Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Palast's upcoming New Book


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

 

 

An Excerpt from Billionaires & Ballot Bandits 

How the Election Games are fixed by the Koch gang,
Karl Rove and their buck-buddies


Part 1 - THE GAME

 

In the Beginning

In early 2010, a man named Karl Rove met with a financier known as the Ice Man.  The billionaire had more than his share of legal and political troubles.  Rove told him he had a plan to defeat Barack Obama and seize control of Congress for the GOP.

The Ice Man said, "I'm in," and handed over a check for $20 million.

And Ice Man promised more.

"Karl is the best political mind out there," he said.

Way out there. 2012:  Ballots Up the Congo

How I ended up here, up the Congo River, hunting for missing ballots in the US presidential election, well, that's a story in itself.  I'll get to that.

But first, I have to take you deep into the Heart of Darkness, Washington DC, where, in 2004, this same Karl Rove arranged for his pudgy little poodle to take on a terrible and cruel assignment.  The poodle, Tim Griffin, had the small hands, small mind and small heart perfectly suited for the job of re-electing the President, by hook or crook.   Mostly crook.

Rove, then Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, said,

"We are beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored glasses."

Rove wasn't complaining.  He was boasting.

When voting rights lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. joined our investigations team in 2008 and looked over the documents we'd squirreled out of Republican Party headquarters files, Kennedy said Griffin, "Ought to be in jail." Bobby gets very emotional about justice and law and civil rights.  Runs in the family.

"What they did was illegal and they knew it and they did it anyway."

But Griffin's not in prison, he's in Congress.

And what they did, what we found in the Rove-Griffin documents that got RFK all shook up, we'll get to those.  It's a short book so you won't have long to wait.

Tracking Rove and Griffin and other ballot-bending tricksters, figuring out how they game US elections and snatch the choice away from the electorate, that's my job, my beat for more than a decade, for The Guardian newspapers and BBC Television, London.

I started covering the election games in November 2000 when I was slipped two computer disks from Florida, from the Office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris.  Once the codes on the discs were cracked, I found the names of 95,000 Florida criminals, felons Harris purged from the voter rolls.  Odd:  Most were Black.  I knew they were Black because next to their names was the designation "BLA."  Odder:  When I checked, almost none of them were felons.  Well, that's another story.

I hope you're asking, Why haven't America's own big-shot daily papers and news networks led these investigations?

Yes, I was able to sneak some of it into the side-stream outlets––some of what you'll read here was first printed in Rolling Stone (with my co-author Kennedy). Still, why is exposing electoral coup d'etats have to be slipped in between reviews of Jay-Z and Hootie and the Blow-Fish?

I suspect it's the magic show thing.  No one inside the Great American Circus tent likes to think they're being fooled.  America likes to think of itself as a democracy.  No one really wants to know their ballot has gotten highjacked, boosted, deep-six'd, caged, purged, stuck inside a robot's pocket, fiddled, filched, flimmed or flammed.

But here are the facts, ma'am. In the last US presidential election,

  • 1,090,729 provisional ballots were cast and not counted
  • 1,389,231 ballots were "spoiled," not counted
  • 526,420 absentee ballots were mailed in, but not counted

Add it up:  In the last presidential election, 3,006,380 ballots were cast –– and never counted.

That's the official number I've calculated from the records of the US Elections Assistance Commission.  But, of course, the official numbers are bullshit.  It's worse.  How much worse, it almost doesn't matter.  Three million votes flushed away is ugly enough.

But it's not enough for Rove.  He could add the following to his list of accomplishments, though he can hardly take credit for it all:

In addition to the three million ballots cast and not counted:

  • 1,614,196 would-be voters had their registrations rejected.
  • 300,000 voters already registered were wrongly purged from the rolls, and
  • 300,000 properly registered voters were turned away from the polls when they tried to vote.

Add these up and throw in the three million above and you have 5,220,576 legitimate votes and voters tossed out of the count.

The number of voters wrongly purged and registered voters turned away (mostly for voter ID problems) had to be estimated from official records.  If you have a better number, send it to me.

Quibble with my calculation.  Whatever the exact number is, it's certainly over five million.

And here's what it's not: It's not democracy.  Democracy means letting voters vote then counting their ballots.

In 2012, it will be worse.  Much, much worse.

Here's why.

Rove is not in prison, either.  According to IRS records, he's director of a "non-profit social welfare organization." American Crossroads GPS, tax exempt under section 501c4 of the tax code, aims to improve society's welfare by dragging Democrats out of their seats in Congress and removing the Black one from the White House.

Cleansing Congress and the Presidency of Democrats would certainly end Ice Man's troubles, but $20 million wouldn't do it.  Rove explained he needed a quarter billion dollars.  Ice Man would help him get the rest.

At the same time, friendly rivals to Rove, Kansas oil men, David and Charles Koch, were gathering another quarter billion.

Altogether, a half billion dollar political weapon was being collected by methods which had been tested for years though well covered from the eyes of the law.  Now the law had changed and the weapon would be detonated in the open air in the 2012 election.

This investigation will take us from an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma to 8-Mile, Detroit, the Arctic, Chicago's South Side, up the Congo River and the untamed wilderness of Wall Street.

Money is the means, not the plan.  And the plan's legality, well, we'll see.

"Why Obama is Likely to Lose in 2012"

So what was Rove's brilliant strategy?  And why would it take a quarter billion dollars?  It was too good for Rove to keep it a secret, though it had to be wrapped in a bit of code.  "Why Obama is Likely to Lose in 2012," is the title of a column Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year.

It isn't a prediction:  this is the plan to make sure Obama will lose.  That's fine with me––if Rove prefers vanilla to chocolate, hey, it's a free country.

But how Rove plans to take Obama down is contained in the sub-head, and it gave me the chills...

*****

You can pre-order BILLIONAIRES & BALLOT BANDITS for a donation and I'll send you a signed copy as soon as it's released this summer.

Greg Palast is the Author of the recently published, acclaimed book Vultures' Picnic and the New York Times Bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Palast has investigated US election irregularities since 2000 where he first uncovered Katherine Harris' purge of thousands of innocent black Floridian voters from the voter rolls, thus handing the White House to George W. Bush.
Palast has since reported extensively on election issues for
BBC Newsnight, the UK Guardian papers, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, Democracy Now! and Rolling Stone.

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