Tuesday, August 31, 2004
[A]n investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that as Assembly Majority Leader, [Secretary of State] Shelley had sponsored a $500,000 grant to a non-profit foundation run by Shelley political associates for the construction of a community center in San Francisco that was never built. That foundation made payments for highly questionable purposes to certain individuals whom within days made uniform $25,000 contributions to the Shelley for Secretary of State campaign in 2002.
Shelley has returned the $125,000 (5 x $25,000) to the State of California, put another $80,000 in escrow pending investigation of two other contributions, sworn to "get to the bottom of this" and gone on vacation.
Bev Harris of BlackboxVoting is understandably upset. Of all the states, California—through Secretary of State Shelley—has been the toughest on Diebold, maker of touchscreen voting machines. Harris fears there is an orchestrated attempt to discredit Shelley.
The charges against Shelley are significant (some of them, anyway; others seem ridiculous, and the onslaught does seem somewhat orchestrated)....
The motives to discredit and hobble Shelley ... are staggering: In financial terms, Shelley's groundbreaking reforms put the entire e-voting industry at risk. According to GSA estimates, there is $2.3 billion at stake nationally in HAVA-reimbursed voting machine purchases, just for FY 2003 and 2004. Another HAVA bonanza is expected in 2005-06.
If real voting reforms are implemented — especially auditing procedures — voting machine inaccuracy may be exposed, putting all four major vendors at risk for consumer lawsuits if their machines fail to count accurately, exposed by the beefed-up audits Shelley wants to require.