Mr. Blackwell, now is the time to resign

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 9, 2006

Yesterday, my old friend Cathy stopped over for lunch. Cathy lives in North Dakota and grew up in Ohio.

When we get together she usually wants me to catch her up on local and state events. This week all she wanted to talk about was the upcoming Ohio governor’s election.

“If I was living here I’d be voting for Mr. Blackwell,” Cathy said.

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Why Cathy?

“Well, he is all about controlling spending. He is going to limit all spending forever so things work right,” she said.

Um, actually Cathy, that idea didn’t work out so well. Seems it was a simple idea, and not very thoughtful.

“Oh, OK. You know he is the secretary of state. That’s an important job. And, the current governor, Taft, endorsed him … that must mean a lot,” Cathy said.

I am not sure the governor’s endorsement is all that helpful, but Blackwell does have it. Cathy, you do know that Blackwell has had some conflict of interest problems, don’t you?

“Lies, just dirty lies. He is a very religious man, he would never do anything wrong,”she said.

Maybe. But are you aware he accidentally bought stock in Diebold, a company that makes voting machines, right at the time he was making a decision on which company to give the purchase contract to and that Diebold got the contract?

“Well, it was an accident, wasn’t it?” she asked.

That is what Blackwell says, yes. Actually he said “It appears to be a conflict of interest.”

“Well, I think he would never do wrong,” Cathy said. “That’s just a political attack. I’m getting one of those lapel buttons ‘Blackwell and Bush.’”

Um, I don’t think there are any of those. President Bush isn’t all that popular in Ohio right now.

“That’s funny. Mr. Blackwell has been a great supporter of the president and the vice president. You would think he would be proud of that,” Cathy said.

You might think so, yes. But I don’t think he will say much about that this election. You do know that Blackwell is trying to stop new voter registration this year, while running for governor, right?”

“No, he would never do that,” she said.

Well, in 2004 he tried to make rules for voter registration that they had to be on 80-pound paper stock to qualify. That was to reduce new voter registration. He backed off of it after people said it was wrong.

This year he is once again trying to stop new voters from registering. This time his intent is to stop voter registration groups from turning in the new registrations for review of errors before they are submitted. This will effectively shut down new voter registration in Ohio.

“Why would he do that?” Cathy asked.

Maybe because he thinks he will have a better chance to win the governor’s job if less people vote.

“That can’t be right. If he is the secretary of state he can’t use his office to help himself in an election. That would be wrong,” Cathy said.

Yes, it would be a conflict of interest … just like buying stock in a company and bidding for a state contract that he controlled would be a conflict of interest.

Worse yet, in 2004 Blackwell placed voting machines so there would be long lines in Democratic areas and short lines in Republican areas. If he does that that this year, he does it to benefit himself through his office.

“Gee, this isn’t right at all,” she said.

No Cathy, it isn’t.

Blackwell should resign to stop these clear conflicts of interests. He cannot tilt the state in his own direction, using his office and still be an honest candidate for governor.

Jim Crawford is a local political enthusiast. He can be reached at