While the Bush Administration is discussing the possible postponement of the November election, and a newly revealed May 2001 memo shows Rep. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay requested $100,000 from Ken Lay at Enron to push redistricting Texas, and BBC journalist Greg Palast finally is testifying before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission regarding his investigation into the 57,000 voters purged in Florida in 2000 – it is timely to share another 2000 moment.
On November 21, 2000, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled against the Bush demand that the recount be stopped, and then required the three counties to send in the amended results by Saturday November 26th at 5:00 p.m., Bush was ready.
Because on November 18, the Bush/Cheney campaign had put the word out: "We now need to send reinforcements... The campaign will pay airfare and hotel expenses for people willing to go.” But if that failed, there was a backup plan. Reinforcements were hired.
The Capitol Hill office House Majority Whip (then) Tom DeLay (R-TX) organized the recruitment of over 200 Republican Congressional staffers, who were put on the Bush Cheney campaign payroll and flown to Florida in a fleet of corporate jets, including planes owned by Enron and Halliburton.
So, on Wednesday morning, November 22, on the 18th floor of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center for Miami-Dade County, as the 3-person Board of Canvassers met to begin the recount – a crowd of those "reinforcements," in the guise of irate locals, was growing outside the room. With the tension rising, and limited time, the Board announced that they and the official observers would be retreating to a smaller office on the 19th floor, where they would examine and count the 10,750 disputed ballots, away from the general public.
The Republicans seized the moment.
U.S. Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) called out, “Shut it down!" and the hired mob went mad. They charged up to the 19th floor, raising a ruckus – pushing, banging on walls and doors, chanting, "Stop the count, stop the fraud!" – and preventing official observers and journalists from entering the office (from Paul Gigot, reporting in the Nov. 24 Wall Street Journal).
A Washington Post photograph of the supposedly-outraged-voter/rioters clearly identifies:
• House Majority Whip Tom DeLay’s Policy Analyst – Tom Pyle.
• Majority Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice – Garry Malphrus – now Bush’s Deputy Director of the President’s Domestic Policy Council.
• Former Legislative Director to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Van Hilleary (R-Tenn.) – Roger Morse – now Senior Government Affairs Analyst for Federal Policy Practice (Lobbyist) for Preston Gates & Ellis.
• Regional Political Director for the Bush/Cheney 2000 Campaign, former Chief of Staff for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) – Matthew Schlapp – now Bush’s Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs at the White House.
• House Republican Conference Analyst – Kevin Smith – now Bush’s Senior Communications Counselor for the House Education and Workforce Committee (promoting No Child Left Behind).
• General Counsel to Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) of the House Resources Committee – Duane Gibson – followed Young to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, then brought his Capitol Hill expertise to Greenberg Traurig’s Government Affairs Section (Lobbyist - *Update: Abramoff's law firm).
• Former Legislative Assistant to former Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot (R-Iowa) – Layna McConkey – now at Steelman Health Strategies, lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry.
and . . .
• **FORMER LAW CLERK FOR SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA** and Policy Advisor for Bush/Cheney 2000 – Joel Kaplan – became Bush’s First Special Assistant to the President in the Office of the Chief of Staff, and now Bush’s Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget (not shown in Washington Post photo but identified by multiple witnesses).
These were not just Pages and Gofers. Or Floridians.
To further engender fear in the Miami election administrators (who had just months earlier experienced the stand off and riots over Elian Gonzales), the crowd accused the election officials of deliberately excluding the Cuban dominated precincts (which hadn’t happened). The Spanish language radio station, Radio Mambi, had a reporter there, and the chaotic event and false accusations were on the air. Rumors of 1,000 angry Cubans on their way to storm the building were spread.
(Note: Radio Mambi, a vehemently anti-Castro station, was owned by the Cuban American National Foundation. The CANF was established in 1981 with covert funding from the Reagan/Bush administration, and run by CIA operative Jorge Mas Canosa until his death in 1996. Canosa served under CIA Director George H.W. Bush, and was linked to the Iran-Contra affair.)
That did it. The Board reversed its decision and shut down the recount – for good. Later that day, Bush filed his petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in his being handed the election.
The next evening, the Republican protestors were rewarded with a Thanksgiving celebration banquet at a Ft. Lauderdale Hotel, where they got treated to a conference call from George W. Bush himself, thanking them, and live entertainment by Wayne Newton, singing "Danke Schoen."
To verify/research, Google: "Bush +rioters +Florida +2000."