Chapter 2 of Bev Harris’s book Black Box Voting tells the story of former Nebraska Governor Chuck Hagel.

Hagel won a surprise landslide election against a Democrat who had been leading in the polls. What’s suspicious is that the votes were counted by machines produced by Hagel’s former company, American Information Systems (later renamed ES&S). Hagel had left the company two weeks before launching his campaign.

Hagel apparently hid the facts about his leadership of and investment in AIS when he submitted required disclosure forms.

Chuck Hagel official photo

Chuck Hagel official photo

(He looks like a Republican, doesn’t he?)

This story was also covered by Commondreams, by Thom Hartmann, and by the Hill, which states that “ES&S makes ‘half’ the voting machines used today, and 85% of the ones that elected Hagel in ’02 and ’96 (i.e. nine months before he upset Nelson. ) ” The Hill article and Harris’ book allege a coverup in ethics investigations and a forced resignation.

The reason I’m bringing this up now is that the wikipedia article about former Chuck Hagel does not mention the story. However, the discussion page for the Wikipedia article does mention the issue. Apparently, someone deleted the story from the article, saying, “The issue is twofold – the article shouldn’t get overwhelmed by voting machine information, it’s simply not all that relevant past what’s there at the moment, and the issue of voting machines often has a lot of unreliable sources to go along with it.”

Seems like a whitewashing job to me. Here’s part of what the discussion page says:

Hagel is the former head of American Information Systems Inc. (AIS), which changed its name to Electronic Systems & Software (ES&S) in 1997. ES&S currently provides a very large percentage of inauditable “black box” voting machines. These machines have been the focus of intense scrutiny since the 2000 Presidential election due to their susceptibility to fraud and tampering.

Hagel has been widely accused of covering up his continued involvement in the management of ES&S after he became a Senator. After joining the Senate, he failed to inform the Senate Ethics Committee that he still ran ES&S. After stepping down as the CEO of ES&S he moved his financial holdings in ES&S to its parent company, the McCarthy Group Inc. He classified his McCarthy Group holdings as an “exempted investment fund,” an exception intended for widely held publicly available mutual funds. On May 23, 1997, Victor Baird, the Director of the Senate Ethics Committee for 20 years was forced to resign due to investing this scandal. After Baird’s resignation, the mainstream media no longer discussed Hagel’s ethics issues.

I may add the story back in to wikipedia, but I’d prefer that someone more knowledgeable about the story do that.  This month’s issue of American Prospect calls on progressives to take the initiative and edit wikipedia articles on political topics, to make sure that the articles present a balanced account.

Harris’ book is scary, as is the book of essays Loser Take All — Election Fraud and the subversion of democracy, 2000-2008.  One really suspects that we no longer live in a democracy.