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Mike Connell

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Michael (Mike) Louis Connell was President, Chief Political Strategist and CEO of New Media Communications, Inc., a Republican website development and internet services firm based in Richfield, OH. He died December 19, 2008 when the small airplane he was piloting crashed upon approach at the Akron-Canton Airport.[1] He is survived by his wife, Heather and their four children.

New Media's GOP clients are a "'Who's Who' of Republican politics", having provided campaign web services and Internet strategy for Bush-Cheney 2000/2004, as well as Dick Armey, Spencer Abraham for Senate 2000, Heather Wilson for Congress 2000/2002/2004, Rick Santorum for Senate 2000/2006, and John Thune for Senate 2002/2004 to name just a few. New Media also designed GOP.com for the Republican National Committee, RGA.org for the Republican Governors Association, and between two and three dozen state GOP sites.

In April 2001, Connell spun-off GovTech Solutions from New Media to handle its growing list of federal government clients, such as MajorityWhip.gov for Tom DeLay and Johnny Isakson. Business filings in the state of Ohio show that Govtech's founding members were Connell's wife Heather, and the well-known GOP operative and Chairman of the DCI Group, Thomas J. Synhorst. By 2004, Govtech's clients would grow to include more than 20 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, GOP.gov, the web site of the House Republican Conference, and the House Intelligence, Judiciary, Financial Services, Way and Means, and Administration committees. The latter was acquired while House Administration was chaired by former-U.S. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, who was convicted in 2006 of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Early life and career

Michael L. Connell was born on November 30, 1963 near Peoria, IL. While attending the University of Iowa in 1984, Connell "caught the political bug" watching the Iowa Caucuses and in 1987 briefly worked as Finance Director for U.S. Rep. Jim Leach's (R-IL) re-election campaign. In 1988, Connell joined George H.W. Bush's presidential campaign in IA, where he developed and maintained a voter contact database. Later that year he was promoted to Bush campaign headquarters in Washington, DC, tasked with designing a database software system for the Republican National Convention. Soon after Bush was inaugurated in 1989, Connell received a presidential appointment to the U.S. Department of Energy as a legislative affairs specialist.

In 1990, Connell returned to the campaign trail as Director of Voter Programs for Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). However, on November 9, 1990, Connell was fired by Sen. Coats for providing scripts used in a push poll on behalf of another Republican candidate Mike Pence. According to the Associated Press, Connell was fired after Matrixx Marketing of Ogden, Utah called thousands of voters two days before the election. Those who indicated their support for Pence's opponent, Phil Sharp (D-IN), were read Connell's scripts that attacked Sharp on several issues. Pence lost anyway; and Connell lost both his job with Coats for what the senator called "clearly unethical" behavior, and a part-time position with the Indiana State Republican Committee.

Controversy over Ohio voting machine fraud

On September 22, 2008 Connell was served with a subpeona in an Ohio legal case, King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell, in which plaintiffs alleged vote tampering occurred in the 2004 presidential election. Connell had created a web site for the Ohio Secretary of State that presented the results of the 2004 Presidential election in real time, as the votes were being tabulated. Ohio's Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, at that time also served as chair of the Bush-Cheney reelection effort in Ohio. The legal case was filed on Aug. 31, 2006 by Clifford Arnebeck, and other Columbus, Ohio attorneys who charged Blackwell with racially discriminatory practices which included selective purging of voters from the election rolls and the unequal allocation of voting machines to various districts. [2]The lawsuit asked that measures be taken to prevent similar problems from occurring during the subsequent election in November, 2006. On Oct. 9, 2006, the complaint was amended to add charges of various forms of ballot-rigging.

At that time, Connell refused to testify to produce documents relating to the 2004 or 2006 elections, and his lawyers served a motion to quash his subpeona.[3][4]

Connell, a long-time GOP operative, had provided web services for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's 2004 reelection campaign, and had also had provided IT services to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Republican National Committee and many Republican candidates, in addition to creating Ohio’s official, real-time state election website.

On election night of 2006, ePluribus Media researchers reported evidence of the discovery that Ohio's election web site, election.sos.state.oh.us, had been hosted during the 2004 Presidential election, on servers of a company called SmarTech located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[5] They cited Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell's payment of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to Mike Connell's companies for creation of the election returns server system and presented evidence taken in real-time that the November 7, 2006 election was similarly diverted. [6]

The Smartech system serviced scores of RNC hosts in 2006 and the researchers subsequently listed them among hundreds including domains involved in the White House email controversy in which Connell's companies have been implicated. [7] RawStory recently reported similar findings. [8]

On September 17, 2008, a Republican election whistleblower and data security expert named Stephen Spoonamore filed a sworn affidavit filed in federal court in the above voter fraud case in which he stated that Mike Connell "agrees that the electronic voting systems in the US are not secure" and that Connell had told Spoonamore in 2007 "that he (Connell) is afraid some of the more ruthless partisans of the GOP may have exploited systems he in part worked on for this purpose." Spoonamore further explained that "Mr. Connell builds front end applications, user interfaces and web sites." Spoonamore said, "I believe however he knows who is doing that [election rigging] work, and has likely turned a blind eye to this activity. Mr. Connell is a devout Catholic. He has admitted to me that in his zeal to 'save the unborn' he may have helped others who have compromised elections. He was clearly uncomfortable when I asked directly about Ohio 2004." [9]

In July 2008, the lead attorney in the King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell case, Cliff Arnebeck, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey seeking protection for Connell as a witness in the case, saying he had been threatened. Arnebeck wrote,

“We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to "take the fall" for election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law violations.[10]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Jewell Cardwell, John Higgins and David Knox Plane crashes in Lake Twp. near homes; pilot is killed Ohio.com/Akron Beacon-Journal; December 20, 2008
  2. Bob Fitrakis Behind the Firewall: Bush Loyalist Mike Connell Controls Congressional Secrets As His Email Sites Serve Karl Rove Blog posting. July 30, 2008
  3. Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, Raw Story Republican IT consultant subpoenaed in case alleging tampering with 2004 election September 29, 2008
  4. James L. Ervin, Jr., Jeremy Gilman Non-Party Michael Connell's Motion to Quash Legal pleading. 11 pp. September 25, 2008
  5. Luaptifer, et al., of ePluribusMedia Community "Ken Blackwell Outsources Ohio Election Results to GOP Internet Operatives, Again" "ePluribusMedia Community", November 7, 2006
  6. Intranets, et al., of ePluribusMedia Community "Ohio's election website still sent real-time results to GOP mirror server" "ePluribusMedia Community", November 9, 2006
  7. Luaptifer and Todd Johnston, "UPDATE The GOP, GeorgeWBush.com and the line that jumped the Congressional Firewall" "ePluribusMedia Community", March 27, 2007
  8. Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, Raw Story Republican IT consultant subpoenaed in case alleging tampering with 2004 election September 29, 2008
  9. Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet How the GOP Wired Ohio's 2004 Vote Count for Bush to Win September 18, 2008
  10. John Michael Spinelli, Ohio News Rove Threat to Blackmail GOP IT Mastermind Triggers Immunity Request to Ohio AG by Election Lawyers July 24, 2008

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