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:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2015

Dressed to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wrong Prescription?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Travel Day

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fugue State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One Day Less

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Avian Voices·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The mockingbird’s bath is an orgy of thrashing and writhing about. When he has finished, one of the innocents alights on the rim of the basin and looks with disbelief at the thimble of water remaining.”
Illustration by Eric Hanson
[Browsings]
Before the War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I’m worried that what the Houthis did to push Yemen into a civil conflict in September 2014, the Saudis may end up doing again when they end their campaign by eliminating the Houthis.”
Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Speakeasy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In order to understand how Marty’s could survive as an institution, I returned a year after my first visit to spend a week at what was sure to be the world’s bleakest comedy club.”
Photograph by Mike Slack
Post
The Lost Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I had first encountered some of these volumes—A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Giver—as a child, and during adolescence, they registered as postcards from a homeland recently abandoned.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Wrong Prescription?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whatever the slogans suggested, the A.C.A. was never meant to include everyone.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery

Estimated cost of the environmental damage caused each year by the world’s 3,000 largest companies:

$2,200,000,000,000

Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.

Beekeepers began extracting 1 million honeybees living beneath the siding of a house in New York State.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today