- They're commonplace in developing countries in different
forms, at times through what Edward Herman calls "Demonstration Elections,"
the title of his 1980 book on sham ones in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador
and Vietnam. They also occur regularly in countries like Egypt, where for
the past 20 years president Hosni Mubarak has gotten around 98% of the
vote when he runs. Sadam's Iraq, much of the Middle East, and elsewhere
work the same way, holding mock elections pretending to be real, while
in the West, especially America, real elections are, in fact, mock ones.
- Of course, elections held in occupied countries, like
Iraq and Afghanistan, install puppet regimes, not legitimate ones, both
countries run from Washington, not Baghdad or Kabul.
- America's history is rife with electoral fraud, in 1824
for example, the one called the "Corrupt Bargain." Four major
candidates were involved, all from the same Democratic-Republican party,
today's Democrats who are also Republicans who are also Democrats in our
one-party state with two wings - plus the lunatic fringe Tea Party offshoot
likely to send extremist morons to Congress, joining legions of others
- When all 1824 votes were tallied, no winner emerged,
so under the 12th Amendment, it fell to the House to decide from the top
three. On February 9, 1925, after a month of furious lobbying, members
chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson (later elected president in
1828 and again in 1832), Henry Clay and William Crawford. Outrage followed
because deal-makers prevailed over voters. It showed up when Adams nominated
Clay as Secretary of State, infuriating Jackson supporters. Thereafter,
Clay was dogged for striking a corrupt bargain, depriving Jackson, the
highest vote getter of the four.
- The 1876 election was even worse because Democrat Samuel
Tilden got today's equivalent of over two million more votes than Republican
Rutherford B. Hayes, and with 20 disputed Electoral College votes uncounted
led by 184 - 165. Yet a secretly struck "bargain of 1877" to
abandon Reconstruction and sell out freed Blacks handed the election to
- Another example was Lyndon Johnson's 1948 senatorial
primary win - until the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the most
blatant example of electoral theft in US history, according to some observers.
Historian Robert Caro is one, documenting how Johnson miraculously overcame
a 20,000 vote deficit to gain an 87 vote victory. According to Caro, it
wasn't "the only election....ever stolen, but there was never such
brazen thievery," and as they say, the rest is history.
- With today's modern technology, electoral fraud is easier
than ever, Stephen Spoonamore, a leading cyber crime expert explaining
how the "structures" of Diebold and other electronic voting
machines are inherently flawed. As a result, "There is a very strong
argument" that the 2000 and 2004 elections were "electronically
stolen, the hanging chads were just a distraction." Diebold machines
especially "are brilliantly designed (to) steal elections," so
losers are declared winners, and not just for president.
- Clear evidence shows the 2000 and 2004 elections were
stolen, the Supreme Court initially complicit by halting the Florida recount
on spurious grounds, and handing the election to Bush. Months later, when
it was too late to matter, the final tally showed Gore carried Florida
and the election.
- The 2004 election was worse because technology stole
it with electronic ease. Again Florida and Ohio made the difference, depriving
winner Kerry of the presidency. In both elections, media reports produced
a daily flow of disinformation masquerading as real news, hailing the illegitimate
winner when final results were announced, few knowing at the time they'd
- The 2008 election mirrored 1976, a year Carter was picked
to win, Ford to lose, for a one-term post-Nixon interregnum before Republicans
regained command. After eight years under Bush, a planned change of pace
anointed Obama. The McCain/Palin ticket was absurd. Discord rankled Republican
ranks. Many party faithful despised McCain because of his temperament,
unpredictability, legendary temper, and genius for making enemies. As for
Palin, AP said she knew more about fishing than world and national affairs.
Others called her an extremist, bigoted moron. In combination, they cinched
an easy Obama win, decided, in fact, before voters went to the polls
- American democracy is pure fantasy, elections and their
run-up mere kabuki theater, political consultants, PR wizards, and the
major media sharing lead roles. Everything is pre-scripted. Secrecy and
back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Party bosses
chose candidates. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined,
and cheated voters get the best democracy money can buy.
- Much of this surprises few, at least those thoughtful
enough to understand realpolitic's darker side. What may surprise is another
kind of electoral fraud, taking place in condominium board elections, at
least in Chicago, a city known for corrupt politics since the 19th century.
- Endemic in more recent times, it's because lax Illinois
campaign finance laws allow it. State residents say it's just the way it
is, and since 1972 alone, three governors (besides Blagojevich), state
legislators, two congressmen, 19 Cook County judges, 30 aldermen, and many
others were convicted of corruption.
- Since 1970, in fact, around 1,000 public officials and
complicit businessmen were caught and convicted, proving former Chicago
alderman Paddy Bauler right when he said, "Chicago ain't ready for
reform." Over time, only its form, methods, and stakes have changed
under a one-party system run by Democrats governing like Republicans.
- Condo Board Electoral Coups
- At 100 stories, Chicago landmark John Hancock Center
is America's sixth tallest building home to offices, retailers, restaurants,
other services, and about 700 condominiums in its upper floors. Opened
in 1969 as rental units, they became condos in 1973 under Sudler Property
Management, Inc., its web site saying:
- "Over the years we have learned that providing our
clients with superior service means re-defining our 'responsibility' as
'the ability to respond,' " among other ways through "efficient
daily operations, well-managed capital improvements, accurate accounting
records, and effective financial planning."
- Omitted was Sudler's dark side through over-assessments,
sweetheart deal contracts, lucrative kickback arrangements, and cheated
residents through blatant profiteering and rigged elections to assure enough
board members go along, don't object, or aren't informed so don't know.
- Preferred are a committed hard core, supplemented by
uninformed indifferent members, others who rarely attend meetings, many
who live part or most of the year away, and overall know little about building
activities or how Sudler mismanages them - for its benefit, not residents
to be exploited for maximum profit.
- The 40 year saga is too long and involved for an article.
- As a result, it's simplified, focusing on selected events
and important recent ones, but make no mistake. They reflect decades of
mismanagement, misrepresentation, manipulation, a lack of ethics, and blatant
fraud at the expense of residents, most unaware they've been scammed.
- On October 26, 1991, Chicago's Near North News headlined,
"Judge halts election at Hancock Center." Judge Monica Doyle
issued a restraining order following charges that the election was illegal
under a 1991 Illinois law, mandating all candidates be treated equally.
- Specifically, "official slates" (including
management endorsed ones) are prohibited, and all candidates must run at-large,
not one per floor as then Hancock bylaws stipulated. As a result then,
and in the 2009 (and perhaps 2010) election(s), legitimate candidates were
improperly bumped to exclude ones Sudler designated persona non grata.
- On January 19, 2003, former Hancock attorney Mark Pearlstein
headlined a Chicago Tribune article, "Validity of board election may
be challenged," saying he ran for his building's board, then belatedly
discovered election irregularities, including:
- -- the building manager (also an owner) solicited residents
through proxies to support certain candidates;
- -- asked at least one resident to change her vote pre-election;
- -- improperly counted most ballots privately in her office,
rendering the election invalid.
- Under Section 18(b)(10) of the Illinois Condominium Property
Act, candidates may be present during tabulations. However, managers are
prohibited from participating. Doing so is illegal. It's why most associations
use independent accountants.
- The 2009 board election had many irregularities, one
affecting this writer, a 40 year resident, directly. Enlisted, under false
pretenses against an alleged building manager conspiracy/smear campaign,
it was, in fact, a scheme to elect Sudler's handpicked slate.
- As a result, unwittingly, a supportive letter was written
and distributed to building residents, my instructions clearly saying it
was to be from me alone, with no letterhead, unconnected to Sudler, other
residents, or building politics - specifically the days away condo board
election and a Sudler endorsed slate, one vetted as rubber-stamp.
- Events unfolded as follows:
- A phone call alerted me that a cabal of residents, including
board members, wanted the building manager smeared and ousted for selfish
reasons they best could explain. Appalled, I agreed to write and have distributed
a letter endorsing him, urging residents back candidates supporting us,
not their self-interest, demanding the manager be retained, and stressing
it's our building and our choice.
- The conspiracy was bogus. No smear campaign existed then
or now. I was defrauded and unscrupulously used. As a result, I acted unwittingly
against my own best interests and that of most residents. It gets worse.
- Without my knowledge or consent, my content was altered,
saying I endorsed an enclosed slate. Doing so constituted fraud and perhaps
forgery. Sudler's preferred candidates won. Good ones representing all
residents lost, and the responsible individual became board president,
a position letting him manipulate board activities advantageously, unethically
and fraudulently for Sudler, not us, what, in fact, he's done.
- To clear my name and set the record straight, I insisted
that a new letter I'd write be immediately distributed to all residents.
I later learned many didn't get it, but it was too late to matter. The
damage was done. My initial letter had impact. As a result, Sudler's slate
won convincingly. The building remained mismanaged. My name was besmirched,
and it took many months to regain my reputation, those angered by my action
realizing I'd been had, and unwittingly used to represent Sudler, not building
- In addition, prior to the election, an endorsed building
manager slate went to about 200 residents, attorney Pearlstein calling
it "improper because it exceed(ed) the authority of the Agent under
the existing management contract. Further, the manager is an agent of the
Board of Directors, and the Board....is barred from endorsing candidates."
- However, the aspirant board president, subsequently elected,
did so ahead of the 2009 and 2010 elections. Without saying so specifically,
Pearlstein suggested the 2009 (and perhaps 2010) one was invalid because
Illinois condo law was violated. Results should thus be annulled. Residents
should be notified, and a new election held in strict compliance with state
- Action so far taken includes an ethics complaint filed
against the condo manager with the Community Associations Institute (CAI),
"a national organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent,
harmonious community associations (by) providing education and resources
to the volunteer homeowners who govern community associations and the professional
managers, community management firms and other professionals and companies
that provide products and services to associations."
- CAI has power to sanction or defrock condo managers if
ethics or other serious code of conduct violations are proved. Its Professional
Manager Code of Ethics is detailed and specific, requiring managers among
other duties to:
- -- "Comply with current (CAI) bylaws, standards
and practices....subject to all federal, state and local laws, ordinances,
and regulations in effect where the Manager practices;" and
- -- "Act in the best interests of the client (meaning
condo residents); refrain from making inaccurate or misleading representations
or statements; not knowingly misrepresent facts to benefit the Manager"
or his/her employer - in this case, Sudler.
- A lawsuit was also filed, now in "voluntary dismissal
without prejudice" status pending further developments to proceed
any time. Above all, aggrieved residents want others informed of shenanigans
committed harming their interests. Our home should be run for everyone,
not Sudler or complicit board members alone.
- Dirty federal, state and local politics are commonplace.
Surprisingly, condo elections are also tainted, at least in at Chicago's
Hancock Center, a city landmark for more than one reason.
- A Final Comment
- On May 6, 2009, Chicago Sun Times columnist David Roeder
headlined, "Condos to kick kickbacks?" saying area condo management
companies and building managers may be profiting from "contracts (let
to) preferred vendors."
- "Call it a procurement fee," he said, "a
kickback, or pay-to-play for the private sector," a practice that's
disturbingly common. According to Tim Sack, plumbing operations vice president
for TMS Mechanical, Inc., a city high-rise vendor:
- "To me, it's stealing from the people you are working
for," up to 15% or more of let contracts that over time to enough
vendors can amount to enormous sums, and it's one reason assessments are
- Without admitting wrongdoing, Joe Armenio, president
of Sudler Management Services, acknowledges that the company maintains
a preferred vendor list. Roeder, however, explained that property management
firms like the Habitat Co, Draper & Kramer (D & K), and the Building
Group have no "payback" schemes. D & K's CEO, Forrest Bailey,
said he negotiates bulk purchase deals with different vendors and passes
on savings to its buildings. Other firms, like Sudler, exploit them and
their residents for profit, most unit owners unaware they've been scammed,
let alone for decades like at Hancock.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour
on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and
Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.