Bev Harris at Black Box Voting picked up on something the rest of us may have missed. Chuck Hagel, the maverick Republican Senator from Kansas who once wrote that the Iraq war was "the triumph of the so-called neoconservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence" offered his services as his VP to Barack Obama a month ago. This month, Hagel is traveling with Obama to Afghanistan and Iraq along with Jack Reed, Dem Sen from Rhode Island who has also been mentioned as being under consideration as BO's VP.
Whether either of them is on BO's short list is questionable but their presence on Obama's critical overseas mission (critical politically) is certainly suggestive.
Wait a minute... BO's considering a Republican as his Veep?
Well, yeah, maybe just for show to pump up his "beyond politics" message, but yeah. Why not? Hagel's against the Iraq war and isn't one of the drooling/looneytoons contingent of GOP whackjobs who think if girls travel in bunches to the rest rooms at school they must all be lesbians (see Coburn, Tom, GOP Sen from OK). Of course, he may have stolen the election he won to get his job, but don't they all do that?
Hagel worked for the George H.W. Bush administration in the 1980s. Initially, he was chosen to oversee the Agent Orange program for war veterans. His actions were controversial in this program.
Cellular technology pushed into the US by selling off territories in a "lottery" type mechanism. The cushiest territory "lottery" win went to Chuck Hagel, who got to corner the cell phone market in Washington DC and surrounding Virginia and Maryland areas. When Hagel ran for office in 1996, controversies about how he won the lucrative cell phone lottery surfaced in the campaign; I was not able to get specifics.
In the late 1980s, Chuck Hagel went to Saudi Arabia where he got the cell phone network going. He then went to work for George H.W. Bush in a privatization effort.
Originally from Nebraska, he had been living in the Washington DC area all through the 1980s. He moved back to Nebraska to take the helm at ES&S, then called AIS. He headed the AIS Board of Directors while Bob Urosevich ran the company. (As you may recall, Urosevich then went to run Diebold Election Systems.)
In 1994, Bob Urosevich left AIS and Hagel become CEO. This lasted until Hagel announced his run for the US Senate. He announced his candidacy two weeks after stepping down as AIS CEO. He also held stock in AIS and also in its parent company, McCarthy Group. AIS changed its name to Election Systems & Software in 1997.
Michael McCarthy, who heads McCarthy Group, was Hagels campaign finance director. When I first broke the story about Hagel and the voting machine company in 2002, Michael McCarthy's son was working in Hagel's DC office.
Hagel was not expected to win the 1996 primary, but he did, and it was such an upset that it made national news. "Can lightening strike twice?" one headline read, referring to the even more improbable prospects for Hagel winning the general. He did win. AIS/ES&S counted 80 percent of his votes.
There is little or no evidence either way, of course - Hagel, whatever his other faults, isn't stupid - but it's very...odd.
Hagel stated to the press in 2003 that he would consider a run for the presidency, and that was the event that caused me to call Alexander Bolton of "The Hill" to persuade a more mainstream media outlet to run a story on Hagel's voting machine company ties.
Hagel did not disclose his ownership in the voting machine company. He did disclose up to $5 million in McCarthy Group, but failed to disclose the underlying assets of McCarthy Group as required. He did not disclose that he had been CEO of the voting machine company, even though that was clearly required. He was required to list every position held during the past two years; he listed a volunteer position with the Red Cross, but failed to mention that he was CEO of the voting machine company that counted his votes. According to Bolton, Hagel's 1996 documents have been removed from the Senate Ethics Committee repository, along with the letters from the Ethics Committee asking him for proper disclosure.
Sources tell me 2003 Ethics Chairman Victor Baird took the position that Hagel failed to properly disclose the McCarthy underlying assets. Hours before Alex Bolton was set to interview him, Baird resigned. The new ethics chairperson took the official position that Hagel had done nothing wrong.
It smells like old meat, don't it? CEO of a company that makes voting machines with an astounding record of irregularities that somehow always turn out to be in the favor of Republicans, he runs for a seat the ordinary polls show he can't win but he wins it in an election where his company's machines counted 4/5 of the vote? And he doesn't bothet to report that he still owns a chunk of it? That's quite a...co-incidence, isn't it?
That Obama would hook himself up with a Pub after everything that party has done is somewhat surprising. That he would put one on the short list as his Vice Presidential running mate leaves one's jaw agape. That he would even consider it is, well, shocking.
Actually, no. Not shocking. That's what's shocking about it. Now that one comes to think of it a bit, why, it seems almost natural.
UPDATE: (7/22/08) Avedon Carol has more on the theft of offyear elections. Like proof.