[sixties-l] Bushs Conspiracy to Riot (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Tue Aug 13 2002 - 19:59:30 EDT

  • Next message: Ted Morgan: "[sixties-l] [Fwd: "Hidden Wars"/Test-sale at Barnes & Noble]"

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2002 23:09:51 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Bushs Conspiracy to Riot

    Bush's Conspiracy to Riot


    August 5, 2002

    More than three decades apart, two political riots influenced the outcome
    of U.S. presidential elections. In 1968, protests at the Democratic
    National Convention in Chicago hurt Democrat Hubert Humphrey and helped
    Republican Richard Nixon eke out a victory. On Nov. 22, 2000, the so-called
    "Brooks Brothers Riot" of Republican activists helped stop a vote recount
    in Miami, and showed how far George W. Bush's supporters were ready to go
    to put their man in the White House.

    But the government reaction to the two events was dramatically different.
    The clashes between police and Vietnam War protesters in 1968 led the Nixon
    administration to charge seven anti-war radicals with "conspiring to cross
    state lines with the intent to incite a riot." The defendants, who became
    known as the Chicago Seven, were later acquitted of conspiracy charges, in
    part, because the protests were loosely organized and because solid
    documentary evidence was lacking.
    After the Miami "Brooks Brothers Riot" named after the protesters' preppie
    clothing no government action was taken beyond the police rescuing several
    Democrats who were surrounded and roughed up by the rioters. While no legal
    charges were filed against the Republicans, newly released documents show
    that at least a half dozen of the publicly identified rioters were paid by
    Bush's recount committee.
    The payments to the Republican activists are documented in hundreds of
    pages of Bush committee records released grudgingly to the Internal
    Revenue Service last month, 19 months after the 36-day recount battle
    ended. Overall, the records provide a road map of how the Bush recount team
    brought its operatives across state lines to stop then-Vice President Al
    Gore's recount efforts.
    The records show that the Bush committee spent a total of $13.8 million to
    frustrate the recount of Florida's votes and secure the state's crucial
    electoral votes for Bush. By contrast, the Gore recount operation spent
    $3.2 million, about one quarter of the Bush total. Bush spent more just on
    lawyers $4.4 million than Gore did on his entire effort.
                               Extended Deadline
    The new evidence was submitted by the Bush recount committee to the IRS
    under an extended deadline for disclosures of soft-money spending by
    so-called "527 committees," which are not directly related to a candidate's
    campaign. Bush lawyers had argued that they were not obligated legally to
    disclose how they had raised and spent their money.
    The Bush committee finally reversed itself and filed the records on July
    15. The records were released to the public on the IRS Web site in late
    July. Gore's committee submitted its records in line with the original IRS
    The documents show that the Bush organization put on the payroll about 250
    staffers, spent about $1.2 million to fly operatives to Florida and
    elsewhere, and paid for hotel bills adding up to about $1 million. To add
    flexibility to the travel arrangements, a fleet of corporate jets was
    assembled, including planes owned by Enron Corp., then run by Bush backer
    Kenneth Lay, and Halliburton Co., where Dick Cheney had served as chairman
    and chief executive officer.
    Only a handful of the Brooks Brothers rioters were publicly identified,
    some through photographs published in the Washington Post. Jake Tapper's
    book on the recount battle, Down and Dirty, provides a list of 12
    Republican operatives who took part in the Miami riot. Half of those
    individuals received payments from the Bush recount committee, according to
    the IRS records.
    The Miami protesters who were paid by Bush recount committee were: Matt
    Schlapp, a Bush staffer who was based in Austin and received $4,276.09;
    Thomas Pyle, a staff aide to House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, $456; Michael
    Murphy, a DeLay fund-raiser, $935.12; Garry Malphrus, House majority chief
    counsel to the House Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice, $330;
    Charles Royal, a legislative aide to Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. $391.80; and
    Kevin Smith, a former GOP House staffer, $373.23.
    Three of the Miami protesters are now members of Bush's White House staff,
    the Miami Herald reported last month. They include Schlapp, who is now a
    special assistant to the president; Malphrus, who is now deputy director of
    the president's Domestic Policy Council; and Joel Kaplan, another special
    assistant to the president. [See Miami Herald, July 14, 2002]
    The Bush committee records show, too, that Bush's operation paid for the
    hotel where the Republican protesters celebrated after the Miami riot at a
    Thanksgiving Day party. At the party, the activists received thank-you
    phone calls from Bush and Cheney, and were serenaded by crooner Wayne
    Newton, singing "Danke Schoen," German for thank-you very much. [Wall
    Street Journal, Nov. 27, 2000; Consortiumnews.com's "W's Triumph of the Will"]
    The IRS records show that the Bush recount committee paid $35,501.52 to the
    Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the party was held.
                               The House of Masquerades
    A number of miscellaneous expenses, reported by the Bush recount committee,
    also appear to have gone for party items, such as lighting, sound systems
    and even costumes. Garrett Sound and Lighting in Fort Lauderdale was paid
    $5,902; Beach Sound Inc. in North Miami was paid $3,500; and the House of
    Masquerades, a costume shop in Miami, had three payments totaling $640.92,
    according to the Bush records.
    The Brooks Brothers Riot carried live on CNN and other networks marked a
    turning point in the recount battle. At the time, Bush clung to a lead that
    had dwindled to several hundred votes and Gore was pressing for recounts.
    The riot in Miami and the prospects of spreading violence were among the
    arguments later cited by defenders of the 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
    on Dec. 12, 2000, that stopped a statewide Florida recount and handed Bush
    the presidency.
    Backed by the $13.8 million war chest, the Bush operation made clear in
    Miami and in other protests that it was ready to kick up plenty of
    political dust if it didn't get its way.
    A later unofficial recount by news organizations found that if all legally
    cast ballots in Florida had been counted regardless of which kinds of
    chads were accepted, whether punched-through, hanging or dimpled Gore
    would have won Florida and thus the presidency. Gore also won the national
    popular vote, defeating Bush by more than a half million votes, making Bush
    the first popular-vote loser in more than a century to be installed in the
    White House. [Consortiumnews.com's "So Bush Did Steal the White House"]
                               Across State Lines
    The evidence also is clear that the Bush campaign organized the
    transportation of Republican activists across state lines into Florida. As
    early as mid-November, the Bush campaign called on activists to rush to
    Florida and promised to pay their expenses. "We now need to send
    reinforcements," the Bush campaign said in an appeal to Republicans on Nov.
    18, 2000. "The campaign will pay airfare and hotel expenses for people
    willing to go." [See Tapper's Down and Dirty.]
    These reinforcements many of them Republican staffers from Capitol
    Hill added an angrier tone to the dueling street protests already underway
    between supporters of Bush and Gore. The new wave of Republican activists
    injected "venom and volatility into an already edgy situation," wrote Tapper.
    "This is the new Republican Party, sir!" Brad Blakeman, Bush's campaign
    director of advance travel logistics, bellowed into a bullhorn to disrupt a
    CNN correspondent interviewing a Democratic congressman. "We're not going
    to take it anymore!"
    Around the country, the conservative media apparatus, led by talk show host
    Rush Limbaugh and pro-Bush pundits, rallied the faithful with charges that
    a hand recount was fraudulent and amounted to "inventing" votes.
    Bush himself did nothing to temper the inflammatory rhetoric. Nor did he
    urge his supporters to respect the legally sanctioned vote counting.
    Instead, Bush's recount representative, James Baker, and Bush himself
    denounced the Florida Supreme Court, which had ordered that recount results
    be included in the official vote tallies. Bush accused the court of abusing
    its powers in a bid to "usurp" the authority of the legislature.
                               The Battle of Miami
    On Nov. 22, 2000, after learning that the Miami canvassing board was
    starting an examination of 10,750 disputed ballots that had previously not
    been counted, Rep. John Sweeney, a New York Republican, called on
    Republican troops to "shut it down," according to Down and Dirty. Brendan
    Quinn, executive director of the New York GOP, told about two dozen
    Republican operatives to storm the room on the 19th floor where the
    canvassing board was meeting, Tapper reported.
    "Emotional and angry, they immediately make their way outside the larger
    room in which the tabulating room is contained," Tapper wrote. "The mass of
    'angry voters' on the 19th floor swells to maybe 80 people," including many
    of the Republican activists from outside Florida.
    News cameras captured the chaotic scene outside the canvassing board's
    offices. The protesters shouted slogans and banged on the doors and walls.
    The unruly protest prevented official observers and members of the press
    from reaching the room. Miami-Dade county spokesman Mayco Villafana was
    pushed and shoved. Security officials feared the confrontation was spinning
    out of control.
    The canvassing board suddenly reversed its decision and canceled the
    recount. "Until the demonstration stops, nobody can do anything," said
    David Leahy, Miami's supervisor of elections, although the canvassing board
    members would later insist that they were not intimidated into stopping the
    recount. [Down and Dirty]
                               A Sample Ballot
    While the siege of the canvassing board office was underway, county
    Democratic chairman Joe Geller stopped at another office seeking a sample
    ballot. He wanted to demonstrate his theory that some voters had intended
    to vote for Gore but instead marked an adjoining number that represented no
    As Geller took the ballot marked "sample," one of the Republican activists
    began shouting, "This guy's got a ballot!"
    In Down and Dirty, Tapper writes: "The masses swarm around him, yelling,
    getting in his face, pushing him, grabbing him. 'Arrest him!' they cry.
    'Arrest him!' With the help of a diminutive DNC aide, Luis Rosero, and the
    political director of the Miami Gore campaign, Joe Fraga, Geller manages to
    wrench himself into the elevator.
    "Rosero, who stays back to talk to the press, gets kicked, punched. A woman
    pushes him into a much larger guy, seemingly trying to instigate a fight.
    In the lobby of the building, a group of 50 or so Republicans are crushed
    around Geller, surrounding him.

    "The cops escort Geller back to the 19th floor, so the elections officials
    can see what's going on, investigate the charges. Of course, it turns out
    that all Geller had was a sample ballot. The crowd is pulling at the cops,
    pulling at Geller. It's insanity! Some even get in the face of 73-year-old
    Rep. Carrie Meek. Democratic operatives decide to pull out of the area
    altogether." [Tapper's Down and Dirty]
    Despite the use of intimidation to influence actions by election officials,
    Bush and his top aides remained publicly silent about these disruptive
    tactics. The Washington Post reported that "even as the Bush campaign and
    the Republicans portray themselves as above the fray," national Republicans
    actually had joined in and helped finance the raucous protests. [Washington
    Post, Nov. 27, 2000]
    The Wall Street Journal added more details, including the fact that Bush
    offered personal words of encouragement to the rioters in a conference call
    to a Bush campaign-sponsored celebration on the night of Thanksgiving Day,
    one day after the canvassing board assault.
    "The night's highlight was a conference call from Mr. Bush and running mate
    Dick Cheney, which included joking reference by both running mates to the
    incident in Miami, two [Republican] staffers in attendance say," according
    to the Journal. [Nov. 27, 2000]
    The Journal also reported that the assault on the canvassing board was led
    by national Republican operatives "on all expense-paid trips, courtesy of
    the Bush campaign." After their success in Dade, the rioters moved on to
    Broward, where the protests remained unruly but failed to stop that count.
    The Journal noted that "behind the rowdy rallies in South Florida this past
    weekend was a well-organized effort by Republican operatives to entice
    supporters to South Florida," with DeLay's Capitol Hill office taking
    charge of the recruitment.
    About 200 Republican congressional staffers signed on, the Journal
    reported. They were put up at hotels, given $30 a day for food and "an
    invitation to an exclusive Thanksgiving Day party in Fort Lauderdale," the
    article said.
                               Upper Hand
    The Journal said there was no evidence of a similar Democratic strategy to
    fly in national party operatives. "This has allowed the Republicans to
    quickly gain the upper hand, protest-wise," the Journal said.
    The Bush campaign also worked to conceal its hand. "Staffers who joined the
    effort say there has been an air of mystery to the operation. 'To tell you
    the truth, nobody knows who is calling the shots,' says one aide. Many
    nights, often very late, a memo is slipped underneath the hotel-room doors
    outlining coming events," the Journal reported.
    On Nov. 25, the Bush campaign issued "talking points" to justify the Miami
    protest, calling it "fitting, proper" and blaming the canvassing board for
    the disruptions. "The board made a series of bad decisions and the reaction
    to it was inevitable and well justified," the Bush campaign said. [Down and
    Still, other recounts in Broward County whittled down Bush's lead. Gore was
    gaining slowly in Palm Beach's recount, despite constant challenges from
    Republican observers.
    To boost Bush's margin back up, Republican Secretary of State Harris
    allowed Nassau County to throw out its recounted figures that had helped
    Gore. Then, excluding a partial recount in Palm Beach and with Miami shut
    down, Harris certified Bush the winner by 537 votes.
    Bush partisans cheered their victory and began demanding that Bush be
    called the president-elect. Soon afterwards, Bush appeared on national
    television to announce himself the winner and to call on Gore to concede
    "Now," Bush said, "we must live up to our principles. We must show our
    commitment to the common good, which is bigger than any person or any party."
                               Changed Course
    To many Gore supporters, the aborted recount in Miami changed the course of
    the Florida events, preventing Gore from narrowing Bush's small lead or
    possibly edging ahead.
    The Brooks Brothers Riot also represented an escalation of tactics,
    demonstrating the potential for spiraling political violence if the recount
    battle dragged on. The Republicans were putting down a marker that they
    were prepared to do what was necessary to win, regardless of what the
    voters had wanted.
    After the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount to determine
    who won the state and thus the presidency, Bush sent his lawyers to the
    U.S. Supreme Court where five Republican justices decided on Dec. 9, 2000,
    to stop the counting of votes. Then, on Dec. 12, the same five Republicans
    blocked a resumption. The disruptions in November had played out the clock
    so a slim majority on the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively award the
    White House to Bush.
    Unlike the Chicago Seven case three decades earlier, no one faced charges
    for disrupting the Miami recount.
    In the Chicago Seven case, the jury acquitted all defendants of conspiracy
    charges, though finding five defendants David Dellinger, Tom Hayden,
    Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin individually guilty of
    inciting a riot, charges that later were reversed on appeal. Separate
    government investigations also faulted the Chicago police for using
    excessive violence to quell the 1968 protests.
    Ironically, the kind of documentary evidence that might have proved
    valuable in tying up the loose ends of the Chicago Seven conspiracy is
    present in the new filings that the Bush recount committee made to the IRS.
    The evidence is clear that the Bush committee organized the movement of
    protesters across state lines, paid for their lodging, moved them into a
    position for the riot, and then defended their actions.
    After the incident, Bush personally thanked some of the participants at a
    celebration paid for by Bush's organization. Since taking office, Bush has
    further rewarded some of the participants with high-level government jobs.
    But the biggest reason for the very different government reactions to the
    Chicago Seven case and the Brooks Brothers Riot is obvious: the ultimate
    beneficiary of the Miami riot is now president of the United States.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Aug 13 2002 - 20:31:18 EDT