BY Nancy Tobi
For the published version of this article and more about elections in 21st century America, read the newly released Loser Take All, edited by Mark Crispin Miller.
The Myth of Verified Voting: How GOP strategists and Jack Abramoff transformed America's elections and the election reform movement itself
K Street Lobbyists and Election Reform
In 1995, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Republican strategist Grover Norquist launched the "K Street Project." (i) Named for the Capital Hill street housing many lobbying firms, the Project gave lobbyists direct access to Washington lawmakers through weekly policy and strategy meetings. The most infamous K Street lobbyist was Jack Abramoff, who worked for the firm Greenberg Traurig. Abramoff, now in prison, took money from his American Indian tribe clients, and laundered it to Congressional Representatives in return for legislative and policy favors aligned with the Project's political agenda.
But this was not just any money laundering enterprise. Abramoff's dry cleaner was converting money to election fraud.
In 2002, the New Hampshire GOP received three $5,000 checks, just in time to pay $15,600 to a telemarketing company that jammed the phone lines of the Democratic Party's get-out-the-vote campaign in the morning hours of the election.
The three $5,000 checks? One each from two separate Abramoff tribal clients and the third from K Street loyalist Tom DeLay's ARMPAC.(ii)
The phone jamming trick, contributing to GOP Senator Sununu's narrow win, shows the magical rabbits that can pop out of a hat when Capital Hill lobbyists focus their attention on elections.
In its heyday, the K Street Project held election "reform" dead center in its crosshairs.
Project activities like New Hampshire's phone jamming, Ohio's "Coingate" and Tom Delay's Texas "PAC-gate", spun lobbyist money into election fraud gold. K Street masterfully laundered funds to influence election campaigns, policies, and processes around the nation. The Project functioned as one big money-laundering-for-election-fraud apparatus.
K Street's most influential project was the 2002 sweeping election reform known as the "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA), whose architect, former Congressman Bob Ney, is also now in federal prison. (iii) HAVA was brilliantly subversive, spinning money into a sparkling, rich, complex and intricate golden gateway to perpetual election fraud.
HAVA's most benign outcome was to feed billions of dollars to an unsavory e-voting industry, including Greenberg Traurig's client, Diebold Election Systems.(iv) Its most insidious and dangerous outcome was the creation of the myth of verified voting and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a White House agency with unprecedented power over the nation's elections.
Election 2000 – Election Reform 2002
In the aftermath of Election 2000, the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision(v) dealt one terrible blow after another to our nation's democracy. The subversion of the democratic process that began with this decision continued with HAVA and its agency of perpetual subversion: the EAC.(vi)
In 2002, the K Street-influenced Congress passed HAVA with great theatrical fanfare. The American people, still reeling from Election 2000, received it with a wholesale willingness to suspend disbelief.