Newark riots.

72 From Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

73 From “Roger Stone, Political Animal” by Matt Labash:

I ask him how he feels about this in retrospect. He seems to feel pretty good–now that certain statutes of limitations are up. He cites one of Stone’s Rules, by way of Malcolm X, his “brother under the skin”: “By any means necessary.” “Reagan got the electoral votes in New York State, we saved the country,” Stone says with characteristic understatement. “[More] Carter would’ve been an unmitigated disaster.”

74 From “Civil Action No. 81-3876 Consent Order”, the crucial part of the consent decree is the following, which both the RNC and DNC must comply with:

(a) comply with all applicable state and federal laws protecting the rights of duly qualified citizens to vote for the candidate(s) of their choice;

(b) in the event that they produce or place any signs which are part of ballot security activities, cause said signs to disclose that they are authorized or sponsored by the party committees and any other committees participating with the party committees;

(c) refrain from giving any directions to or permitting their agents or employees to remove or deface any lawfully printed and placed campaign materials or signs;

(d) refrain from giving any directions to or permitting their employees to campaign within restricted polling areas or to interrogate prospective voters as to their qualifications to vote prior to their entry to a polling place;

(e) refrain from undertaking any ballot security activities in polling places or election districts where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor in the decision to conduct, or the actual conduct of, such activities there and where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting; and the conduct of such activities disproportionately in or directed toward districts that have a substantial proportion of racial or ethnic populations shall be considered relevant evidence of the existence of such a factor and purpose;

(f) refrain from having private personnel deputized as law enforcement personnel in connection with ballot security activities.

75 From “G.O.P. Memo Tells Of Black Vote Cut” by Martin Tolchin:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24- A Federal judge today released a memorandum in which a Republican official said the party’s program to pare the voting rolls in the name of “ballot integrity” “could keep the black vote down considerably” in a Louisiana Senate primary.

The memorandum, prepared by Kris Wolfe, a Middle Western regional director for the Republican National Committee, was sent to Lanny Griffith, the committee’s regional director for the South. It was obtained by the Democratic National Committee in a $10 million lawsuit against the Republican committee over the “ballot integrity” program.

Ms. Wolfe’s memorandum concerned the “ballot integrity” project in Louisiana, in a Senate primary race pitting Representative W. Henson Moore, a Republican, against Representative John B. Breaux, a Democrat. The memo was unsealed by Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise in Newark Federal District Court.

“I would guess that this program will eliminate at least 60-80,000 folks from the rolls,” Ms. Wolfe wrote. “If it’s a close race, which I’m assuming it is, this could keep the black vote down considerably.”

76 From “G.O.P. Turned 60,000 In To FBI” by Nicholas Horrock:

WASHINGTON – The Republican National Committee turned over the names of more than 60,000 registered voters in Louisiana and Indiana to the FBI in an effort to get the government to investigate alleged voter fraud, the chairman said Thursday, despite the fact it had no evidence of wrongdoing by the voters.

In a meeting with reporters, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the chairman, acknowledged that the only indication that the RNC had that the people named might be involved in wrongdoing was that mail sent to addresses they had listed on voter documents had been returned by the National Postal Service.

He said that the report to the bureau was not made to elicit investigations of the individuals but to encourage a major voter-fraud inquiry by the federal agents.

77 From “The Ballot Cops” by Mariah Blake:

Meanwhile, the RNC has tried to get back into the ballot-­security game. In 2008, the party asked Dickinson Debevoise, the New Jersey federal judge who presided over the two 1980s cases, to abolish or modify the decades-old consent decree barring certain anti-voter fraud activities. The RNC argued that the ban had outlived its purpose, but Debevoise was not persuaded, and denied the RNC’s request. (The party appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which affirmed Debevoise’s ruling.) “Minority voters continue to overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates,” Debe­voise wrote in his 2009 decision. “As long as that is the case, the RNC and other Republican groups may be tempted to keep qualified minority voters from casting their ballots, especially in light of the razor-thin margin of victory by which many elections have been decided in recent years.”

78 From “Ghosts From the Past” by “The Prowler”:

CATHOLIC BACKREACH
As the White House and Republican National Committee officials begin to transition their political resources to help Sen. John McCain’s run for the presidency, both are looking at how best to support McCain’s campaign. As we reported last week, one focus is rebuilding Catholic outreach. According to RNC insiders, that has put the focus on current RNC outreach co-director John A. Kelly (he was appointed to the post, along with Leonard Leo, of the Federalist Society, by then-RNC director Ken Mehlman).

Since Kelly took over the job, however, the Republican Party has seen its support among Catholics nosedive, and Kelly’s own checkered past is raising questions about the RNC’s seriousness of rebuilding Catholic outreach.

Before becoming head of Catholic outreach, Kelly was better known as the John A. Kelly who back in the early 1980s had served as a low-level RNC aide who was removed from that job, according to the New York Times, for passing himself off as a White House employee of the then newly installed Reagan Administration.

Kelly was moved over to another job at the RNC, working on a ballot security task force for the 1981 New Jersey governor’s race that saw Tom Kean defeat James Florio. That outcome was tainted by Democrat charges that the RNC-backed task force intimidated voters in inner-city areas; a lawsuit was filed against the RNC, and the national party later signed a pledge in federal court promising not to allow such intimidation of Democrat voters again.

Kelly was suspended from his duties by the RNC after questions were raised about his resume, and whether he’d actually worked as a police officer, attended or graduated from Fordham Law School, or attended Notre Dame (he attended Holy Cross Junior College in South Bend, Indiana, graduating in 1972). He later resigned his RNC post.

His biography used for public appearances today says, “In the past, Kelly has been the White House Liaison to the Republican National Committee for political and personnel issues, a political aide to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance, but Catholic outreach is a disaster right now,” says a former senior Reagan Administration official who dealt with Kelly during his time at the RNC in the early 1980s. “Two thousand six was just a mess for us and 2008 isn’t looking any better.”

79 From “Whitman Funds Went to Curtail Black Turnout” by Richard L. Berke:

Christine Todd Whitman’s campaign made payments to black ministers and Democratic Party workers in exchange for promises not to rally votes for Gov. Jim Florio in the final stages of the New Jersey gubernatorial race, her campaign manager said today.

The manager, Edward J. Rollins, said the campaign funneled about $500,000 in such “walking around money” from the state Republican Party. Those efforts to depress the vote in urban, heavily Democratic areas, he said, were important in Mrs. Whitman’s narrow upset victory.

Speaking to reporters at a breakfast meeting, Mr. Rollins described the payments to ministers as contributions to their “favorite charities.”

“We went into black churches and we basically said to ministers who had endorsed Florio, ‘Do you have a special project?’ And they said, “We’ve already endorsed Florio,” Mr. Rollins said. “We said, ‘That’s fine. Don’t get up on the pulpit Sunday and say it’s your moral obligation that you go on Tuesday to vote for Jim Florio.’ ”

Mr. Rollins said the campaign used a more direct approach to persuade some Democratic political workers to stay home on Election Day. “We said to some of their key workers, ‘How much have they paid you to do your normal duty?’ ” he said. “Well, we’ll match it. Go home, sit and watch television.”

Mr. Rollins said the payments were arranged at lower levels of the campaign. “Those were our community people who obviously knew what they needed to do and where they needed to do it,” he explained.

The actions that Mr. Rollins said were taken by the black ministers fly in the face of generations of activism in black churches. In many communities, black ministers have led drives to get voters registered and in urging them to vote, usually for Democrats.

Mr. Rollins, who volunteered the information at the breakfast this morning, seemed to be arguing, however, that his tactics were well within the hardball traditions of New Jersey politics, particularly in urban areas, where “street money” is often used to stimulate voting.

80 From “Rollins Says He Fabricated Payoff Tale to Irk Foes” by Jerry Gray:

At times expressing bewilderment and at other times turning morbidly plaintive, Edward J. Rollins Jr. spent nearly seven hours today explaining under oath the circumstances that he said led to his assertions about efforts to suppress the urban black vote in the recent governor’s race in New Jersey.

In a rambling soliloquy, Mr. Rollins said it was an effort to get in a dig at his rival political strategist in the race, James Carville, that ultimately led him to boast to Washington reporters about an elaborate election scheme that he now says is a lie.

Nevertheless, he described a strategy meeting several weeks before Election Day with a senior black official in Christine Todd Whitman’s campaign which — except for his insistence that he authorized no official campaign funds — bore a strong resemblance to the operations that he bragged about Nov. 9 and that he has since recanted.

Mr. Rollins said he did tell Lanna Hooks, a co-chairwoman of the Whitman campaign and one of the senior black officials in the Republican candidate’s camp, to “continue a dialogue” with black churches.

“I said, ‘Lanna, go back to these people and continue the dialogue and tell them as far as we’re concerned we want to help them. Whatever their favorite charity may be, there are other ways of helping them besides state funding that Florio has, or what have you.’ But I didn’t authorize her to go commit resources and she, as an attorney, wouldn’t ask for that. All I did was give her some suggestions and I said ‘Tell them, if they don’t go up to the pulpit and preach against us on Sunday, we’d be way ahead of the game.’ “

“My expectation was not that this was going to become a national story, because, obviously, if I thought it was going to be a national story, I would not have taken a gun and put it to my head and blown my career apart as I have done,” Mr. Rollins was quoted as saying in a transcript of his testimony that was provided, with his consent, by the Democratic National Committee.

81 Perhaps one of the best accounts of the disaster in Florida is “The Path To Florida” by David Margolick, Evgenia Peretz, and Michael Shnayerson:

Amid the media frenzy after the election, one story went untold-the one in the footnote that Scalia had asked Ginsburg to delete from her dissent. In fact, thousands of African-Americans in Florida had been stripped of their right to vote.

Adora Obi Nweze, the president of the Florida State Conference of the N.A.A.C.P., went to her polling place and was told she couldn’t vote because she had voted absentee-even though she hadn’t. Cathy Jackson of Broward, who’d been a registered voter since 1996, showed up at the polls and was told she was not on the rolls. After seeing a white woman casting an affidavit ballot, she asked if she could do the same. She was turned down. Donnise DeSouza of Miami was also told that she wasn’t on the rolls. She was moved to the “problem line”; soon thereafter, the polls closed, and she was sent home. Lavonna Lewis was on the rolls. But after waiting in line for hours, the polls closed. She was told to leave, while a white man was allowed to get in line, she says.

U.S. congresswoman Corrine Brown, who was followed into her polling place by a local television crew, was told her ballot had been sent to Washington, D.C., and so she couldn’t vote in Florida. Only after two and a half hours was she allowed to cast her ballot. Brown had registered thousands of students from 10 Florida colleges in the months prior to the election. “We put them on buses,” she says, “took them down to the supervisor’s office. Had them register. When it came time to vote, they were not on the rolls!” Wallace McDonald of Hillsborough County went to the polls and was told he couldn’t vote because he was a felon-even though he wasn’t. The phone lines at the N.A.A.C.P. offices were ringing off the hook with stories like these. “What happened that day-I can’t even put it in words anymore,” says Donna Brazile, Gore’s campaign manager, whose sister was asked for three forms of identification in Seminole County before she was allowed to vote. “It was the most painful, dehumanizing, demoralizing thing I’ve ever experienced in my years of organizing.”

In retrospect, the claims of disenfranchisement were hardly phony. In January and February 2001, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the highly divided, highly partisan government-appointed group formed in 1957, heard more than 30 hours of damning testimony from more than 100 witnesses. The report, which came out in June of that year, made a strong case that the election violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The commissioners duly passed their report up to newly installed attorney general Ashcroft. Little was done.

Throughout Florida, people – many of them black men, such as Willie Steen, a decorated Gulf War veteran – went to the polls and were informed that they couldn’t vote, because they were convicted felons – even though they weren’t.

“The poll worker looked at the computer and said that there was something about me being a felon,” says Steen, who showed up at his polling place in Hillsborough County, young son in tow. Florida is one of just seven states that deny former felons the right to vote, but Steen wasn’t a felon.

“I’ve never been arrested before in my life,” Steen told the woman. A neighbor on line behind him heard the whole exchange. Steen tried to hide his embarrassment and quietly pleaded with the poll worker, How could I have ended up on the list? She couldn’t give him an answer. As the line lengthened, she grew impatient. “She brushed me off and said, ‘Hey, get to the side,'” recalls Steen. The alleged felony, Steen later learned, took place between 1991 and 1993-when he was stationed in the Persian Gulf.

Steen wasn’t the only upstanding black citizen named Willie on the list. So was Willie Dixon, a Tampa youth leader and pastor, and Willie Whiting, a pastor in Tallahassee. In Jacksonville, Roosevelt Cobbs learned through the mail that he, too, was a felon, though he wasn’t. The same thing happened to Roosevelt Lawrence. Throughout the state, scores of innocent people found themselves on the purge list.

The story got little attention at the time. Only Greg Palast, a fringe, old-school investigator, complete with fedora, was on its trail. With a background in racketeering investigation for the government, Palast broke part of the story while the recount was still going on, but he did it in England, in The Observer. None of the mainstream media in the U.S. would touch it. “Stories of black people losing rights is passé, it’s not discussed, no one cares,” says Palast, whose reporting on the subject appears in his 2002 book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. “A black person accused of being a felon is always guilty.”

How the state ended up with the “felon list” in the first place has its roots in one of the uglier chapters in American history. In 1868, Florida, as a way of keeping former slaves away from the polls, put in its constitution that prisoners would permanently be denied the right to vote unless they were granted clemency by the governor. In those days, and for nearly a hundred years after, a black man looking at a white woman was cause for arrest. The felony clause was just one of many measures taken to keep blacks off the rolls, including literacy tests, poll taxes, and “grandfather clauses,” by which a man could vote only if his grandfather had. All these other methods were effectively ended. But the constitutional provision about former felons remained.

In Florida, there are an estimated 700,000 ex-felons, and 1 in 4 is a black male. Six years ago, Florida state representative Chris Smith, of Fort Lauderdale, sat outside a local Winn-Dixie grocery store trying to get people to register. “A lot of black men that looked like me, around my age, would just walk past me and say, ‘Felony,’ ‘Felony,’ and not even attempt to register to vote,” Smith recalls. Why so many? In the past few years the majority-Republican legislature has upgraded certain misdemeanors to felonies and also created dozens of new felonies that disproportionately affect the urban poor. Intercepting police communications with a ham radio is a felony. So is the cashing of two unemployment checks after the recipient has gotten a new job. State senator Frederica Wilson, like other black lawmakers in Florida, believes these felonies are “aimed at African-American people.”

From the start, there were questions about the felon list. “We were sent this purge list in August of 1998,” says Leon County elections supervisor Ion Sancho, moving feverishly through his cluttered office. “We started sending letters and contacting voters, [saying] that we had evidence that they were potential felons and that they contact us or they were going to be removed from the rolls. Boy, did that cause a firestorm.” One of those letters was sent to Sancho’s friend Rick Johnson, a civil-rights attorney, who was no felon. “Very few felons,” Sancho points out, “are members of the Florida bar.”

Sancho decided to get to the bottom of it. Early in 2000 he sat down with Emmett “Bucky” Mitchell, the Division of Elections’ assistant general counsel, and demanded to know why the list contained so many names of innocent people. “Bucky told me face-to-face that the Division of Elections was working on the problem,” recalls Sancho, “that it was the vendor’s [DBT’s] problem, and that they were telling the vendor to correct it.”

James Lee, chief marketing officer of ChoicePoint, the company that acquired DBT in the spring of 2000, says that the state did just the opposite. “Between the 1998 run and the 1999 run, the office of elections relaxed the criteria from 80 percent to 70 percent name match,” says Lee. “Because after the first year they weren’t getting enough names.”

And so, equipped with a database of felons supplied by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (F.D.L.E.), DBT programmers crouched at their computers and started scooping up names, many of which were only partial matches, from the Florida voter rolls and various other databases. Middle initials didn’t need to be the same; suffixes, such as Jr. and Sr., were ignored. Willie D. Whiting Jr., pastor, was caught because Willie J. Whiting was a felon. First and middle names could be switched around: Deborah Ann, Ann Deborah-same thing. Nicknames were fine-Robert, Bob, Bobby. The spelling of the last name didn’t have to be exact, either. The only thing Willie Steen was guilty of was having a name similar to that of a felon named Willie O’Steen.

DBT project manager Marlene Thorogood expressed concern in a March 1999 e-mail to the Division of Elections that the new parameters might result in “false positives” (i.e., wrongly included people). Bucky Mitchell wrote back, explaining the state’s position: “Obviously, we want to capture more names that possibly aren’t matches and let the [elections] supervisors make a final determination rather than exclude certain matches altogether.” Guilty until proved innocent, in other words.

82 From “The Path To Florida” by David Margolick, Evgenia Peretz, and Michael Shnayerson:

In Miami-Dade that week, a manual recount of undervotes began to produce a striking number of new votes for Gore. There, as in Palm Beach and Broward, fractious Democratic and Republican lawyers were challenging every vote the canvassing board decided. In Miami-Dade, Kendall Coffey, tall and gaunt, was the Democrats’ eyes and ears. As the Gore votes accumulated, he recalls, “panic buttons were being pushed.”

On Wednesday, November 22, the canvassing board made an ill-fated decision to move the counting up from the 18th floor of the Clark Center, where a large number of partisan observers had been able to view it, to the more cloistered 19th floor. Angry shouts rang out, and so began the “Brooks Brothers riot.”

Several dozen people, ostensibly local citizens, began banging on the doors and windows of the room where the tallying was taking place, shouting, “Stop the count! Stop the fraud!” They tried to force themselves into the room and accosted the county Democratic Party chairman, accusing him of stealing a ballot. A subsequent report by The Washington Post would note that most of the rioters were Republican operatives, many of them congressional staffers.

Elections supervisor David Leahy would say that the decision to stop counting undervotes had nothing to do with the protest, only with the realization that the job could not be completed by the Florida Supreme Court’s deadline of November 26. Yet the board had seemed confident, earlier, that it could meet the deadline, and the decision to stop counting occurred within hours of the protest.

83 An overview of who was in the crowd is given in a documentary on the Florida vote and the re-count, Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election:

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

Roger Stone - Unprecedented The 2000 Presidential Election

84 From “Miami’s rent-a-riot” by John Lantigua:

On the surface, it looked like the good people of Miami at their worst again. Last week’s melee at the county offices here – followed by the local canvassing board’s abrupt cancellation of a hand recount – had all the trademarks of Miami’s notorious tantrum politics. Screaming, shoving, fist-waving, intimidation, ties to Elian Gonzalez and even hints of good ol’ Cuban-American political corruption.

But the fact is that the fracas at Miami’s recount headquarters was engineered and carried out by Republican Party operatives imported from the heartland, far from South Florida. They might have reminded viewers of Elian’s Army – and might even have taken lessons from the Cubans – but, by all accounts, the city’s strident conservative exile community was very much in the minority. As one observer put it: “There were no guayaberas. This crowd looked tweedy. They were from out of town.”

Indeed, all on-the-scene reports coming out now indicate that the Miami protest was carried out by rent-a-rioters flown in by the Republican Party. GOP spokespeople have said that at least 750 Republican activists have been sent into South Florida from around the country to oppose the recount, with the party picking up the tab for a number of them. And last Wednesday, when a gaggle of protesters sprang into action in Miami, those efforts seem to have paid off.

London Sunday Times correspondent Tom Rhodes, who was present during the protest, says he overheard one GOP protester on a cellphone in the midst of that political mosh pit bragging that he had tipped off Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove about the rally. “I just told Rove,” Rhodes overheard. As with the presence of Ross and Pyle, the call demonstrated that these weren’t just protesters lured off the streets by the party, but connected, dyed-in-the-wool party operatives.

“There were two or three loud Cubans but most of the people I talked to were white, mostly men, from Oklahoma, Texas, mostly Southern states,” says Sunday Times correspondent Rhodes. “They were talking on cellphones, probably to people nearby, telling them to get in there right away and bring as many people as they could.”

85 From “Miami’s rent-a-riot” by John Lantigua:

The incident – the ugliest single set piece of the Election 2000 epic and possibly the most decisive one – was set in motion by one imported GOP operative: Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., who from an office in that same county building has led the Miami fight against the recount.

On hearing of the decision to move the vote tally, Sweeney uttered a three-word order to his troops: “Shut it down.” Those words were reported by Paul Gigot, who was in the room with GOP operatives, in his Wall Street Journal column Friday.

Within minutes, some two dozen GOP recount observers and other Bush supporters had begun pounding on the doors and windows of the county elections tallying room on the 19th floor of the building. They demanded to be admitted and chanted, “Stop the count. Stop the fraud.” Television cameras showed the protesters trying to force their way into the room.

According to Gigot, who was with Republican leaders at the protest, the GOP forces also threatened to unleash the vociferous Cuban-American community on the recount workers. “One thousand local Cuban Republicans were on the way,” they said. But they never seemed to materialize.

86 From “Contesting The Vote: The Demonstrators” by Dana Canedy With James Dao:

“A group of out-of-state, paid political operatives came to south Florida in an attempt to stop county-wide recounts,” said Representative Peter Deutsch, a Democrat from Fort Lauderdale. Mr. Deutsch plans to meet with top Justice Department officials to discuss the matter on Tuesday. “They crossed state lines and intimidated the counting in a federal election, which is a violation of the Voting Rights Act,” he said.

But the Republicans have said that the Democrats’ characterizations of the protests were distorted.

“This was not a threatening band of armed thugs,” said Emily Miller, a spokeswoman for Mr. DeLay. “They were idealistic, enthusiastic young Republicans who felt they were being shut out, that this was an unfair decision.”

87 From “The Dirty Trickster” by Jeffrey Toobin:

As is customary with Stone, there is some controversy about his precise role. “I was the guy in charge of the trailer, and I coördinated the Brooks Brothers riot,” Brad Blakeman, a lobbyist and political consultant who worked for Bush in Miami, told me. “Roger did not have a role that I know of. His wife may have been on the radio, but I never saw or heard from him.” Scoffing at Blakeman’s account, Stone asserts that he was in the trailer; he said that he had never heard of Blakeman. (Rule: “Lay low, play dumb, keep moving.”)

88 From “New York’s Bush Boys” by Wayne Barrett:

Also participating in these key appointments-as well as filling top patronage jobs in the regional offices of federal agencies like Housing and Urban Development, Health & Human Services, Labor, Environmental Protection, General Services, Transportation, and Interior-will be the leaders of the state’s GOP congressional delegation. While Orange County Congressman Ben Gilman is the senior member of that delegation and will wield significant clout, the congressman with the best connections to the White House is John Sweeney, whose sliver of a district extends from Hyde Park almost to the Canadian border.

The former executive director of the state party, the 45-year-old Sweeney endeared himself to the Bushes by coordinating much of the recount fight in Florida, orchestrating the demonstrations, for example, at the Miami-Dade canvassing board. Denounced on national television as a “thug” by Alan Dershowitz, the prominent Democratic attorney who represented the victims of the Palm Beach butterfly ballot, Sweeney told the Voice: “Pataki, [state GOP chairman] Bill Powers, and myself have pretty good ties with the Bush people and will serve as voices for the state.”

Sweeney is reportedly focused on EPA, HUD, and Labor appointments, having served as Labor commissioner under Pataki before winning his congressional seat in 1998. Though a junior member of the House, Sweeney was recently given his choice of plum committees, choosing Appropriations over Ways & Means. Another Powers ally, Buffalo Congressman Tom Reynolds, is also highly respected by the Bush team.

89 From “Pol vs. Pole” by Michael Tomasky:

John Sweeney, an upstate Republican congressman, became a national hero to his party when he led the infamous charge on the Miami-Dade elections commissioners by ordering the pro-Bush troops to “shut it down!” Sweeney’s directive inspired that hardened assemblage of GOP Capitol Hill staffers to bang on the election commission’s doors, intimidate the commissioners, and halt the recount.

But more recently, “Shut it down!” has taken on another meaning in Sweeney’s life, ever since the late-January night when his car rammed a utility pole on a rural upstate road. What Sweeney managed to shut down that night was power to the homes of several of his constituents and to the Willard Mountain ski resort, stranding skiers aloft on the chairlifts that relied on the juice that ran through the wires Sweeney’s 2001 Jeep Laredo managed to clip.

The story goes as follows. On the night of January 23, Sweeney was driving away from Willard, where he’d passed the evening skiing. Just before 10 p.m., he lost control of his vehicle and hit the utility pole. He told police he was fidgeting with his CD player. He was not hurt. A woman who lives along the road, Donna English — who happens to be a local Republican councilwoman — came out to offer assistance. A state-police trooper arrived on the scene. Live electrical wires lay strewn across Vly Summit Road. A local volunteer-fire-department chief offered to send a crew to the site to direct traffic, a common enough procedure in rural areas. But the fire chief was told by the state police that no assistance was needed. Instead, it was left to English to direct traffic. For an hour and a half. Sweeney was not charged or ticketed, and power was restored in about eight hours’ time (the ski resort managed to get the people in the chairlift down sooner).

From “Congressman’s wife called police” (archived) by Brendan L. Lyons:

CLIFTON PARK — The wife of U.S. Rep. John Sweeney called police last December to complain her husband was “knocking her around” during a late-night argument at the couple’s home, according to a document obtained last week by the Times Union.

The emergency call to a police dispatcher triggered a visit to the couple’s residence by a state trooper from Clifton Park, who filed a domestic incident report after noting that the congressman had scratches on his face, the document states. No criminal charges were filed.

Gaia M. Sweeney, 36, told a trooper that her husband had grabbed her by the neck and was pushing her around the house, according to the document.

Sweeney’s wife, Gaia, placed the emergency call to a police dispatcher in Saratoga County at 12:55 a.m. on Dec. 2, according to the document.

“Female caller stating her husband is knocking her around the house,” a dispatcher wrote. “Then she stated `Here it comes, are you ready?’ and disconnected the call. Upon call-back, the husband stated no problem … asked the wife if she wanted to talk. Wife (caller) then got on the phone and stated that she’s fine and that she’s drunk. Caller sounded intoxicated. She advised that she was endangered for a moment, but everything is fine.”

From “Sweeney’s wife claims he abused her” (archived) by Kate Gurnett:

Gayle Sweeney, about to confront former U.S. Rep. John Sweeney in a divorce case, claims her husband was often verbally abusive and at times physically abused her during their marriage.

She now concedes that a statement she made on the eve of last fall’s election denying marital abuse was “coerced.”

Mrs. Sweeney, who is staying with friends at locations she wants to keep secret, approached the Times Union on Friday and asked to have her story told. She said she was fearful for her life.

Contacted Saturday, John Sweeney flatly denied any physical abuse of his wife.

At the time, the Times Union had obtained a State Police dispatch report confirming long-standing rumors of a domestic incident. The report indicated that Mrs. Sweeney had phoned State Police in December 2005 to report her husband was “knocking her around.”

In the subsequent news conference outside the home of GOP strategist Tom Slater, John and Gayle Sweeney called the report “a fake.”

Mrs. Sweeney defended her husband then. “I did not need to be protected from John…there were no injuries to me,” she declared at the time.

Sweeney blamed Gillibrand, saying she’d leaked bad information and “in her desire for power, she has tried to ruin my marriage, slander my family.”

In fact, Mrs. Sweeney said Friday, she had been injured in the altercation, to the point where her lips were swollen when Sweeney pushed her into a file cabinet. Political advisers wanted her to deny that there had been a violent incident that night, in a last-ditch attempt to save her husband’s campaign, she said.

90 From “FEC tells Sweeney to get his paperwork in order” by Jordan Carleo-Evangelist:

The Center for Public Integrity reported this morning that former U.S. Rep. John Sweeney has incurred the ire of the Federal Elections Commission – first for trying to close his long-dormant campaign account without settling nearly a quarter-million dollars in outstanding debt and, more recently, failing to file a required third-quarter disclosure report.

Sweeney’s campaign account, for which he is listed as the treasurer, has no cash but owes $223,000 to various vendors – including more than $22,000 to Success Magazine in Clifton Park and nearly $17,700 to X Press Info Solutions in Albany for printing, according to the FEC.

As one commenter notes below, Success Magazine rather memorably featured Sweeney on its cover just days after his defeat at the polls.

91 From “The Sweet Smell of John Sweeney”:

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

92 The rise all fall of Freedom’s Watch is described in two articles, “Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group” by Don Van Natta Jr. and “Great Expectations for a Conservative Group Seem All but Dashed” by Michael Luo. The filing for Klayman v. Freedom’s Watch, his suit for copyright infringement.

93 From “Recount Revisited (Part 2)”, a discussion between Recount director Jay Roach and Jonathan Chait; the excerpt is entirely Roach:

To respond to your comments, and to show that, although I love comedy, I did not need to inject much additional humor or absurdity to the actual history of this event, here’s a story about one experience from our direct research that ties into what you’re getting at:

Late in pre-production, Danny Strong and I went to Washington, D.C., and interviewed Brad Blakeman, a very charming, intelligent spinmeister in Florida depicted in the film. He was, by his own account, the man at least partly behind “Sore Loserman,” “Surrender Gorethy,” “The Gorinch Who Stole the Election,” and other demonstration characters and stunts that appeared at rallies outside the Florida Supreme Court and outside counting centers throughout the 36 days of the recount. (Tangentially, Blakeman recently started and ran Freedom’s Watch, a group funded by the right to match the left’s MoveOn.org.)

Blakeman also said he helped organize the edgier “Brooks Brothers Riot” from his roving RV office in Florida. As you see in the film, this protest took place outside the counting rooms in Miami-Dade County. By most accounts, the shouting and shoving and pounding of fists on the doors and windows succeeded in intimidating the canvassing board, who shut down the recount right after the protests, even though the board had approved the counting earlier.

Fascinatingly for me, Blakeman told us there was a very deliberate effort by the Republicans in Florida to “act more like Democrats,” and to take a page out of the book written by the left-wing protestors in the ’60s who used protests and street theater to inject turmoil and chaos into established political processes to make them look flawed, corrupt, or ridiculous (as with the Democratic Convention in 1968 or the attempts to levitate the Pentagon). Blakeman told us that the Republicans were certain that in 2000, the Democrats would “lie, cheat, and steal” to win the Florida recount. So, to “preserve the victory,” the Republicans this time had to pre-emptively take to the streets and make the recount seem messy, chaotic, and even dangerous to the country. The hope was to prevent the recount from flipping the victory to Gore, and if it did, to make the recount’s results seem illegitimate.

For Blakeman, this meant loud protests during the recounting; bull-horn disruptions that shut down speeches by people like Jesse Jackson and other Democrats during rallies; characters like “Cry-Baby Gore”; and catchy slogans and T-shirts at every possible public event. He told us that for him, what the Democrats and the Florida Supreme Court were trying to do was pure farce, so the only proper response was pure farce. He wanted people to connect hand-counting of votes with utter turmoil and dysfunction, and for him, the wackier the whole process seemed, the better.

Many of the reporters we spoke to described the streets of Tallahassee during the 36 days of the recount as being remarkably free of left-wing protestors. As the film portrays, evidently, the “establishment” Democrats felt an impartial recount process should be as free of political, partisan disruption as possible. Again, some have admired their restraint, and believed Al Gore, Warren Christopher, and Bill Daley were acting from high principles connected to higher forms of statesmanship. But in contrast to strategies like Blakeman’s, and because they lost, the Democrats’ approach has been described in most of the books and historical articles as weak, or at the very least, mismatched.

When we walked out of this interview with Blakeman, Danny and I were convinced the satirical tone already evident in his script was valid (along with its great drama and edge-of-the-seat suspense), and that history gave us room for even a little more looniness, seeing as it was an actual strategic element in the conflict.

94 Examples of Blakeman on TV: ” David Schuster Laughs Out Loud at GOP Pundit Brad Blakeman” (MSNBC), “The President is like a Vegas Bookie” (MSNBC), “Obama’s New Off-Shore Drilling Plan a Guise to Push for a Massive Climate Change Bill” (FOX), etc.

95 From Dirty Tricks:

Roger Stone - Pretty Reckless is going straight to hell

96 From “New Group Seeks To Have Justices Voted Off Court” by Linda Kleindienst and Brad Hahn:

The Florida Supreme Court has a new antagonist on its back — put there by Republican Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty.

McCarty has launched a new statewide organization, The Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary, designed to persuade voters to oust Florida’s Supreme Court justices from the bench.

Justices are appointed by the governor, then must face voter approval every six years. No justice has ever been voted off the court, although some have been targeted by organized ouster campaigns.

McCarty sent a fund-raising letter to 350,000 Republican donors across the state this week, asking them to join the effort.

“The court is left-wing, partisan and actively hostile to mainstream ideas and principles. The court doesn’t interpret law — the court writes new laws based on liberal dogma,” McCarty wrote.

No active campaign is planned until closer to the election, she said, but now is the time to raise money because the court is in the spotlight. “Merit retention is something that should be earned, it’s not a gift,” McCarty said.

From “Florida Justice may have a tough campaign in 2002” by Jackie Hallifax:

TALLAHASSEE – Florida voters have never removed a justice from the state Supreme Court. But Florida justices have never before played such a central role in a close presidential race.

In the aftermath of the historic, five-week legal struggle, conservatives long critical of liberal “judicial activism” have a new target: Justice Harry Lee Anstead, who faces voters in two years.

“The spotlight will be on him, I can guarantee it, no doubt about it,” said Republican John Thrasher, a former state House speaker.

Susan Johnson, a Winter Park Republican, voted for Bush and to retain the three justices. She said she got down to their names on the ballot and thought to herself, “I’m sure these guys are fine.”

Johnson said Wednesday she knows how wrong she was.

“This is an extremely liberal court. This is an extremely partisan court. This is an activist bench,” she said.

This week, Johnson formed an organization called Balance to the Bench with Tampa businessman Sam Rashid. The group wants to increase voters’ awareness of judges’ records – and remove Anstead.

“It seems out of balance to me that we have a conservative Legislature, a conservative governor and a conservative Cabinet but an extremely liberal court,” Johnson said.

97 From “Mccarty Could Face $450,000 In Fines” by Prashant Gopal:

Although she was the chairwoman for Take Back Our Judiciary from January to May 2001, McCarty said she never was involved in the group’s finances and didn’t handle any contributions.

McCarty said she didn’t intentionally do anything wrong and has filed a federal court challenge to stop the election commission from fining her.

“I didn’t do any of this except sign my name,” McCarty said of the political committee. “This was basically some sort of a scam that was set up that I was used in. I was duped. My name was used, so I have to take the brunt of it.”

98 From “Mccarty Implores Friends To Help With Legal Bills” by Prashant Gopal:

Now that her year-long battle with the Florida Elections Commission may be over, County Commissioner Mary McCarty is asking friends and donors to help pay her legal bills to the tune of $50,000.

The elections agency slapped McCarty with a $2,000 fine last week for her role as chairwoman of a group that tried to oust justices who sided with Democrat Al Gore during the 2000 presidential recount fight.

Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein said he will contribute $100 to McCarty’s fund and will solicit more through the party’s mailing list.

“From our perspective, she fought the good fight even though she didn’t cross her T’s and I’s properly,” Dinerstein said. “Think of us as friends of Mary and she got caught in something where her legal expenses wound up to be quite extraordinary.”

99 From “Mccarty Oks Fine In Ethics Violation” by Anthony Man:

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty has admitted she violated state law by accepting lobbyist contributions to a legal defense fund and agreed to pay a fine to settle the matter.

If the state Ethics Commission approves a proposed settlement signed by McCarty, her lawyer, and Linzie Bogan, an assistant attorney general who acts as a prosecutor before the commission, the commissioner will pay a $3,750 fine.

Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the county Republican Party, disagreed.

“It’s old news and I think the lightness of the sanction is indicative of how minor and technical the offense was,” he said. “It’s really a non-issue. Mary’s got some great current issues that are going to work for her. I think she’s going to have a very easy re-election.

“She is virtually single-handedly responsible for getting Scripps settled from the commission, and the whole county is aware of it, and she will be rewarded for it as she should be,” Dinerstein said.

100 “Mccarty Arrives At Federal Prison” by Brian Haas describes this event.

101 “Behind the razor wire with contrite Mary McCarty” by George Bennett:

“Public trust is a sacred thing, and I violated that trust. And it’s something I’m ashamed of.”

McCarty, 56, was a hard-charging, tough-talking force on the county commission and in local Republican circles for 18 years before resigning in 2009 and pleading guilty to a federal felony count of honest services fraud.

McCarty’s lawyer, in pleading for leniency before her 2009 sentencing, cited “growing concerns” about the honest services fraud law. But McCarty, asked if she thinks the 2010 Supreme Court ruling will affect her case, said, “I don’t think so, but I don’t know. I’ve kind of left it alone.

“It’s something I’m not really interested in pursuing,” she said.

“I did what I did. I’m paying the price for it. I’ve chosen to take responsibility and hope that people will forgive me.”

When she’s out of prison, McCarty’s sentence calls for three years of probation.

She said she will try to get her civil rights restored so she can vote. Asked if she’d ever run for office again, McCarty said: “No, no, no, no. No.”

“I’m going to hope that there’s some courageous person out there who believes in second chances that’s willing to hire me and give me a second chance,” she said.

“I know a lot of people, obviously. I know how government works, local government. I know a lot of resources. I have a great Rolodex. I’ve been known to be a hard worker.”

Whatever she ends up doing, McCarty said she’ll no longer have the “entitled” attitude that contributed to her downfall.

102 “Mary McCarty leaves Texas prison, enters local halfway house” by George Bennett describes this event.

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