Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Diebold giving it away

Journalists giving money to Presidential candidates has long been frowned upon. I understand why -- they work in the public trust, they're supposed to be objective (well, they're supposed to be), and their work should be as unaffected by their own biases as possible, however difficult that may be.

I think similar expectations should be made of those those whose business it is to create the technology with which we conduct our elections. There's a similar role that the men and women running those companies play in working in the public trust, and it smells more than a little funny for them to be giving money to political candidates.

Especially when they're giving them to just one party.

I never took that seriously the Diebold quote about "giving Ohio to George W. Bush" as an actual promise to commit fraud through the voting machines. Thought that was a little bit of a reach from my lefty breatheren.

But I will say that I had no idea how extensive Diebold's giving to George W. Bush was until I looked here. (There's another list of them here, too, in a Google cache.)

It wasn't just Wally O'Dell, the President and Chairman. Who did give $4,000 to George W. Bush's re-election campaign.

It was Bart Frazzita, Vice President of the Security Division, who gave $2,000.

It was Gregory Geswein, Chief Financial Officier, who gave $4,000 to George W. Bush.

It was Michael Hillock, President of the International operations of Diebold, who gave $2,000.

It was Larry Ingram, Vice President in charge of Global Procurement, who gave $2,000.

It was Chuck Scheurer, Vice President of Corporate Human Resources, who gave $2,000.

It was Thomas Swidarski, Senior Vice President of Strategic Development and Global Marketing, who gave $2,000.

It was Jeffrey Van Cleve, Vice President of the Diebold Credit Corporation, who showed a little restraint, and only gave $1,500. C'mon, Jeff, you're never going to rise in this company if you're cheap.

And that's not even going into soft money, where Robert Mahoney, the Chair Emeritus, gave $15,000 to the RNC in 2,000, and where Wally O'Dell gave $3,950 to the RNC in 2001 and $2,015 to the RNC's Republican National State Elections Committee.

I don't hold it against people for giving money and supporting a political candidate of their choice. That's our system, flawed as it can be sometimes. (Just look at the Millionaire's Club the Senate has turned into, Democrats and Republicans alike.)

But the fact that the support of George W. Bush was so extensive in the leadership and management of one of the two or three top companies responsible for election technology in this country ... doesn't it just feel a little, y'know, weird to you?