Saturday, July 16, 2005

 

Diebold, Blackwell accused of pay-play scheme

The capital city is being rocked by a story this morning in the Columbus Dispatch in which Matt Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, says a representative of Diebold paid $10,000 in January 2004 to the Franklin Co. GOP in an attempt to sway the the county's decision on voting machines. Damschroder, a Republican and former county chair of the party, also claims that the Diebold rep, Pat Gallina, boasted about a $50,000 donation he had written to a political group associated with Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Pasquale "Pat" Gallina arrived unannounced, Damschroder said.

"I’m here to give you $10,000," the elections director recalls Gallina saying. "Who do I make it payable to?"

"Well, you’re certainly not going to make it out to me," Damschroder says he told Gallina. "But I’m sure the Franklin County Republican Party would appreciate a donation."

Gallina wrote the check, and Damschroder says he took it on Jan. 9, 2004. That weekend, Damschroder said, he mailed the check to the county party.
Damschroder's revelation's were made to an assistant county prosecutor amid an ongoing fight in the state over voting maching suppliers involving Diebold and ES&S.

Damschroder's allegations could be severely damaging to Blackwell, a candidate in the 2006 govenor's race.
In May, he said, Gallina called him and bragged about a $50,000 check he had written to Blackwell’s "political interests."

"Isn’t it great that Diebold and the county are going to do business?" he says Gallina asked him.

Damschroder said Gallina went on to tell him that he had met with Norm Cummings, a Blackwell campaign consultant, in Washington, D.C., to work out a deal: Diebold would cut the price of its electronic voting machines to $2,700 each if the company had a guarantee that it would receive all of the state’s business.

"Then Gallina tells me that he then wrote a check for $50,000 to Blackwell’s political interests."

Carlo LoParo, Blackwell’s spokesman, called Damschroder’s assertions "wild accusations" and said, "You can’t point me to anything that substantiates what he says."

LoParo acknowledged that Gallina had contributed to Blackwell’s campaigns since 1998 — Blackwell received $8,000 from Gallina during that period — but denied that any of Blackwell’s campaign interests received $50,000 from Diebold or Gallina. Blackwell is running for governor.

"I have no idea why he (Damschroder) would say anything like that other than that every encounter we’ve had with Matt Damschroder has shown a little bit about his character," LoParo said.

Gallina would not say yesterday whether he wrote a $50,000 check to any organization associated with Blackwell. He would say only that all of his donations are public record. He would not say whether he wrote a $50,000 check to a 527 organization, which does not have to report donations, or to a political fund that has not yet been required to disclose its financial statements this year.
The news may also hurt the career of Damschroder. The county election board is considering suspending him and the county prosecuttore is investigating if he broke any laws.

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