Catskill Center For Independence Denies They Took Anything But Claim Money Was Offered...And This Isn't the First Such Example...
By John Gideon on 8/2/2006, 8:55pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Today Oneonta, NY's The Daily Star reported that Chris Zachmeyer, executive director of the Catskill Center For Independence, said Tuesday that voting-machine manufacturers have tried to contribute money to her organization, which has given testimony on which voting machines Otsego County should buy.

"It’s happened a couple of times," said Zachmeyer, who declined to identify the manufacturers.

"I told them, ’I’d love to take your money, but I can’t,"’ Zachmeyer said. "Those were my words exactly, and I would love to take their money because they’ve got deep pockets and we’re a small agency."

"But to what end?" Zachmeyer asked. "We would lose any credibility that we ever had, and no amount of money is worth it.

"We exist totally on our credibility," she said. "If people don’t trust what we have to say, we might as well lock our doors and go home."

But with "millions of dollars at stake" it may well be that "back-door deals" may have been made as Voting Machine companies may be paying disabilities groups to testify on their behalf. It wouldn't be the first time.

As the article goes on to report...

Zachmeyer said the offers "have only happened a couple of times to me, but you have to realize there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake just in New York state. ... I’m sure there have been a lot of back-door deals made or a lot of back-door deals offered."

The issue of manufacturers using their money to influence agencies arose at a public hearing held by the Otsego County Board of Elections on Friday. For that hearing, Zachmeyer wrote a letter asking the county’s elections commissioners to consider buying direct recording electronic machines made by Sequoia Voting Machines.

After Zachmeyer’s letter was read, Hank Nicols, the county’s Democratic elections commissioner, said the BOE had received a letter from Adrian Kuzminski, of Fly Creek, saying that some agencies purporting to represent disabled people have been paid surreptitiously to lobby for DREs.

WiredNews reporter Kim Zetter reported on October 12, 2004 the following:

The government lobbyist for the American Association of People with Disabilities, who has traveled around the country testifying on behalf of touch-screen voting, acknowledged this year that his organization received at least $26,000 from voting companies, but only after first denying it.

When asked in April, Jim Dickson, vice president of government affairs for the AAPD, told Wired News his organization had never received money from voting companies. But in June, he told The New York Times the organization had gotten money.

Dickson didn't disclose the gifts at hearings in California this year, where he tried to convince officials not to decertify touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold and other companies. Nor did he disclose the information in Washington in May when he participated in hearings with the federal Election Assistance Commission.

In the same article she reported:

In November 2000, Diebold, a maker of automated teller machines, agreed to pay the National Federation of the Blind $1 million over five years to help build a new research and training institute.1 The money was offered in exchange for the NFB agreeing to drop a lawsuit it filed against Diebold for installing ATMs inaccessible to blind customers, when technology for making the machines accessible was available. The NFB also formed a partnership with Diebold to help the company develop and market accessible ATM machines --- an agreement that later extended to the company's touch-screen voting systems.

Clearly there was money changing hands and there probably still is.