After months of screaming headlines on the blogosphere, Republican internet consultant Mike Connell submitted to a federal judge's order and took the oath on election eve for a deposition about the 2004 presidential election. Word was that, once under oath, Connell wouldn't lie. He'd tell how Karl Rove and the GOP stole the 2004 election for George W. Bush, electronically flipping votes from Democrat John Kerry to Bush in a dozen western Ohio counties to cinch it.
But despite allegedly admitting previously to a cyber security expert that he was involved, Connell swore that he knew nothing about any vote-rigging, according to Clifford Arnebeck, the liberal activist lawyer who interrogated him.
Now, as seems to happen in too many alleged conspiracies, Connell is dead. His single-prop airplane crashed next to a vacant house three miles short of the runway at the Akron-Canton airport Friday evening, And Blake Chenault, a reporter for CBS' Cleveland affiliate, quoted an anonymous close friend as saying that Connell was warned not to fly in recent months because his plane had been sabotaged. Chenault said Sunday night that Connell twice cancelled flights in the last two months because of ``suspicious problems'' with his plane.
Connell's firm, GovTech Solutions, was among consultants hired to assist Ohio's GOP secretary of state, Ken Blackwell, in the posting of election returns on the internet in 2004. Also hired: the Chattanooga firm SMARTech, a leading Republican internet host and the host for the famed gwb43.com web site on which Rove and others sent politically related emails that disappeared during the 2007 scandal over the politicization of the Justice Department. Both SMARTech and a separate Connell company consulted for Bush's reelection campaign earlier in the year.
Arnebeck, who sought Connell's testimony, had questioned him about alleged threats during the November deposition, but U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver ordered those answers sealed. Arnebeck says an anonymous tipster alleged that Connell was warned that if he refused to take the fall for any election shenanigans, his wife would be criminally prosecuted for illegal activities with spouses of U.S. senators.
And now, as aviation investigators try to unravel the cause of his plane crash, the liberal blogosphere is alive again with rumors of conspiracy.