Two big victories boost Ohio's election protection movement
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
April 5, 2007
In a victory for election protection activists, Ohio's powerful GOP Chair Bob Bennett will be forced to face a public hearing on his removal as Chair of the Cuyahoga (Cleveland) Board of Elections. And in a second triumph, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has agreed, as part of a legal settlement, to take possession of the ballots and other key documents from the disputed 2004 election that gave George W. Bush a second term in the White House.
Brunner has requested the resignations of the entire scandal-plagued Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, which Bennett has chaired. Two Democratic members and one Republican have complied with her request. The BOE's executive director, Michael Vu, previously resigned amidst a cloud of scandal resulting from a mishandled primary election and more than $12 million in budgetary overruns. Two BOE workers have been given 18-month prison sentences for felony convictions stemming from what a government prosecutor called the "rigging" of an officially mandated recount for the 2004 presidential election.
Bennett has issued a legal challenge against his removal. But on Wednesday, April 4, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge John Connor ruled Bennett has to comply with Brunner's call for a public hearing on the matter. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 9.
A long-time GOP power broker, Bennett is a close personal confidante of White House advisor Karl Rove. He has been Rove's point man in Ohio's most populous county, which includes the Democratic voter rich city of Cleveland. A wide array of irregularities there were pivotal in giving Bush his narrow margin of official victory in 2004.