Something fishy is in the air out in Ohio, where the presidential vote recount in being led by the Green Party’s ex-presidential candidate, David Cobb, with minimal support from the Libertarian Party. However well-intentioned Cobb’s pains to make every vote count seem, he may well be pulling a fast one on his supporters and Democrats, who have been battling denial since John Kerry’s loss to George W. Bush last month.
Cobb’s own performance in Ohio can be diagnosed as appalling. And that is putting it mildly. His ticket pulled in a mere 186 write-in votes in the state (Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson were not far behind). This alone should make anybody wonder why Cobb and his staff, which is comprised largely of new recruits, are even dealing with the recount in the first place.
For starters, Cobb’s name did not even appear on the ballot in Ohio, yet his team is the driving force behind Ohio’s 88 county recount. Larry Long, the Executive Director of the Ohio Association of County Commissioners, claims that Cobb’s actions are “an exercise in futility and a ridiculous waste of county tax money.” He ain’t lying either.
Man, too bad Cobb didn’t put this amount of energy into his own 2004 campaign. But for anyone who paid even an ounce of attention to the Greens this past election season, it should come as no surprise that Cobb’s actions serve the interest of the Democratic Party, yet again.
Writing for the Star Tribune on December 2, Cobb publicized that he has a “statutory right to demand a recount of the presidential vote in Ohio.” He claims to want every vote to be counted, and every voice to be heard. Sure he does. But what's he getting in return? And if ol’ Cobb is so concerned with allowing everyone to have a political voice, why did he run a safe-state campaign this year, where he neglected to represent voters in all 50 states? What’s the catch bud?
A clue. Revamped thanks to a plethora of recent donations, Cobb’s newly-minted website boasts that the former presidential hopeful has raised over $250,000 in just eleven days. To put things in perspective, the Cobb presidential campaign only brought in $133,576 as of October 13, 2004.
To top it off, Cobb is now asking for an additional $88,000 to aid in his Ohio endeavor. He claims to need an additional $1,000 per county in the state. And how much of this money is going to the Green Party? “None” claims Green Party headquarters.
So are there additional motivations for Cobb beyond that of aiding the Democrats, who lost the popular vote by over 3.3 million votes? It certainly appears that way.
Cobb’s right-hand man, Blair Bobier, who goes by the title of “Media Director” for the Cobb-LaMarche campaign, has a sordid past.
In 1999, Bobier took the Executive Director post at the Breitenbush Foundation, which was formed by a group of committed environmentalists to over see ecological restoration in Oregon. As Director, Bobier repeatedly told the Board of Directors that he had grants pending with several major foundations.
After numerous complaints from donors of the Breitenbush restoration project, Bobier was fired when no large grants surfaced. During his tremulous tenure at Breitenbush, Bobier not only misled the Board about potential donors, he also allegedly tapped the foundation’s mailing list.
At the time, approximately $155,000 had been raised to support their work through the mailing list. However, only $55,000 was actually spent on restoration efforts. The rest went to what Bobier called “overhead”. To this day, over $20,000 has not been accounted for.
Given that the amount of “overhead” was significant, the Department of Justice of the State of Oregon launched an investigation of the group, as well as the IRS, and levied stiff fines on the Foundation. To this day the co-operative Breitenbush Foundation remains in fiscal crisis mode for its budgetary policies, and has even had to slash employee benefits.
Bobier has since rebounded and made a soft nest for himself within the limbs of the Green Party, where he facilitated Cobb’s dreadful 2004 campaign for president.
So the question must now be raised: are Cobb, Bobier and others raking money off the top of the Ohio recount fund? They won’t comment.
To add more spice to the Green holiday charade, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, the bookkeeper of the Cobb operation, just happens to be Cobb’s girlfriend. And as Cobb’s fancy new website explains, “Monies raised as part of the initial $150,000 have paid for re-hiring staff,” among other things. Sopoci-Belknap, not surprisingly, has been rehired.
Green Party members and others should be outraged at the fiasco. Not only should they be questioning the motives behind Cobb's Ohio recount, but they should also demand financial records to account for all the money that has rolled into the Cobb headquarters since the election ended. For the odor of a con-game in Ohio is fast thickening.
Joshua Frank is author of the forthcoming book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be published by Common Courage Press in early 2005. He welcomes comments at email@example.com.
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