Friday, January 14, 2005

Conyers requests independent counsel

Rep. John Conyers Jr., of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft today requesting an independent counsel to investigate the irregularities of the Ohio election, and in particular, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s role in the perpetration.

The letter concludes:
    We also learned that Secretary of State Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney Campaign in Ohio, recently sent a campaign solicitation that uses a mock U.S. seal (attached). This partisan replica may violate 18 U.S.C. $ 7 13, which prohibits the unofficial use of the great seal of the United States or its likeness. It is our understanding that the Justice Department has intervened when similar seals were used in past campaigns. As to this point, we request that you appoint a special counsel to investigate whether charges should be brought against Secretary Blackwell. This is because the criteria set forth for appointing a special counsel have been met, and the public interest is best served by having an independent individual investigate whether charges should be pursued. We hope you will agree that asking the Bush Administration to investigate the individual who takes credit for it’s reelection – J. Kenneth Blackwell – creates an apparent, if not actual, conflict of interest.

    While the election is over, we believe it is important that the American people understand that our nation will not tolerate the intimidation of a single vote, and that where election misconduct occurs, it will be vigorously investigated, regardless of the political party involved. Given the importance of these issues, we would ask that you meet with us at your earliest convenience so that we may understand the procedures you will undertake to respond to our concerns. Such a meeting is particularly important given that the Government Accountability Office has recently found that the Department has failed to appropriately track or respond to complaints of voting irregularities in past elections.

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