House Candidate to Face Litany of Criminal Charges After Alleging Vote Fraud
By Miriam Raftery
Monday 12 June
In an exclusive
interview with Florida House of Representatives candidate Charlie Grapski -
arrested after he filed a lawsuit alleging voting fraud against Alachua
County City Manager Clovis Watson, RAW STORY learns of corruption
allegations that can only be described as not seen since the days of Boss
Charlie Grapski, a
Democrat running for the Florida House of Representatives, was arrested in
April after filing a lawsuit alleging that City officials abused power and
influenced the outcome of an election by manipulating the absentee voting
process. The story, however, does not start or end with election fraud
allegations. What Grapski tells is a tale that one cannot imagine occurring
in a law abiding country, one of false arrest, intimidation, and a
crony-business system all centered around money interests.
Clovis Watson is
not only the City Manager of Alachua county and, as such, the defendant in
Grapski's lawsuit, he is also the Police Commissioner of Alachua, Florida, a
town dominated by the Republican Party and pro-development Democrats.
Watson, one website alleges, is funded by the Alachua County Republican
Party, and declined to accept the Democrat of the Year Award because he is
planning a switch to the Republican Party. The site also takes aim at
Grapski, "Clovis Watson filed a sworn complaint as a police officer himself,
and as City Manager he was the aggrieved party. As Police Commissioner, he
was his own boss and accepted the sworn complaint from himself - and then
instructed his subordinates on the police force to have me arrested."
Now, RAW STORY has
learned, the Sheriff's office has announced that additional charges,
including felony wiretapping, will be filed against Grapski and Michael
Canney, a Green Party member who witnessed and videotaped Grapski's efforts
to obtain public records.
In this exclusive
interview with RAW STORY on June 11, 2006, Grapski reveals startling details
of his situation and updates regarding an election outcome allegedly changed
by absentee ballot manipulation. He also levels serious allegations of abuse
of power by public officials, including officials linked to President George
W. Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Miriam Raftery: What was your background before you decided to run for
Grapski: I'm a political scientist and political theorist. I taught
those topics at the University of Florida. I am finishing two doctorates,
one in politics and one in law; that's a PhD in law, not a JD. I've been
involved in local politics for a long time as an activist. I served on a
campaign charter review board for the City of Gainesville.
RS: How did
you become involved in election reform?
been involved in election reform a long time and have been pushing for
election reform through charter review board this year.
go back to April and what happened that that started all the troubles
leading up to your arrest.
April 11th there was an election in the City of Alachua. That's part of my
district that I'm running for. I went up to the polling location to meet
people and get petitions signed and campaign for my candidacy. I knew of
some problems in Alachua, but I didn't know how bad they were; people came
to me with all sorts of concerns. I said "I'll stay around to watch the vote
count on election night." So I went there and saw a number of violations of
the law. This was at City Hall. The City officials conducted the elections
themselves, which is problematic.
CG: I began
investigating this matter and speaking to other people who conveyed stories
of their experiences in the election. What they were alleging is that city
officials abused their authority and power and actually manipulated the
election outcome through use of the absentee ballot process.
RS: How did
they manipulate the absentee ballot process, in your opinion?
will come out this week, but in effect they improperly influenced citizens
who cast absentee ballots and instructed them on how to cast them. This
included Clovis Watson, the City Manager who is also the Police
commissioner. He served on the canvassing board, which is supposed to be
neutral, and he is the one who personally arrested me. Another one is Alan
Henderson, the City Deputy Clerk, he acted as supervisor of elections for
they on the ballot themselves?
They influenced the election for a guy named James Lewis. He won the
election by 18 absentee ballots but lost it prior to the absentee ballots
being counted. This was his election to his 40th consecutive commission. He
was on the City Commission (like a City Council). Basically they went up and
actively influenced voters on how to vote.
that be legal campaigning?
CG: Not if
you're a city official and an election official ... I don't want to go into
too much detail, but in the conduct of giving people ballots they were also
engaged in telling them how to cast the ballots. We believe that this is not
the first time that they have done this.
they try to influence the general public, or are you referring to City
CG: We know
that one of the ways they did this was to the general public ... people that
work for the city are either part of the problem or they are afraid to stand
up against it. The people in the City of Alachua are afraid of retaliation
by the public officials and the police officials if they stand up to the
government. People are literally afraid.
did you do that started the trouble you're facing?
first thing I did was I began investigating on my own and organizing and
explaining to people what the law was, after the April 11 election. We began
talking to others. I spoke to a law professor and former Mayor of
Gainesville. His name is Joe Little. He said these are very serious problems
and we need to do something about them. We met and discussed it, then I
brought citizens of Alachua down to his office and we discussed what we
knew. At that point we began interviewing people who were unduly influenced
in the election. The things we found out were beyond your imagination. We
have an amended complaint being filed this week (week of June 19, 2006).
was the earlier complaint filed?
filed a complaint April 23 against the city officials including the mayor
and Clovis Watson.
happened after that?
that week, what I began to do was review all of the records of the election
to strengthen the case as we wrote up the filing and to document what we
knew, to make sure we were correct in our allegations. On Thursday after
filing the lawsuit I filed a formal public records request under Florida law
with Alan Henderson (the City Deputy Clerk who is also Supervisor of
Elections). He is required under law to have those documents ready every day
by noon. I said I'd come in on Friday of that week to review the documents.
I also knew that with a similar problem ten years ago, the City destroyed
the records and told citizens they no longer existed.
RS: So you
had reason to be suspicious?
City's normal approach even to City Commissioners they didn't like was to
deny them the public records. So I went in on that Friday with a witness,
Eileen McCoy, who was the sole plaintiff at the time, a resident of Alachua.
A lot of people were afraid to put their name on the complaint, but she did.
I brought my video recorder, because if the city was going to tell me lies
or deny me records I wanted a record of that. So I walked in and I told Alan
Henderson that I was recording him even though I didn't have to tell him,
and he even talked to the recorder to make sure he was being heard clearly.
RS: Did he
give you any records?
basically denied me the records. I said put it in writing and give me the
reason you're denying access.' And he called the police!
was your reaction and what happened next? Were you surprised that the police
Whenever anybody comes to City Hall in Alachua and speaks up, they call the
police force. Clovis Watson holds more than one office (City Manager/Police
Commissioner/Clerk Canvassing Board Member). It's unlawful in state of FL to
hold 2 offices.... Then Clovis came in and began speaking; a few minutes
into it said I notice you're recording me. He said "If I don't give consent,
that's a felony." I said, "No, you can clearly see that I'm recording, two
is that you're continuing to talk, and three is you're a public official
engaged in public business." He actually wrote in a memorandum to the City
Commission that he had no problem being recorded.
RS: So they
didn't arrest me that day. He then said I could review the records Monday at
10:30. Over the weekend he e-mailed me asking for a copy of the tape. I said
I'd consider it ... He asked to be notified in advance if I planned to
record him. I said "Be on notice that I will record all my transactions with
you." I came in on Monday, began reviewing the records and in the middle of
doing that he came out with a police chief and two armed officers and
arrested me for what is a felony wiretap statute.
RS: Is that
a state, local or federal statute?
CG: It's a
state law intended to make wiretapping illegal. Clovis Watson filed a sworn
complaint as a police officer himself, and as City Manager he was the
aggrieved party, as police commissioner he was his own boss and accepted the
sworn complaint from himself and then instructed his subordinates on the
police force to have me arrested! All along, he is the defendant in the
elections lawsuit we filed!
did the Mayor have to say about all of this?
Mayor (Jean Calderwood) had been appointed in the past by Jeb Bush. Her
husband was the treasurer of the James Lewis campaign. She's also a
defendant in the case. She's come out publicly in the newspapers over the
weekend saying that she was in constant communication with Clovis Watson to
arrange my being arrested ... She said Clovis Watson did not go out on a
limb alone, he was in constant communication with her ... She said that in a
letter to the editor of the newspaper editor.
RS: Can you
send me a copy of that editorial?
CG: Yes, I
will scan in that and some other documents.
was the arrest and what's the status of your case now?
I was arrested May 1st in City Hall.
A judge ordered my release by 5:00 that day. Someone in sheriff's office
decided to hold me over and we had to wake up another judge at midnight to
have the original judge's order [upheld].
RS: Did you
have to post bail?
CG: I was
released on my own recognizance.
happened since then?
CG: It only
got worse from there. I tried to get the records I'd been seeking. The city
put obstacles in our way and refused to turn over the documents. Michael
Canney, a member of the Green Party, came as a witness and saw me arrested.
He then began filing public records requests himself to get access to
records they've denied me Slowly but surely we began getting some
documents.... One that we've been asking for and still haven't given us is a
log of requests for all the absentee ballots. They think we are requesting
the log to find out who cast ballots so we could interview them. We already
know who cast ballots and are in the process of interviewing them. We have
another reason.... But the City officials, Clovis Watson sent out a
memorandum accusing us of intimidating voters and threatened to arrest us
RS: On what
Michael received a list of absentee ballot voters, not the one we requested
but another one, Clovis Watson sent a certified letter warning him about how
he uses that list. They then put an ad in the newspaper for the last two
weeks telling people who voted absentee that if we contact them, they should
contact the city so they can take legal action!
many people voted absentee ?
were about 120 requests for absentee ballots, of which 107 were counted.
Without all the records we can't say for certain anything.
there people who say they turned in an absentee ballot request but their
ballots weren't counted? In other words, do you have reason to believe there
was any destruction of ballots?
was destruction of ballots, but in a different context. Now on May 15th I
went into the City Commission; it decided to try to pass the conclusions of
election in a consent agenda item, which is illegal. I went to that meeting
and attempted to have them follow rules and law. They threatened to have me
arrested that night. After that meeting, the Mayor sent a memo to Clovis
Watson asking him to have me arrested.
RS: On what
I violated conditions of my release from jail by attending a meeting, they
called it disruption. Of course my "disruption" was to basically make points
of order, formal motions under the rules. That they called disruptive.
you arrested again?
CG: No, but
they were threatening to; it came very close. Last week the city commission
met again. They thought I would be there but I wasn't there for other
reasons. But the City had arranged to have a local TV station there and they
were going to arrest me that night on TV. Clovis Watson, when he arrested me
the first time on May 1st , sent out press releases to the media so it was a
very staged event.
RS: How is
the media responding? Is there any outrage?
Gainesville Sun, which is the biggest paper in town, their coverage hasn't
been the best but they did run an editorial and a great editorial cartoon
and they are very concerned about it. Now Hugh Calderwood, the mayor's
husband and Stafford Jones the chairman of the Republican Party for Alachua
County and the Republican Party of Alachua County has put up a website
designed to attack me and draw a line in the sand for Alachua County, which
they designate as a model of how a city should be run. The High Springs Herald has done the best job so far of reporting
this. They have been reporting it weekly. Another, the Observer is not
online but we'll be putting it up online today.
there been any national coverage?
first national was in LA CityBeat on Thursday, an article by Andrew Gumbel,
who wrote the book Steal This Vote.
week the Sheriff's office and the Sheriff, a guy named Steve Oelrich, a
Republican running for the State Senate right now, on Friday I was contacted
by the Gainesville sun and informed (because they alerted the newspaper and
not me) that the Sheriff's office is filing two further complaints against
me for unlawful taping. They are accusing me of felony violations of the law
and now filing two charges against Michael Canney for videotaping. The irony
of this of course, is that when I contacted the television news with
videotape of one of the incidents that they (the officials) claim Michael
violated the law by videotaping, Michael videotaped me audio taping Clovis
Watson. But the television station was there too, videotaping. They showed
this on the news, yet Michael and I are being charged with videotaping while
the television station isn't - and they were there doing the exact same
thing at the exact same time. That's how absurd this whole thing is.
will these charges be heard?
State Attorney's office has not formally charged us, but they've refused to
drop the charges, so they are playing this game of harassment. They know the
minute they drop the charges we will go on the offense and bring false
arrest and civil rights charges. To make matters worse, the former state
attorney who many in state attorney office work for is Rod Smith, a Democrat
running for Governor. Rod Smith is from Alachua and he wrote Clovis Watson's
dual office-holding contact.
Clovis Watson a Republican?
Watson is a Democrat who the Republican Party says on their website is
coming over to the Republican Party. But Rod Smith is a player. There is
another dimension to what's happening in Alachua County. The County of
Alachua is one of the two Democratic voting areas in Florida; the rest of
the state has gone Republican. The Republican Party has taken over the City
of Alachua and basically opened it up for drive-through development. There
are all kinds of land deals where these city officials and cronies are
benefiting by development of land, including Rod Smith. We're talking a
Wal-Mart distribution center, a Wal-Mart super-center and a Home Depot ...
They can't get these developed in Alachua County so they absolutely have
control over some of these small towns. They are just opening doors for
unrestrained growth and development - multi-millions of dollars changing
RS: What is
the party affiliation of the other key players?
Henderson - I have no idea. He used to be a journalist I believe;... I'm
told he may have family relationship with one of key political players.
Calderwood, the Mayor, is a Republican appointed by Jeb Bush; she also
served on the water board which had to approve the development for all of
this. Her husband, Hugh Calderwood, he and chairman of Rep. Party are
putting all this stuff on the attack site openly under their own names now.
It used to be done anonymously on blogs. Steve Oelrich, the Sheriff, is a
Republican. Bill Cervone, State Attorney, is a Republican. He was assistant
State Attorney under Rod Smith, the Democrat.
RS: So this
is basically Republicans abusing power and causing these problems, except
for Smith and Clovis, who's converting to become a Republican?
are some Democrats, old style southern Democrats who are very development
oriented. As for Clovis being recruited by Republicans, I don't think there
is any Democrat in the county who would miss him. If you see the free
Alachua site, there are all kinds of charges of corruption within the police
dept under Clovis, a number of allegations going on around that. When you
start seeing the stories and documents it will blow your mind.
optimistic are you about the outcome of all of this, and what are the
CG: If you
can clean up one city, you can clean up the whole country. But if you can't
clean up one city, we have no chance at the national level. I see a lot of
significance in this one case, because it is a small example of what's going
on nationally, and it's a lot easier to tackle corruption at the local
level, which is the root and foundation of national problems. I'm confident
in the end that in terms of justice, I know that what we are doing is on the
side of justice. What these officials know is that they have the power and
authority and they can abuse it with very little repercussions to themselves
normally. They have a lot of power and resources. They are used to people
being afraid to stand up.... But as long as we keep fighting and pushing
this issue, I believe in the end that we will prevail. But it's a struggle
to do that. We have mounting legal bills and we are trying to raise money
nationally to help with that (see
for how you can help).
RS: Do the
officials there control the court system, too?
very much a company town, and it all depends on what judge we get.
Unfortunately, on our elections challenge case, we found that in another
open records case a few months ago the judge completely ignored the law, and
we've got that on appeal right now. This judge is Robert Roundtree, he is
also a Bush appointee. He basically threw out with prejudice a lawsuit filed
by the residents of the City of Alachua regarding this multi-million dollar
land deal that was the basis of the Wal-Mart land deal with a company called
Waco of Alabama. Their lawyer had medical problems at the time and missed a
filing deadline and the judge, instead of reprimanding the lawyer, used that
opportunity to throw out the case without ever hearing it on the merits, so
we don't have a lot of faith in him. But there are other judges in town. The
problem is that the more local you are, there is a culture among public
officials ... and they all have this unwritten rule to go after each other -
so nobody polices the police and nobody holds to account public officials.
They have nearly free reign in anything they do. There is one other factor.
On the Alachua City Commission, and thus the boss of Clovis Watson, is a
woman named Bonnie Burgess. She is running for the State House in the same
State House race I am, as a developer-friendly Democrat. These people are
supporting her run for that office as well - Clovis and the Calderwoods, the
powers-that-be in the City of Alachua.
RS: When is
your primary election?
else is in the race?
are three Democrats and one Republican, but this is a Democratic district,
so they know that whoever wins the Democratic primary is going to win the
|Voting Rights Act of
AN ACT To enforce
fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United
States, and for other purposes.
(a) Whoever shall deprive or
attempt to deprive any person of any right secured by
section 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 or shall violate section
11(a) or (b), shall be fined not more than $5,000, or
imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
(b) Whoever, within a year
following an election in a political subdivision in
which an examiner has been appointed (1) destroys,
defaces, mutilates, or otherwise alters the marking of a
paper ballot which has been cast in such election, or
(2) alters any official record of voting in such
election tabulated from a voting machine or otherwise,
shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not
more than five years, or both [p*351]
(c) Whoever conspires to
violate the provisions of subsection (a) or (b) of this
section, or interferes with any right secured by section
2, 3 4, 5, 7, 10, or 11(a) or (b) shall be fined not
more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five
years, or both.
(d) Whenever any person has
engaged or there are reasonable grounds to believe that
any person is about to engage in any act or practice
prohibited by section 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, or
subsection (b) of this section, the Attorney General may
institute for the United States, or in the name of the
United States, an action for preventive relief,
including an application for a temporary or permanent
injunction, restraining order, or other order, and
including an order directed to the State and State or
local election officials to require them (1) to permit
persons listed under this Act to vote and (2) to count
(e) Whenever in any political
subdivision in which there are examiners appointed
pursuant to this Act any persons allege to such an
examiner within forty-eight hours after the closing of
the polls that notwithstanding (1) their listing under
this Act or registration by an appropriate election
official and (2) their eligibility to vote, they have
not been permitted to vote in such election, the
examiner shall forthwith notify the Attorney General if
such allegations in his opinion appear to be well
founded. Upon receipt of such notification, the Attorney
General may forthwith file with the district court an
application for an order providing for the marking,
casting, and counting of the ballots of such persons and
requiring the inclusion of their votes in the total vote
before the results of such election shall be deemed
final and any force or effect given thereto. The
district court shall hear and determine such matters
immediately after the filing of such application. The
remedy provided [p*352] in this subsection shall not
preclude any remedy available under State or Federal
(f) The district courts of the
United States shall have jurisdiction of proceedings
instituted pursuant to this section and shall exercise
the same without regard to whether a person asserting
rights under the provisions of this Act shall have
exhausted any administrative or other remedies that may
be provided by law
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Introduction To Federal Voting Rights Laws
Any jurisdiction seeking additional information concerning its
eligibility to obtain the requisite declaratory judgment under Section 4 or
copies of previously submitted bailout provisions and consent decrees that
have been entered, should contact the Voting Section. You can call,
toll-free, at 800/253-3931 or write to:
Chief, Voting Section
Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania AV N.W. Room 7254 NWB
Washington, DC 20530
An attorney will then contact you to further discuss the matter.
]On Behalf Of
Saturday, October 14, 2006 11:04 PM
Another Republican dirty voting
trick?? First Fox News mislabeled Foley as a Democrat
- then mislabled Chaffee as a Democrat because he's behind
in polling - and now this...
Mistakes On 5,100 Absentee Ballots
Board Of Elections To Send Reprinted Ballots To Voters
UPDATED: 6:20 pm
EDT October 9, 2006
There are more troubles for the
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections just one month before the
state votes on a new governor.
center around the absentee ballots sent out to voters. A
weekend review revealed 5,100 ballots that have misprints of
one form or another, NewsChannel5 reported.
The review was
prompted by last week's discovery that 1,500 ballots in
Ohio's 7th House District race
listed the wrong
party affiliations for the candidates..
discovered over the weekend include one candidate's name
appearing smaller than his opponent's on the ballot because
of its length.
include punctuation problems with a couple of local ballot
questions. All the ballots in question are being reprinted
and will be mailed out to the voters who will be contacted.
"We will contact
them personally to let them know. We will also contact them
by the notification of the absentee ballots. We'll also let
the candidates know, and if they would like the list of
those registered voters who are impacted, they will have the
opportunity to contact those individuals themselves," said
board of election Director Michael Vu.
If a person
already mailed back their ballot, that ballot will be set
aside and the new ballot will be the one that is counted.
If no new ballot
is received, the board will decide on an individual basis
whether the initial ballot will be counted.
AMERICA: YOU DO NOT
HAVE TO BE AFRAID TO SAY THE "F" WORD
KEY ARTICLES IN THE SERIES SO FAR...
A DIEBOLD INSIDER SPEAKS!
Stock Hits 52-Week Low!
STOCK PLUMMETS! DOWN 15.5% AT TODAY'S CLOSE!
Weighs in on Diebold's Stunning 15.5% Wednesday Stock Plunge
Stock Falls Another 7% in Early Trading...
Tough Luck, VR's Promise, and a New Ad for America from the Velvet
Story Picked Up by Cleveland Plain Dealer
Me & Ann Coulter, Election Reform & The BRAD SHOW LIVE!
GAO REPORT CONFIRMS CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY OF ELECTRONIC VOTING
POTENTIAL SECURITIES FRAUD CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST DIEBOLD IN
Plaintiffs Sought for Addition to Class...
WALDEN O'DELL RESIGNS!
FRAUD LITIGATION IMMINENT!
Controversial, Partisan Head of Voting Machine Company Steps Down for
SECURITIES FRAUD LITIGATION FILED AGAINST DIEBOLD, INC!
Current and Former Executives Named as Co-Defendants, Including former
CEO O'Dell and New CEO Swidarski
ELECTION HACKED IN LEON COUNTY, FL!
Results Reversed! County Dumps Diebold!
Dropped in Volusia County, FL!
Expresses Concern About E-Voting Security in State
PACKING BY CALIFORNIA!
STATE WON'T RE-CERTIFY! (For Now)
State 'Punts' Issue Back to Feds for Further Testing on Security
Rejected by St. Louis County, MO!
Lobbyist Inquires Into BRAD BLOG and a Family Member!
Withdraws from North Carolina! (Again)
Refuses to Meet State Law Requiring Source Code Inspection by
Connecticut Drops Plans to Move to E-Voting Machines!
Feds Said to Approve Return to 'Lever-Style' Equipment!
Post Reports on Hacked Diebold Machines and Other Electile Dysfunctions
in Sunday Paper!
Reports Story of Last Month's Leon County, FL Election Results Flip
and Even October's GAO Report on Lack of Security, Accuracy in
Electronic Voting Machines!
Ohio! More Votes Than Voters on Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machines!
Capitulates in Alaska...Sorta
Waives 'Proprietary Rights' to Public Voting Data Files, But Reserves
Right to 'Manipulate the Data' Before Release!
PLUS: CEO Swidarski Works the PR Rope Line, Suggests Diebold's Election
Division May Be For Sale!
May Be Getting Out of Election Business!
CEO Swidarski Sends Signal in Interview!
Republican Governor Issues Devastating Blow to Diebold!
Calls for Paper Ballots, Decries Lack of Security, 1000% Increase
in Maintenance Cost for Diebold Voting System!
In Letter to Election Board, Guv of Diebold's Model State Declares He
'No Longer Has Confidence in Their Ability to Conduct Fair and Accurate
SOS RECERTIFIES DIEBOLD AGAINST STATE LAW!
Waits Until 5pm Friday on Holiday Weekend to Announce "Conditional
Does not wait for Federal review, own analysis shows machines to be
Candidate in MD Condemns Diebold, State Election Board
Calls for New Machines, Points to Diebold Failures in State
Washington Post Editorial Calls for Paper Trails in MD
Campaign to Call for E-Vote Vendor Subpeonas in CA
Diebold Re-Certification Raises Many Questions, Concerns
Infrared Ports on Diebold Machines Raise Questions
Data Transfer Shown Possible Despite CA SoS' "Safe Guards"
Senator Says Diebold Re-Certification Violates State Law!
Senate Elections Comm. Chair Sends Letter to SoS Calling for Reversal
Says Federal Laws, Guidelines Also Violated
DISASTER: Company Gets 'F' From Election Board Chairman as Machines Fail
All Over Cuyahoga County, OH on Primary Day
Voting Machines Refuse to Power Up, No Paper Ballot Backups, 17,000
Absentee Ballots Must be Counted by Hand
DISCOVERED DIEBOLD THREAT DESCRIBED AS 'MAJOR NATIONAL SECURITY RISK'!
Voting Systems in Question Were Used Last Week in Ohio Primary, Soon
in Pennsylvania, So 'Serious' Few Details Are Being Released
All Diebold Touch-Screen Machines, In All States, Said to be Affected by
'Horrifying' Vulnerability, Systems 'Sequestered' in PA
INVESTIGATION OF DIEBOLD UNDER WAY!
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Announces 'Informal Inquiry'
into Accounting Practices of ATM, E-Voting Giant!