IV with OH attorney Cliff Arnebeck On Mike Connell
Ohio attorney Cliff Arnebeck,
initiator of lawsuit over
2004 Election irregularities,
Mike Connell, a top Republican party Internet strategist who was under investigation on allegations that he was involved in possible tampering with the counting of Ohio ballots in the 2004 presidential election, died in a plane crash on Dec. 19. Connell, who was piloting his own small plane when it crashed near the Akron-Canton Airport, was the chief information technology consultant to former presidential adviser Karl Rove and had created the official state website for posting Ohio's presidential election returns in 2004. The election results in Ohio that year determined the winner of the presidential contest between Republican George Bush and Democrat John Kerry.
As part of a lawsuit initiated by election integrity activists, Connell had given a deposition one day before the 2008 election to Ohio attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis. In the deposition, Connell was asked to describe his work on behalf of the GOP, related to the counting of votes in Ohio after the 2004 election, and his knowledge of former presidential adviser Karl Rove's missing email files sought by Congress.
Connell's death occurred after several sources reported that the Republican strategist's life could be under threat from Karl Rove and others concerned about his testimony in the 2004 election investigation. Arnebeck, having heard about the threats, alerted both U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Ohio Attorney General Nancy Rogers, seeking protection for Connell, but no request for security offered. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Arnebeck, who discusses the circumstances surrounding Mike Connell's untimely death and how his investigation will now proceed.
CLIFF ARNEBACK: We had a news conference July 17th of this year, in which we indicated that we were intending to file a racketeering claim against Karl Rove as the principal perpetrator of a racketeering conspiracy, and we identified Mike Connell as a key witness in that case. And within a few days of that news conference, we got a tip from someone identifying himself as within the McCain campaign, and he reported that Rove had threatened Mike Connell, that if he didn't take the fall and did not implicate Rove in any of the problems in 2004 Ohio, that his wife would be prosecuted. So we're working with a Republican consultant or expert who made some inquiries within his circles, and who came back and said, he believed that the threat was credible. On that basis, we advised the attorney general of the United States, the Ohio attorney general and the federal court chambers that a witness that we'd identified, we had reason to believe was being threatened and so we put the alarm bell out there. The tips continued and the last one indicated that Connell was in danger from Rove. And it was at that point, we were successful in getting a federal court to order Mr. Connell to appear in federal court and then also to submit to a deposition. And all that took place about a month before this crash.
BETWEEN THE LINES: So what happens now to your investigation? And maybe you could specify exactly the kind of evidence that you've accumulated so far to press your claim that Karl Rove, and by extension, Mike Connell, who's now deceased, were involved in tampering with the vote totals in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election?
CLIFF ARNEBACK: We rely upon our expert in terms of Mr. Connell's role, and he's indicating that to the best of his knowledge that Connell was a technical guy, and IT (information technology) guy. He may have been present or he may have been witness to some criminal activities, but that he was not a perpetrator of criminal activities himself. So that his role in our case was as a witness, because of his involvement in so many, practically every aspect of Karl Rove's activities, many of which were criminal. That was his importance as a witness. We believe, based on the evidence that we've got, that Karl Rove is the perpetrator, is the guy who has gone overboard in pursuing election success and trading off as a way of getting that success, trading off fundamental values in our country in terms of pledging, that if they were elected, they would undermine the rule of law and let business have their way and pretty much run wild and crazy, which of, course, they did.
BETWEEN THE LINES: This is potentially one of the largest scandals in American political history if you can get the facts lined up and get this to court. What are your next steps here?
CLIFF ARNEBACK: Well, we're of course trying to get the full involvement of law enforcement -- we believe that the criminal activity that we've identified and we have plenty of evidence to support it. You know, it starts not with the Republican Party, it starts with Karl Rove. The first target of this conspiracy is John McCain's campaign in South Carolina in the 2000 primary. So it's really a criminal enterprise, rather than a Republican enterprise. It becomes a Republican enterprise when Rove gets control of the presidency in 2000. And then, as inside the White House, functioning in a policy role, multiple policy roles engaging in corrupt practices, and basically turning foreign policy and domestic policy into an adjunct of his corrupt sense of partisan political activity, which is really not anything that's part of any American tradition that any of us are familiar with. It's basically using criminal methods to try to establish single-party control.
And also, do this in cooperation with corrupt business enterprises to give them the opportunity to make monopoly profits, to exploit the American public without regulation, without accountability in tort law or regulatory agencies.
• In-depth interview with Cliff Arneback, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Dec. 29, 2008
• "GOP Threat of Another Stolen Election Prompts Lawsuit in Ohio," Interview with author and professor of media and culture Mark Crispin Miller, conducted by Scott Harris
• "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rolling Stone, June 1, 2006
• Witness's Video from the Michael Connell Plane Crash, YouTube, Dec. 23, 2008
• The Velvet Revolution at www.velvetrevolution.us
• Brad Blog at www.bradblog.com
Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines which can be heard on more than 45 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Jan. 16, 2009. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.
This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Jan. 16, 2009, and was excerpted from Scott Harris' 2-hour live show, "Counterpoint" every Monday night from 8-10 p.m. ET, on WPKN 89.5 FM, in Bridgeport, CT. Listen to the webcast on our home page at http://www.btlonline.org
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