I've always kept the boy out of the story, as there's been no reason to include him in this drama.I only mention him because the Renner article claims that I "handed Mike's daughter a slip of paper asking Heather to meet [me] in a nearby park." But that's the least of it.
The Cleveland Scene piece then claims that "the cloak-and-dagger approach frightened Heather so much that Connell called his lawyers and had them prepare a restraining order." Heather never spoke to me, according to that piece.
That's a total fabrication. The only female I encountered on that day was Heather Connell, who showed up at the park not five minutes later--alone, to meet a stranger in the park.
She wasn't scared of me or my "approach," and had no reason to be scared. Up to that point, I had never called her home, or emailed her, or sent her postcards or anything like that. This one meeting was my first and only contact with her.
MCM: So what did you two talk about? The Cleveland Scene article implies that you told her about Mike's involvement with vote-flipping for the Bush Republicans.
LA: That's just not true, and I don't if that's a screw-up by James Renner, or if Heather Connell has, since her husband's death, become confused, which would of course be understandable. In any case, I ought to have been asked about this claim, and never was.
Now, let me describe the park a little, as it reconfirms how un- afraid of me Heather Connell was. The place was in the middle of nowhere, and deserted. I saw no swings or kids or moms with babies or old folks out walking.
We sat down at a picnic table, and I told her who I was. I then explained that I'd been worried about calling in advance, and even about coming to her home, because of the alleged threats. I didn't want to make things harder for her or her husband. But I had little choice, I said, because she was a stay-at-home mom--indeed, that's what she called herself-- and so there was no other place where I could contact her.
Then I went into the Siegelman and Minor prosecution stuff that I'd been working on. She was unfamiliar with those cases. I laid out the connections between those cases and her company, and said I had some questions. We did not talk about vote-flipping, since that was not why I was there. So that did not come up at all.
MCM: What did Heather say about her company's connection to the Siegelman and Minor cases?
LA: Well, that's the thing. I had the incorporation documents with me--I'd obtained them in Columbus the day before--with her name and Tom Synhorst's name on them.
And she was shocked that I referred to GovTech as "her company." She was a stay-at-home mom, she said--that she and Mike agreed that her name should be on the documents,because if he should ever leave her, or if something happened, "she wanted half."
I said that this was all well and good, but since she was the only Connell listed, it sort of made no sense. And I also said that I still couldn't understand Tom Synhorst's role in this. She said that she had introduced him to her husband, but that that he'd left the company years earlier. I actually think she had confused Synhorst with Randy Cole [former CEO of GovTech] whom she did introduce to Mike. I don't see how she would have known a character like Synhorst on her own. So I let that go.
MCM: What happened next? Can you tell us more of what she said?
LA: Well, it turned a bit surreal. Remember that we're sitting in this isolated park. There was her car, and one other vehicle--a pickup truck--parked across the seat from where we sat. (I had a colleague with me, who had dropped me off and drove my car away.)
Heather Connell and I were sitting not far from that pickup truck. So she and I are talking, and out of nowhere some police cars roar up with their sirens going. My first thought was to wonder if her son had called the cops. Why else would they be there?