Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The real scandal in Waukesha County- Nickolaus' corrupt contracting

Obviously, the report releaed on Waukesha County's screwed-up election procedures is a pretty big deal. And not only because it pinpoints Kathy Nickolaus's general incompetence, secrecy and cluelessness in running this sketchy place's elections (the section in Chapter 9 on the total FUBAR job on the April 3 elections is particularly hilarious and eye-rolling). The Journal-Sentinel's big headline is about Nickolaus's blunders costing the county over $256,000, but as usual, the Journal-Sentinel seems to have missed the bigger story on this audit. And that relates to an item that shows up on page 54 of the audit.
Documentation from the 2010 Audit addresses a planned and withdrawn capital purchase request for new Insight machines.

During the discussions which led to the approval of this audit, there were numerous mentions of a 2006 capital project request by the County Clerk to purchase an election system. It appears that there was no capital project proposed regarding the 2006 purchase of ADA polling machines by the municipalities (see full discussion in the following section of this report). However, in 2008 the Clerk proposed a 2009 capital project for county-wide election equipment at a total cost of $600,000. The project was for the purchase of 100 Sequoia Optech Insight polling machines at a cost of $6,000 each to replace the Sequoia Eagle polling machines currently in use in the municipalities which were purchased by the County in the mid-1990s. The analysis of need stated the Eagle machines did not meet current federal standards and required programming on the DOS-based Unity software. Further, the use of two systems delayed the\ posting of election results on election night (partly because the use of the HAAT had not been approved). This project was withdrawn at the clerk’s request. Internal Audit could not locate documentation as to the reason for the withdrawal of the project....

There is no current plan to replace Eagle polling machines at County
The company mentioned is Sequoia Voting Systems, who notoriously announced incorrect winners of races in Florida and threw out thousands of votes in NYC. And while it takes a while in the Journal-Sentinel story to find this out, apparently there was a good reason Nickolaus backed off of buying the Sequoia equipment- not because they had a faulty record, but because she wanted to obtain the equipment illegally.
...that equipment was supposed to be replaced in 2009, but Nickolaus killed the project because county purchasing officials wouldn't let her award a no-bid contract, said Norm Cummings, county director of administration.

Now Vrakas and the County Board will need to spend unknown amounts of money in the 2013 and 2014 budgets to replace that equipment before the 2014 gubernatorial election, Cummings said.
That's right, Nickolaus wanted to give Sequoia a sweetheart deal to have a huge amount of Waukesha County's voting machines, and refused to go through a competitive bid process that may have saved the county thousands of dollars and/or gotten better equipment. Propos to Norm Cummings and Waukesha County purchasing officials for doing the ethical thing and telling Cheatin' Kathy to follow the rules. (and score another point for independent civil service)

Waukesha County wasn't the only place Nickolaus was propping up Sequoia, and a vendor called Command Central, which is based in a strip mall in Minnesota that also houses Michele Bachmann's offices. The Scott Walker Watch has an excellent rundown of the sketchy connections between Command Central and Wisconsin's election. That article also mentions a great connection that was revealed in Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-Op the month before the June 5 recall election.
Command Central is one of Wisconsin’s leading vendors of voting machines and election supplies. They are distributors for Dominion Voting Systems, a privately-owned electronic voting equipment company. Founded in Canada in 2002, Dominion is now based in Denver, CO, since their acquisitions of Premier Election Solutions, from Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and Sequoia Voting Systems.

Command Central deals directly with Wisconsin county and municipal clerks and is closely involved in their selection of voting machines, ballots, and other election supplies. Command Central does all the maintenance on the voting machines and provides tech support throughout the year, with a special “hot line” should clerks need help with glitches, etc., on election day.

In June 2011, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association held their annual summer conference in Ladysmith. Seventy-five county clerks from across the state came together to, among other things, “assist the legislators in developing sound legislation that affects county clerks and county government by providing accurate and useful information.” WCCA Legislation Committee chair at the time was Kathy Nickolaus.
And sure enough, Command Central got 46 Wisconsin communities to place new touch-screen election machines in time for the June 5 recall.

Now I'm not going to go too far with this, and I'm not going to say that the June 5 election was rigged (although there's some other fishy things that have happened since election day, like the cartridges with the vote counts in Crawford County and other places being sent to Command Central in Minnesota prematurely ). But between the unethical practices Kathy Nickolaus went through to try to get Sequoia Systems a contract for Waukesha County voting machines, and the general lack of trasnparency in the process, there are some serious issues that need to be kept in the light.

Because would you put it past these types or their superiors at WisGOP or the RNC to do something that compromised integrity to keep them in power? I sure don't. Let's see if the media stays on this part of the story, as this could be the real scandal if it goes where I think it might.

No comments:

Post a Comment