View Full Version : Diebold Execs Gave To GOP Despite Ban

12-08-2005, 03:51 PM
Diebold execs gave to GOP despite ban


Julie Carr Smyth
Thursday, December 08, 2005

-- Money from three Diebold executives began trickling into two Republican campaigns last August, just two months after the voting-machine maker banned political giving by a handful of its top brass.

Mike Jacobsen, a spokesman for the manufacturer based in Green, Ohio, expressed regret over the donations, which totaled $1,400 to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine and state Sen. Kirk Schuring of Canton, according to campaign finance reports.

But he said the three officials who gave were not subject to the 2004 ethics policy changes, which applied only to the chief executive, Walden O'Dell; president; chief financial officer; and vice president in charge of Diebold Election Systems.

News of the donations came as a voluminous election-reform bill was set to clear a key Ohio Senate committee late Wednesday, bearing evidence of continued political strife over what constituted the worst problems in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004.

Republican lawmakers, indignant over suggestions that President Bush's victories are somehow suspect, used the measure to crack down on potential abuse of the election system.

The proposal - likely to win Senate approval soon - mandates that all voters show identification to vote, makes it tougher to get a constitutional amendment on Ohio's ballot, and severely limits the scope of voter registration drives.

Democrats left the room still insisting the biggest problems in the past two national elections were voter disenfranchisement and unreliable technology, for which they see Diebold as a poster child.

Cleveland NAACP director Stanley Miller blasted the voter-ID provision as harking back to the Jim Crow laws of the old South.

"We do not believe this body intends to try to take us back in time, but the lack of trust and skepticism that exists today makes these types of changes tough to sell," he testified.

Opponents also cited a recent study by the watchdog U.S. General Accounting Office, which identified significant vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines and pushed for more thorough federal standards, machine testing and monitoring for the systems.

But Ohio's GOP lawmakers extracted a House-added provision in the bill calling for random recounts in counties where new electronic machines are used, satisfied that current law requires ample cross-checking of the vote.

Diebold's O'Dell drew national criticism in 2003 for his involvement in President Bush's re-election campaign, and for his pledge in a fund-raising letter to help "Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president."

Isac Tabib, vice president of technology and IT services for a New York-based Diebold security subsidiary, made the largest donation: a $1,000 check to DeWine in June.

A pair of Ohio-based executives, Paul Feaser and Chuck Scheurer, gave Schuring - whose district includes the company's headquarters - four donations totaling $400 between last August and this June, according to campaign reports. Feaser is Diebold's director of security, and Scheurer, who has since retired, was vice president of human relations.

Jacobsen said Diebold purchased Tabib's company, Antar-Com Inc. of White Plains, in August 2004 and all employees there may not know of the strong desire at headquarters against political participation.

"Quite frankly, he didn't do anything wrong. The policy doesn't reach out to that level of associate," he said.

"Clearly, the last thing we want to do is step on anybody's constitutional rights. At the same time, we wanted to send a strong message that it would be good if employees didn't give."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

jsmyth@plaind.com, 1-800-228-8272