Diebold Whistleblower Charged! -- Scare Tactic Case?
A word processor accused of stealing damaging documents about electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold Election Systems was arraigned Tuesday on three felony counts.
Stephen Heller was charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with felony access to computer data, commercial burglary and receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty.
"It's a devastating allegation for a whistle-blower," said Blair Berk, Heller's attorney. "Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections."
The charges arise from Heller's alleged disclosure two years ago of legal papers from the Los Angeles office of international law firm Jones Day, which represented Diebold at the time. Heller was under contract as a word processor at Jones Day.
The documents included legal memos from one Jones Day attorney to another regarding allegations by activists that Diebold had used uncertified voting systems in Alameda County elections beginning in 2002.
In the memos, a Jones Day attorney opined that using uncertified voting systems violated California election law and that if Diebold had employed an uncertified system, Alameda County could sue the company for breaching its $12.7-million contract.
The documents also revealed that Diebold's attorneys were exploring whether the California secretary of state had the authority to investigate the company for alleged election law violations.
A subsequent report by the secretary of state's office found that Diebold had marketed and sold its systems before gaining federal qualification and had installed uncertified software on election machines in 17 counties.
The company's AccuVote-TSx model was banned in May 2004, but Diebold machines were conditionally recertified by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson last week for use in 17 counties for this year's elections.
McPherson ordered Diebold to make long-term programming changes and submit the modifications to a federal panel for recertification.
Although state law protects whistle-blowers from retaliation by their employers, they can still be criminally prosecuted, said Tom Devine, legal director at the Washington, D.C.-based Government Accountability Project.
"It's very rare that it's successful," he said. "It's a tactic where the primary goal may be to scare other would-be whistle-blowers rather than a realistic attempt to obtain a conviction."
The Brad Blog has a lot of links to new info on Diebold machines and more here
Meanwhile, one source of local TV News, those whom I castigate most of all, is reporting on the possibility of their county losing money if it doesn't install 'voting machines" by May.
To help the locals out, the news program and its sister station check out the backgrounds of various voting machine companies. Read at link (No registration required, and no pop up ads. It's hosted at Yahoo).
Pennsylvania must not have enough car chases to keep their local news people busy, but, hey, haven't they heard Britneyisthenewoutgirlonlynowshe'sbeingniceandlosing weightsomaybethey'llletherbackin