Kenneth Blackwell: Pontificating from on high
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:05:24 PM EST
Still under fire for dirty tricks in the 2004 presidential election, Blackwell, the Republican gubernatorial loser, is under the wing 0f Tony Perkins' Family Research Council

Kenneth Blackwell, the former secretary of state of Ohio, took up ideological residence at the Family Research Council earlier this year. His repositioning was the result of having been trounced last November in that state's gubernatorial contest at the hands of the Democratic Party's Congressman Ted Strickland.    

Over the years, Blackwell has carried enough water for the GOP to fill up a good part of Lake Erie. He's done enough dirty work to pave the Interstate from Cleveland to Columbus. He is credited with being part of the team that helped double President George W. Bush's vote count among Blacks in Ohio in 2004, and is charged, by critics, of having tampered with that vote. So despite his humiliating defeat, he remains a darling of both religious and economic conservatives.

Pontificating from on high

J. Kenneth Blackwell, who besides being Ohio's former secretary of state has also been the former undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, has landed firmly on his feet in the nation's capital.

Earlier this year, the Family Research Council (FRC) announced that Blackwell had been hired on as a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at Washington's premiere right wing religious lobbying outfit. "Over the years, we have known and worked with Ken Blackwell on the toughest issues facing families and our country," said FRC President Tony Perkins in a news release dated March 14. "We have witnessed Ken's willingness to stand and fight for preserving marriage and defending the unborn. His unwavering commitment to tax relief and conservative fiscal policies has supported family enterprise."

Blackwell rails against the Fairness Doctrine

In one of his first public appearances as an FRCer, Blackwell spoke out against congressional efforts to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) lapsed Fairness Doctrine, at a forum sponsored by Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation (FCF):

"If it passes [The Media Ownership Reform Act, which would bring back the Fairness Doctrine] radio stations that air conservative talk shows to also air liberal shows, regardless of their listener interest or sponsor support," he explained. "It is a strategy that intends to silence ... voices with whom the left disagrees."

According to OneNewsNow.com (a news site run by Donald Wildmon's American Family Association), Blackwell said:

"liberals are 'terrible' at talk radio, noting that liberal spokesman Al Franken never competed with Rush Limbaugh and fellow liberal Jerry Springer never competed with Sean Hannity, as they promised -- and that Air America Radio, the left's failed attempt at liberal radio, 'became a better punch line than a bottom line.'"

"While liberals hold a virtual monopoly on broadcast television and print news, many on the left just can't stomach the reality of a dominant conservative presence on talk radio," Blackwell stated. "They want to give Mr. Franken or Mr. Springer and their talk-radio comrades something they cannot obtain on their own: market share." If they aren't able to effectively compete with the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity, Blackwell suggested that "they should focus on what they do best -- make ice cream."

Also appearing on FCF's panel were New York Post columnist Dick Morris, Cliff Kincaid of the right wing media watchdog group Accuracy in Media and America's Survival, and conservative talk show host Alan Nathan.

In addition to being a contributing editor for Townhall.com, Blackwell, praised in the FRC news release for his expertise in the fields of economics, tax reform and education, was also recently named the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions in Columbus, Ohio.

Blackwell: 2004's Katherine Harris?

As popular as he's been within Republican Party circles for being a dependable anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-school vouchers Black conservative -- he once called himself "Jesse Jackson's worst nightmare" -- Blackwell became the Katherine Harris of the 2004 election cycle when he was both the Chief Elections official of Ohio and the honorary co-chair of the "Committee to re-elect George W. Bush."

In a recent post at indybay.org, Steven Rosenfeld and Bob Fitrakis once again raised questions about whether "Blackwell or other GOP operatives inflate[d] the president's vote totals to secure George W. Bush's margin of victory?" Fitrakis is a political science professor and attorney in the King Lincoln Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit against Blackwell, and Rosenfeld is the co-author, along with Harvey Wasserman, of "What Happened in Ohio? A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election" (New Press, 2006).

According to Wikipedia, "Allegations of conflict of interest and voter disenfranchisement led to the filing of at least sixteen related lawsuits naming Blackwell. Regarding voter disenfranchisement, the US Court of Appeals ruled, in agreement with Blackwell, that provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling location should not be counted in the election."

Two years later, "Blackwell was also named in a 2006 lawsuit related to his office's public disclosure of the Social Security numbers of Ohio residents."

Blackwell served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush as undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989 to 1990. After losing a run for a congressional seat, President Bush appointed him ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, where he served from 1992 to 1993. Blackwell was elected treasurer in 1994 and was elected Ohio Secretary of State in 1998, and re-elected in 2002.

Blackwell bucked the GOP establishment by supporting an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage in 2004, which passed with more than 60 percent of the vote.
In coming out so forcefully against gay marriage, Blackwell became the darling of the religious right, both locally and nationally. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Ted Wendling,

"Blackwell was invited to join the Arlington Group in the summer of 2004 after he was identified as a leader of the anti-gay marriage movement by Arlington Group co-founder Donald Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss." (Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, is the group's other founder.)

Wendling pointed out that the Arlington Group "a powerhouse, by-invitation-only organization whose roughly 60 members have direct access to the White House." In a recent story in the New York Review of Books, Frances Fitzgerald described the Arlington Group as "a forum [headed by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson] where the leaders of more than seventy 'pro-family' organizations meet to discuss strategies."

"One of the reasons I'm so high on Ken Blackwell, and he shares this perspective, is that this is not just another skirmish in the culture war," Stephen Crampton, an Arlington Group member who serves as chief counsel at Wildmon's Center for Law and Policy, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In addition, Phil Buress, head of Citizens for Community Values, the group that poured nearly $1.2 million into the campaign to ban gay marriage in Ohio, and who sits on the Arlington Group's executive committee, became a major Blackwell backer.

His run for governor was also strongly supported by two very controversial right wing pastors, the Rev. Rod Parsley, head of the World Harvest Church, and the Rev. Russell Johnson, the senior pastor of the evangelical Fairfield Christian Church -- key organizers of the state's so-called "Patriot Pastors" and the "Ohio Restoration Project." (For more on the rise of Parsley and Johnson, see "The Evangelical Surprise" by Frances Fitzgerald, the New York Review of Books, April 26, 2007.)

Before the 2006 election, Paul Weyrich, who headed the Heritage Foundation, where Blackwell was an analyst in 1990, said that he "represents the only chance the Republicans have in Ohio."
Blackwell was also the subject of an extensive and glowing pre-election profile by Steven Malanga in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal (Winter 2006). At the time of his story, Malanga pointed out that Blackwell had "taken an early lead in the race for governor of a state that was key to reelecting George W. Bush and that may well be even more crucial in picking the next American president," and that he stood "at a pivotal point in American politics."
"Blackwell," Malanga noted, "built his early lead not by tacking toward the center of this swing state but by running on an uncompromisingly conservative platform that's won him grassroots support from both Christian groups and taxpayer organizations..."

Ken Blackwell has so many people worried because he represents a new political calculus with the power to shake up American politics. For Blackwell is a fiscal and cultural conservative, a true heir of the Reagan revolution, who happens to be black, with the proven power to attract votes from across a startlingly wide spectrum of the electorate. Born in the projects of Cincinnati to a meat-packer who preached the work ethic and a nurse who read to him from the Bible every evening, Blackwell has rejected the victimology of many black activists and opted for a different path, championing school choice, opposing abortion, and staunchly advocating low taxes as a road to prosperity. The 57-year-old is equally comfortable preaching that platform to the black urban voters of Cincinnati as to the white German Americans in Ohio's rural counties or to the state's business community.

However, despite support from both the religious and secular right, Blackwell lost in a landslide to Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland by a 24 percent margin (he received only 20 percent of the Black vote.)

In his post election analysis Joe Hallett, senior editor at the Columbus Dispatch and a long-time watcher and admirer of Blackwell, wrote: "Of his campaign, almost no campaign Blackwell could have conducted would have won. But the campaign he waged arguably made him lose by such a wide margin. It was an in-your-face campaign bereft of humility, a campaign of controversial moves and proposals, and one that personally vilified anyone who dared to push back, even fellow Republicans."

The tone was set on February 20, candidate filing day, when Blackwell held a news conference to unveil the television attack ad he was airing against his GOP primary opponent, Attorney General Jim Petro. The attacks never stopped, and Blackwell came out of the primary victorious but broke and with a negative image among voters.

Before leaving office in early January Blackwell generously gave state funds "including bonuses or severance packages ... to 23 employees ... and [there was also] unplanned or one-time expenses such as attorney fees to settle lawsuits filed against Blackwell's office," the Associated Press recently reported. The "current state Controlling Board approved ...added funds that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner requested to run her office until the new two-year state budget takes effect July 1 .... [because] Brunner, a Democrat, "said her office needed the additional $2.5 million because ... Blackwell spent two-thirds of the secretary of state's budget halfway through the fiscal year."

In a Townhall.com post-election analysis written earlier this year, Blackwell said: "Our conservative causes are just as true and worth fighting for as they were on November 6 (the day before the election). So, we must keep perspective, and continue. We must encourage others to also remain engaged in the struggle -- to be a force for living change. In more than thirty years of pubic service one thing I have learned is that the only way a cause is truly lost is if the army is scattered and resolved to defeat."

During a late-April speech in Columbus, Ohio, Blackwell attributed GOP losses in November to what the blog A Good Choice termed "protecting the status quo" and "not liv[ing] and act[ing] by their conservative principles." A Good Choice noted that Blackwell "also said that we should never let any defeat or failure be a period, but only a comma and to continue to be involved."

According to blog of Ned Ryun -- the son of Jim Ryun (the former Kansas Republican Congressman) and the former presidential writer for George W. Bush and Director of the Generation Joshua home-schooling program -- the "Word on the street is that ... Blackwell is thinking about running for Senate in 2008 [sic -- Voinovich's term is up in 2010] or Governor in 2010." Now that he has a major league platform at the Family Research Council, expect to hear a lot more from Blackwell in the coming months and years.




Display:
As an Ohio resident, I was eager to keep Mr. Blackwell out of the governor's office, and we had the good sense to elect Ted Strickland. Republicans had a lousy track record to deal with-we saw Bob Taft IV, while sitting as governor, plead guilty to accepting unreported gifts, there was the Republican involvement in Tom Noe's shenanigans in getting the Bureau of Workers Compensation to invest in rare coins, at the expense of the injured workers who are supposed to benefit from the BWC funds, and there was Blackwell's dubious conduct in the 2004 presidential elections and the cash payments you mentioned in your article. To me, it was a blatant conflict of interest for Mr. Blackwell to serve as Ohio's secretary of state and as chairman for Bush's reelection campaign. Unfortunately, the national press seems to be little interested in investigating these conflicts.
I don't suppose that it has occurred to Mr. Blackwell that blatant hypocrisy, not neglect of "conservative values" has not played well with Ohio voters.

Mr. Blackwell's son Rahshaan is having some difficulty in getting his character and fitness petition approved to take the Ohio bar exam. It seems that Rahshaan took the Ohio bar at least two times before and on both occasions, he continued writing in his essay booklet after the exam proctor called time on the exam. I took the Ohio bar exam in 1993, and you'd better stop when the proctor calls time. In addition, there was the matter that Rahshaan mailed his application to take the 2005 Ohio bar exam when he was incarcerated in the Denver jail. It seems that Mr. Blackwell has been unable to pass his public piety onto his son, although in an article in my local paper, Mr. Blackwell publicly supported his son's application.

Somehow, it strikes me as entirely appropriate that Mr. Blackwell has jumped onto the wingnut welfare gravy train. Unfortunately, he continues to be as completely insulated from political and economic realities as he has ever been. He doesn't seem to realize that living in a bubble and associating himself with political corruption has had a lot to do with his loss to Ted Strickland.

by khughes1963 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 02:09:47 PM EST



It was interesting reading. He doesn't seem too nice this Mr Blackwell.....
Janine, Freelancer currently working on the Men's Health Online Pharmacies project.
by Janine on Sun Feb 24, 2008 at 05:07:10 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Remembering James Dunn: Baptist Champion Of Religious Freedom
When I began working for Americans United in 1987, one thing confused me: Why were there so many Southern Baptists hanging around?Southern Baptists were......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Resistance Is Futile: Some County Clerks Say `I Won't' To Marriage Equality
One week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court extended marriage equality nationwide. So where are we now?To no one's surprise, leaders of the Religious Right......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Celebrating July 4th
A decade or so ago I was vacationing in Hot Springs,  Arkansas.  It was July 4th and I attended the First Baptist Church in......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Nine Mainline Protestant Christian Martyrs
This is a tricky time for the Christian Right. Immediately following the mass murder at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Top Southern Baptist Official Admits Churches Won't Be Forced To Marry Same-Sex Couples
For years now, Religious Right leaders have been whipping up hysteria by claiming that, should marriage equality become the law of the land, conservative......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
The Pope, Climate Change and the Catholic Right.
The conservative criticism of Laudato Sii, ("Praised Be"), Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment and poverty that began even before its release, has now......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
Simply Put -- LGBTQ rights are not a threat to religious freedom
I'd like to underscore the conclusion of this piece, which is crossposted from LGBTQ Nation.  The advance of civil rights for LGBTQ people is......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Pluck Of The Irish: Same-Sex Marriage Vote Shows Yearning For An End To Clerical Domination
A provocative headline from Reuters news service last week caught my eye. "Irish plunge stake through Catholic Church's heart," it read.The headline is perhaps......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Religification as a Tool of Massive Resistance to LGBTQ Equality
So much of the contemporary religious liberty campaign being conducted by the Christian Right is demagogic fear-mongering designed to justify discrimination against other Americans,......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Happy Birth (Control) Day!: A Golden Anniversary That Shouldn't Be Overlooked
American women today enjoy a right that for thousands of years of human civilization was virtually unheard of: The power to decide if they......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
GOP Gov. Pat McCrory Did The Right Thing
Republican Governor Pat McCrory did the right thing -- and in so doing showed the way for conservative Christian Republicans in the age of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Dinosaurs in South America and Other Legends
In the early seventies I made a visit to church members.  I was with Dr. Bill Hendrix, one of the most distinguished theologians in......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
The Christian Right's Claims of Persecution by the Secular State Ring Very Hollow
Religious exemptions to various laws and regulations have been much in the news in recent years, particularly in relation to the advance of LGBTQ......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
The JFK Speech That Made Santorum Want to Throw-Up
On February 26, 2012, (when I first published this post), the heated GOP presidential primaries were getting hotter as the Christian Right sought to......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)

Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (11 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (5 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.