Why would the Ohio Green Party Co-Chair end up addressing Bernie Sanders delegates in Philly during the Democratic Party convention? I found myself with them in a pizza place in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania at the behest of the mostly-California-based Election Justice organization.
In a crowded back room, angry and angst-ridden Berners, as they call themselves, listened intently as election protection attorney Bill Simpich outlined what can only be described as a Clinton election coup in the California primary. Simpich has filed three lawsuits in California so far, trying to ensure every vote is counted. Immediately following the primary in California, 2.4 million votes – overwhelmingly from Sanders’ supporters – remained uncounted, resulting from a combination of dirty tricks and illegal voter suppression activities.
When all the votes are counted, Sanders would likely be the victor.
Berners were outraged over the apparent election fraud and the Wikileaks release of 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails just prior to the start of Hillary Clinton’s well-orchestrated coronation. They pondered the suspicious death of DNC staffer Seth Rich, found shot twice in the back on July 10 before he was set to testify in the Clinton email investigation. The delegates were particularly pissed about the content of one Wikileaked email from a DNC staffer named “Marshall” to DNC Communication Director Louis Miranda. Marshall wondered about Bernie – “Does he believe in a God.” In another email, staffers plotted to describe Bernie as a “Jew” and “atheist” in hopes of discouraging support for him from West Virginia voters.
In an interview about the revelations in the DNC emails, Sanders had stated, “The Party leadership must always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, implicated in the email scandal, was initially “quarantined to keep the peace,” according to DNC officials. But, Wasserman-Schultz resigned in shame only to be immediately hired by the Clinton campaign.
Lulu Fries’dat unveiled a 96-page report entitled “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries” issued by Election Justice USA and endorsed by Fritz Scheuren, the former president of the American Statistical Association. The report concluded that “…an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates [were] lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud. Adding these delegates to Senator Sanders’ pledged delegate total and subtracting the same number from Hillary Clinton’s pledged total would more than erase the 359 pledged delegate gap between the two candidates.”
The report also pointed out that, “Even small changes in vote shares in critical states like Massachusetts and New York could have substantially changed the media narrative surrounding the primaries in ways that would likely have had far reaching consequences for Senator Sanders’ campaign.”
I explained to the crowd that the lawsuit I filed, Johnson v. Edison Research Group, accuses the presidential primary exit pollsters of collaborating with secretaries of state to deliver bad numbers to the giant media polling consortium – NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and the Associated Press. While none of the Republican primary election exit poll results were statistically suspicious, 12 out of 26 Democratic primary exit poll results were so far off the actual vote totals that they would not have been validated by the U.S. State Department Hillary used to head. Among the worst were Arizona, Alabama, Ohio and New York. Edison had unexpectedly canceled all further primary election exit polling just prior to the California vote.
Suddenly the Bernie supporters were asking “What should we do?” about all the election fraud. Their solution was to issue a statement about the primary election fraud and Wikileaked emails, and stage a walkout at the convention after Clinton’s name was put in nomination for president. They emailed a draft statement to participants around 1:30am. It was now clear that the walkout would happen and chaos would ensue.
Outside the Wells Fargo Center convention site, people were in the streets daily marching and chanting and setting up an “Occupy the DNC” continuous convergence at FDR Park. I joined Cheri Honkala’s, and the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign’s “March for our Lives” Monday at 3pm starting outside the Philadelphia City Hall. Honkala, Jill Stein’s Green Party Vice Presidential running mate in 2012, was joined by Cornel West, a leading Sanders surrogate and platform spokesperson who had recently endorsed Stein for president this year. West was his usual nattily attired self, in a three-piece suit, in preparation for the 4-mile march in 100-degree temperatures.
Jill Stein spoke briefly at the start of the march. Chants included: “Hell no DNC! We won’t vote for Hillary!” and “Jill, not Hill!” Halfway through the march it paused, and I was handed a megaphone to address the marchers on the issue of election fraud. I denounced the fact that “Private, for-profit, partisan corporations secretly count our votes and maintain our pollbooks with secret proprietary software.” I urged occupation and arrests to end this unacceptable and undemocratic practice.
Two voting machine companies Dominion (formerly Diebold) and Hart Intercivic were listed as donors to the Clinton Foundation. As the axiom goes, there’s not much money in vote counting, but a lot in vote results.
Fifty-four marchers took arrest for going over the fences outside the Wells Fargo Center protesting election fraud and Citizen’s United. They were cuffed and given bottles of water, much to their relief.
Under a large white tent in FDR Park, Green Party stalwarts like Medea Benjamin, David Cobb and hip hop artist Immortal Technique revved up the crowd in anticipation of Jill Stein’s appearance. I saw a “Rigging is not Winning” sign.
The sky was filling with dark gray clouds. Luckily Howie Hawkins, Green Party legend from New York, was serving as security and allowed me backstage. Then a Parks and Recreation staffer rushed into the tent and demanded we shut it down before the impending thunderstorm. He proclaimed an emergency and told us to leave immediately. A black security person answered “Hell no! We don’t know if you’re with Hillary!”
As an election attorney for the Green Party of Ohio, I was drawn into the conversation and we realized the legal implications – stall as long as we can so Jill can finish speaking.
We refused to vacate the tent and shut down the rally as Jill was being ushered on the stage. We demanded a note from his supervisor. While Jill spoke, inviting the Berners to break from the Democratic Party, the Parks and Rec guy returned to show us an email on his phone verifying his orders. We perused it slowly and sent him away a second time where he vowed to return with police. He did, but by that time Jill was done speaking and Immortal Technique was rapping the rally up.
Then came the righteous cleansing rain.
When Hillary was nominated on Tuesday night, there was a mass walkout by Bernie supporters chanting “Walk out! Walk out!” “Election Fraud!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” Berners from California and New York visibly emptied large areas of the convention hall. Clinton controlled state delegations were down near the front for mainstream media cameras to pick up, while the seats that Sanders’ large contingent got were higher up. Some Bernie delegates stopped and had a silent protest at the convention media tent wearing black gags and tape over their mouths – words on the tape read “Election Fraud” and “Silenced.”
We were receiving constant messages from delegates in convention center. The first important post I noted on Monday was from a California delegate at 5:48pm urging people to join a class action lawsuit against the DNC. There were six links to devastating online articles and videos regarding the DNC’s election manipulation.
Many of the delegates messaged that they were being threatened with having their delegate credentials pulled, something that actually happened to Ohio State Senator Nina Turner. Reports are that she had refused to specifically endorse Clinton in her planned “second” to the Sanders nomination. Numerous Bernie supporters reported that their Bernie signs were confiscated by convention officials and Hillary delegates. New Yorkers complained that a white noise machine was placed by them to drown out their Hillary heckling.
Later in the week during the convention when Tim Kaine took the stage election integrity activists dropped a green banner over the side of the balcony reading “Election Fraud #wikileaks” and Hillary’s acceptance speech was marred by glowing neon green vests and T-shirts that read “Enough is Enough” indicating their plan to vote Green Party in November. Jill Stein was invited in to the convention center to be interviewed by Fox News, causing consternation.
As a fellow for the Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity, I spoke on a panel at the parallel People Demanding Action (aka Progressive Democrats of America) conference on election integrity. Many in the audience were California Bernie delegates and during the Q and A they came to the conclusion that they should walk out during Clinton’s nomination address. There were two dissenters that led to a profane shouting match during the discussion.
After the Q and A, I raced back to FDR Park to join comedian/news analyst Lee Camp and my favorite investigative reporter Greg Palast on a panel. It never happened because the occupiers were heading over to the convention center for another round of arrests.
Now that it’s over, I read a report that the FBI was on the DNC email case. The great irony is that the FBI has announced it is going to investigate the source of the leaks, but not any potentially illegal activity that was in the email leak.
On a more positive note, I read a July 29 open letter to Bernie Sanders by 22 former campaign staffers and his current National Latino Outreach Deputy Director Cesar Vargas urging him to run for president on a Sanders/Stein Green Party ticket.