The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."The response from Diebold and the Republicans was simply bizarre:
The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.
....In his invitation letter, O'Dell asked guests to consider donating or raising up to $10,000 each for the federal account that the state GOP will use to help Bush and other federal candidates - money that legislative Democratic leaders charged could come back to benefit Blackwell.
They urged Blackwell to remove Diebold from the field of voting-machine companies eligible to sell to Ohio counties.
This is the second such request in as many months. State Sen. Jeff Jacobson, a Dayton-area Republican, asked Blackwell in July to disqualify Diebold after security concerns arose over its equipment.
Diebold spokeswoman Michelle Griggy said O'Dell - who was unavailable to comment personally - has held fund-raisers in his home for many causes, including the Columbus Zoo, Op era Columbus, Catholic Social Services and Ohio State University.They're equating the Republican party to the Columbus Zoo? Saying that it's all right because "the party approached him" and because they can only use the money for Bush? I'm inclined to think that they really were caught with their pants down- if they were prepared for this, there's no way that they'd have such an incredibly lame response.
Ohio GOP spokesman Jason Mauk said the party approached O'Dell about hosting the event at his home, the historic Cotswold Manor, and not the other way around. Mauk said that under federal campaign finance rules, the party cannot use any money from its federal account for state- level candidates.
"To think that Diebold is somehow tainted because they have a couple folks on their board who support the president is just unfair," Mauk said.
(What kind of broken thought process could have possibly prompted that howler about "unfairness"?)
Were the parties reversed, the conservatives would be screaming themselves into unconsciousness. Since it's their guy, though, it's apparently "no harm done", with maybe just enough of a response to innoculate against criticism without actually changing anything. The only way that they can salve their credibility is to demand that Diebold be disallowed from producing voting machines for at least the 2004 election, and to insist upon a voter-verifiable paper trail. Now.