A FIERY DEATH FOR A GOP INSIDER
MMICHAEL CONNELL DIED FRIDAY EVENING and answers to some of the most disturbing questions surrounding modern-day election rigging may have perished in the fiery plane crash with him. Connell was known by many as an important figure in a wide-ranging investigation into election fraud. He was served with a subpoena in Ohio on Sept. 22, 2008, but at least at first, he fought the subpoena claiming that he could not testify because the subpoena "seeks confidential, trade secrets, and/or proprietary information,” among other things.
It has been rumored that he was negotiating a plea deal with Ohio and Federal prosecutors in exchange for unveiling the truth about corruption in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere during the 2004 Presidential election. This claim has not been verified. He is also known to be beloved by many within his circle of family, friends, and business associates.
In what may have been simply a tragic accident, the seasoned pilot died less than three miles from the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio. The weather at the time was cold but otherwise calm.
If the reports are to be believed, Connell was friends with Karl Rove, though some published reports — including from UPI and other mainstream press — broadcast claims from attorney Cliff Arnebeck that the two may have been at odds of late.
Connell founded New Media Communications, based in Cleveland, and was the CEO of GovTech Solutions, based in Akron, Ohio. He was hired in Ohio by Republican Secretary of State Kenneth J. Blackwell, whose infamy as Ohio’s top election official ended when Blackwell was defeated — in a landslide — in the Governor’s race in Ohio in 2006. Connell’s companies also provided Internet strategy for dozens of high-profile political candidates and national organizations including the Republican National Committee, the National Rifle Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, Small Business Survival Committee, Internet Tax Fairness Coalition and many more.
Connell's firm famously served the Bush-Cheney campaign, designed the George W. Bush website in 2000, “as well as the site and online tools of the 2004 campaign,” according to his website. He also was reported to have been involved with the so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” in 2004, and gwb43.com.
The Columbus Free Press reported last evening “various threats have been repeatedly reported involving Connell and other IT experts close to the GOP.” According to the report, while Connell remained the IT supervisor for six Congressional committees, he “was recently deposed by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck for his role in the 2004 vote count. He was also questioned about his involvement in the GOPs IT operations and his access to Rove's e-mail files,” which as you may recall, mysteriously disappeared despite multiple attempts to attain their release. It was never proven that Connell had any involvement with the disappearance of these emails, but one assumes that identifying what happened to the Rove emails would have been one of the major objectives in the lawsuits brought forth by Arnebeck.
According to Op-Ed News, “Connell was close to Karl Rove, but Rove reportedly had threatened him of late.” The article also said that attorney Arnebeck had sent a letter to US Attorney General Michael Mukasey in July of this year, which stated the following: “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.”
Judge Mukasey was nominated to be Attorney General by President George W. Bush on September 17, 2007.
Arnbeck had also represented clients who brought suits against Karl Rove in the state of Georgia and sent a letter to Secretary of State Karen C. Handel requesting a public records request, stating, “We are in the process of preparing a racketeering claim under the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act against Karl Rove as the principal perpetrator, and other individuals acting in association with him, to corrupt elections in the United States over the course of this decade.”
UPI also reported on Connell by saying, “He was a figure in an ongoing controversy about alleged vote flipping in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. In October, U.S. Judge Solomon Oliver of Ohio ordered Connell to testify in a lawsuit in connection with charges that electronic voting apparatus in some Ohio districts flipped votes to Bush from Democratic nominee John Kerry.”
They also repeated the claim from Cliff Arnebeck that Connell and his family had been threatened in connection with Connell's possible testimony.
"I have informed court chambers and am in the process of informing the Ohio Attorney General's and US Attorney's offices in Columbus for the purpose, among other things, of seeking protection for Mr. Connell and his family from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness," Arnebeck said.
Whether that happened or not, Connell’s death will likely silence a major investigation of possible voter fraud. It could also put the U.S. election system in grave danger as the threat of technological chicanery menaces the most basic tenet of democracy. It may also end any meaningful investigation into whether Karl Rove planned or executed any alleged voter fraud in the 2000 and 2004 elections.
While it may cause pain to the loved ones and trusted friends he left behind, more questions will likely be raised about the timing of the fiery crash that killed the GOP confidant and insider. We may never know if he was an innocent businessman caught in the fury of anti-Bush sentiment, still a trusted friend on ‘Team Rove,’ — or whether he was about to become one of the world’s most visible whistleblowers.