Wild story in my inbox this morning: while temping as a word processor at the Los Angeles office of mega-law firm Jones Day, Steve Heller uncovered several documents indicating the installation of uncertified software in voting machines manufactured by Jones Day client, Diebold Election Systems, Inc. Two years after bringing the shenigans of his former employer to the light of day (that would be–ahem–just before the November 2004 election), Heller is being charged with three counts of felony by the Los Angeles District Attorney, supposedly under pressure by said former employer.
The email alerting me to all of this came from my friend, Peter Soby, Jr., a local film and theater producer, who has written a detailed and eloquent account of the nightmare for the Huffington Post. It’s a harrowing story of bullying, obfuscation and foul play on many counts; the worst of it is that this TEMP WORKER is now facing possible prison time for exposing a pretty serious case of potential voter fraud.
Peter includes several suggestions for helping to raise the profile of Steve’s case in his post, along with talking points and contact information. Additionally, the comments section had an excellent suggestion for bringing Steve’s plight to the forefront–get a big Hollywood dealmaker to offer him money for rights to the story.
To me, the story is outrageous from several standpoints, but mainly it’s befuddling since California supposedly has a Whistleblower Protection Act in force (one commenter in the Soby post thread even pasted a story about reinforcement to that act a few years ago). I’m sure every temp has to sign an NDA at Jones Day, so yes, technically Steve Heller was breaking some kind of law. On the other hand, his employer if his employer was implicitly involved in felonious activities obstructing democracy…well, you do the math…
UPDATE: Sorry about that initial double-posting. I’m blaming it all on my horrible DSL connection in the beautiful hills of Silver Lake. Some items that went missing from the original post:
Image by vaguely_artistic via Flickr.
Good site on various federal and state whistleblower laws here.