What Went Wrong in St. Louis Police Union?
ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–More questions of what went wrong at the St. Louis Police union, as members prepare to recast their votes for an election that may have been tainted.
The mid-September election of the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association gave Sgt. Dave Bonenberger a narrow, 15-vote victory over incumbent President Sgt. Tom Walsh. Those results have been tossed out by the Association Board, after blank ballots were found in a secretary’s desk.
Now, an attorney for Bonenberger is questioning whether the losing side is hyping voter fraud allegations so they can have another chance to win at the ballot box.
“It is just a power play by the incumbent board to get another bite at the apple,” said attorney Jeff Jensen, “Clearly the call for a re-do of this election is an attempt to get the results that they want.”
Jensen says his investigation found the now-fired secretary, Pat Heisner, did nothing wrong. Jensen says Heisner had 13 “control copies” of the ballots from each of the 13 districts along with some ballot envelopes.
“These were envelopes from last year’s election. The names on the envelope of the accounting firm is the accounting firm’s name from 2010,” Jensen said, “So, they’ve said that there were ballots and envelopes, trying to make the connection that somebody could’ve been stuffing ballots, but it’s just absolutely ridiculous that somebody would try to stuff a control copy of a ballot in last year’s envelope.”
The Business Manager for the Association, Jeff Roorda, says there’s no way to prove ballot stuffing did not occur.
“We can’t verify that, because the accounting firm did not retain the envelopes the ballots were received in,” Roorda said.
Jensen says throwing away the envelopes was standard procedure of the accounting firm.
“They were doing exactly as they were supposed to do, “Jensen said, “If they want to come back now and say they didn’t like them destroying the envelopes, why didn’t they say that before?”
Roorda also find it suspicious that the secretary had “control copies” of the ballots in her office. “We’ve got all her files going back years and years, and we found no other control copies of ballots.”
Another question was whether a list was kept of Association members to whom the ballots were distributed. Roorda says no list was kept. Jensen says the list has now been found.
“I’ve told them where the list can be found,”Jensen said, “It was on a microsoft access file on their computer system.”
“That’s an outright lie,”Roorda said, “The list was not found. We have the data base of our members that’s supposed to be used for our members. The list (not found) was a list of printed mailing labels that was not saved as a document on any Association computers and not copied by the accounting firm before they mailed out the ballots.”
Jensen says the fired secretary, Pat Heisner , created the list and reconciled it against the payroll records three times with an Association employee named Mike Venker.
Jensen accuses Roorda of having a personal interest in the election. “It was clear as a bell that he (Roorda) may not have a job, if Bonenberger wins,” Jensen said, “So, a day later they fire Pat Heisner (the secretary) and the same night they decide to nullify the election, they give Roorda a $300,000 five-year contract where he can only be terminated if he consents to it.”
Roorda admits he might be biased.
“That’s why we brought in a long-time Association attorney to conduct this investigation,” Roorda said, “I don’t know where my bias enters into this. We have a trusted, veteran attorney we tasked with this investigation and his findings were incontrovertible .”
Roorda denies he wanted the election done over to ensure he could have a job.
“I work for the entire executive board, not the president,” Roorda said, “The executive board hired me, and only the executive board can fire me. A change in one member of that 19 member board does not imperil my employment.”
Roorda says his contract is a three-year deal with a two-year option.
The election gets underway Tuesday and runs for fifteen days.