No Comment — December 22, 2008, 10:54 am

A Troubling Black Box Death

Michael Connell was well-known to those who follow the “black box” voting drama. A voting technology expert from Akron, Ohio, Connell faithfully served the Republican Party, and in particular its chief electoral guru, Karl Rove–faithfully, that is, up until a few months ago. Under subpoena and court order, Connell was compelled to testify about his role in managing the 2004 election tabulations in Ohio. In that race, Connell both served as information technology consultant to the Bush-Cheney campaign and, under contract with the state of Ohio, managed the vote tabulation from servers he maintained in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He emerged as the focal witness in the current controversy over voting machine manipulation in Ohio. In 2004 exit polls put Kerry on top, but official results in black box districts, strongly at variance with the exit polls, gave the state, and the race, to Bush. After Connell was reportedly threatened by Karl Rove, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the litigation appealed to Attorney General Mukasey for protection late last summer. Now Connell is dead, the victim of a crash on the approach of his plane to the Akron airport on Friday. The Akron Beacon Journal reports:

Mr. Connell, founder and chief executive of New Media Communications in Richfield, died instantly when the single-prop airplane he was piloting crashed into a vacant house about three miles short of the Akron-Canton Airport. State Highway Patrol Lt. Eric Sheppard said Mr. Connell’s plane was in communication with the airport control tower just before the crash, but he could not detail whether the radio transmissions were calls for help. “We have no reason to believe at this point it was anything other than an unfortunate crash,” Sheppard said.

Connell had recently come into public view in connection with a lawsuit raising allegations of vote fraud in 2004:

…the lawsuit alleges that by 9 p.m. on Election Night 2004, the results were switched from the state server to one set up by Connell’s, in the former Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tenn. It is alleged the same server was used to bundle and remove White House e-mails regarding the 2005 federal prosecutor firing scandal. Mr. Connell tried to fight the subpoena, but a judge ruled against it and he gave a deposition on Nov. 3. It was through the fight over the subpoena that attorneys who brought the case learned that Mr. Connell and his wife had allegedly been threatened with federal prosecution by Rove.

Bob Fitrakis, one of the Columbus attorneys who filed the lawsuit, a former Green Party candidate for president and a political blogger known for his conspiracy theories on election stealing in Ohio, said word of Mr. Connell’s death ”sent a chill down my spine.”

Larisa Alexandrovna also links Connell to another important technology controversy: the “disappearance” of millions of emails connected with Karl Rove from the White House servers. The emails had been repeatedly subpoenaed and the White House had claimed they were “lost,” a response which few are buying.

Mike Connell set-up the alternate email and communications system for the White House. He was responsible for creating the system that hosted the infamous GWB43.com accounts that Karl Rove and others used. When asked by Congress to provide these emails, the White House said that they were destroyed. But in reality, what Connell is alleged to have done is move these files to other servers after having allegedly scrubbed the files from all “known” Karl Rove accounts.

Connell may very well have died as a result of an innocent accident, but the circumstances are such that some observers will never believe that. He will be viewed as “the man who knew too much.”

NYU professor and Harper’s Magazine contributor Mark Crispin Miller discusses the case on today’s Democracy Now.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2016

American Idle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

My Holy Land Vacation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The City That Bleeds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

El Bloqueo

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Vladivostok Station

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ideology of Isolation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The City That Bleeds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing."
Photograph (detail) © Wil Sands/Fractures Collective
Post
Inside the July Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tom Bissell on touring Israel with Christian Zionists, Joy Gordon on the Cuban embargo, Lawrence Jackson on Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising, a story by Paul Yoon, and more

i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.

The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”

Artwork: Camels, Jerusalem (detail) copyright Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Post
Europe’s Hamilton Moment·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"We all know in France that as soon as a politician starts saying that some problem will be solved at the European level, that means no one is going to do anything."
Photograph (detail) by Stefan Boness
[Report]
How to Make Your Own AR-15·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Even if federal gun-control advocates got everything they wanted, they couldn’t prevent America’s most popular rifle from being made, sold, and used. Understanding why this is true requires an examination of how the firearm is made.
Illustration by Jeremy Traum
Article
My Holy Land Vacation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"I wanted to more fully understand why conservative politics had become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson

Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:

36,000

A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.

A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today