The whistleblower lawsuit against voting machine company Hart InterCivic, as filed in federal court on behalf of former employee William Singer, has been withdrawn following a decision by the Supreme Court that makes pursuing the case nearly impossible, according to the law firm who originally filed the complaint.
The suit had been sealed for nearly two years as the Dept. of Justice asked for extension after extension during their decision on whether or not to join the case. Earlier this year, they ultimately decided not to join the case, as we reported last March, leaving the firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Echsner & Proctor, P.A to proceed on their own. The DoJ declines to join some 76% of such cases.
In the interim, while waiting for the DoJ, the case of Rockwell Intl Corp. v. U.S. [PDF] came before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the findings in that decision, as attorney Mike Papantonio told The BRAD BLOG, has "made it next to impossible to proceed with any and all federal whistleblower (qui tam) cases."
The decision found that Rockwell was required to pay millions of dollars under the federal False Claims Act to the federal government, but that the relator of the case --- the insider who blew the whistle --- was not entitled to any of that money, nor even for the millions of dollars accrued in legal costs since the amended complaint, filed with the Justice Dept., included information about which the relator did not have direct inside knowledge.
The SCOTUS finding, as expressed for the majority by Justice Antonin Scalia, may well hamstring future whistleblower cases in federal courts, according to legal experts.
"I used to think qui tam was the way to go," Papantonio told me as his firm was weighing their decision on how to proceed after the case was finally unsealed, "but now I just don't know anymore."
Papantonio's Florida law firm has used the qui tam laws successfully in the past, and has taken on giants such as the Tobacco Industry. After he and his radio partner Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had learned about Singer's case from The BRAD BLOG --- we originally reported Singer's extraordinary saga back in early 2006 --- they decided to launch the federal fraud suit on his behalf later that year.
(I was interviewed about the withdrawal of the federal case by Mike Papantonio for this weekend's Ring of Fire radio program, which he co-hosts with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.. A video version of the interview is also posted on their GoLeft.TV site. Both versions are now posted in full at the end of this article.)
Though the attorneys working on the case have gone out of their way to express their faith in both Singer and his remarkable complaint --- detailing more than 40 federal fraud allegations, and accusing Hart of doctoring voting machines, covering up system failures, including the loss and miscounting of votes, and other malfeasance, in order to attain contracts and payment under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 --- the chance that millions of dollars spent pursuing the case might be unrecoverable at the end of the process, even if successful, in light of the Rockwell decision, forced them to withdraw the complaint from federal court...
County ClerkDana DeBeauvoir said she is committed to a point-by-point review of the county's eSlate machines, in the wake of a federal whistle-blower's lawsuit alleging that Hart InterCivic overpromised and underdelivered on the machines. The organization Vote Rescue was on hand at Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting to provide copies of Hart technician William Singer's lawsuit, which alleges that Hart stretched reports of the performance of the eSlate in Ohio in order to secure its share of the $4 billion set aside in the Help America Vote Act. DeBeauvoir said she's not yet willing to pull the plug on the machines but would if she found significant problems in light of the lawsuit's allegations. Vote Rescue would prefer the county return its machines and choose to count ballots by hand.
The complaint charges fraud and other violations of the False Claims Act by Hart, including allegations the company failed to test its products properly, and frequently at all; withheld information from prospective clients about the potential loss of votes in its voting systems; dummied-up machines, reports, and test results presented to clients in sales presentations; and much more in an attempt to win state and county contracts and the federal money that came with them...
In Aurora, Illinois, today, Beacon News' Dan Campana files a very good report on the federal fraud suit filed against Austin, Texas, based voting machine company Hart InterCivic. The suit, alleging dozens of false claims and fraudulent activities by Hart in order to receive federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money, was filed originally by former employee turned whistleblower William Singer back in 2006, but did not become unsealed until March 27th, when The BRAD BLOG covered it, along with posting the full stunning complaint [PDF].
Beacon News is based in Kane County, IL, which uses the faulty Hart voting systems in question.
Campana's report today --- which quotes yours truly in a number of places --- is the only corporate media coverage of the lawsuit in the nearly three weeks since the case was finally unsealed. Until now, there's been the fairly extensive coverage found on this blog, an item on the same day the case was unsealed filed by Kim Zetter at WIRED's "Threat Level" blog (which we replied to here), and a very short squib from AP on the same day, which, according to a quick Google News search, was carried by only a single news outlet, CBS 4 in Denver.
(For the record, our extensively detailed and sourced report on Hart's attempted takeover of Sequoia late last week has been picked up by nobody, other than ComputerWorld where we, ourselves, filed a short summary report. That, despite officials from both Hart and Sequoia having confirmed the accuracy of our report, and the fact that Hart, which controls some 8% of the voting market in this country, is about to swallow up Sequoia Voting Systems, which controls 20% of it, to become the nation's second largest e-voting machine vendor. We'll know by Tuesday at the latest, most likely, if Sequoia was able to save itself from Hart's hostile takeover.)
So with a dearth of coverage anywhere but here, we can heartily recommend Campana's report on Singer's suit. His article includes comments from us (as mentioned), one of Singer's attorneys, Hart spokesperson Peter Lichtenheld (who shamelessly plays the tired old "conspiracy theory" card), some Election Integrity advocates from the non-partisan Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, and some state and local Kane County election officials who have deluded themselves into believing their Hart machines are safe for use in American democracy.
When Campana interviewed us for his story, we suggested he ask any of the election officials he planned to interview for a single piece of evidence to prove that any single vote, ever cast during an election on a Hart DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machine in the county, has ever been recorded accurately, as intended by a voter.
Though Campana references our challenge in his report ("Friedman contends no government officials can prove the votes cast on electronic machines can be accurately linked to tallies",) he doesn't quote any of the officials as being able to offer such evidence. Little surprise, because they can't produce such evidence. It's strictly impossible. Yet they continue to use these machines anyway.
But he does manage to get a few amusing and wholly unsupportable statements from some of those deluded officials. We're delighted to spend our Sunday dismantling them --- both the statements, and the officials...
Sitting in this week for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, David Bender joins Ring of Fire co-host/attorney Mike Papantonio to discuss, in the first five minutes of the show, the finally-unsealed qui tam fraud suit brought by Pap and RFK Jr's law firms against voting machine company Hart InterCivic, on behalf of former employee/computer technician turned whistleblower William Singer.
We had originally broken Singer's remarkable story back in 2006. Our conversations shortly thereafter with Kennedy, and then with Papantonio's lawfirm, led to the filing of the suit, alleging a host of improprieties and criminally fraudulent behavior by the voting machine company as they dummied up voting machines during sales presentations, and concealed known failures, such as the possibilities of lost and miscounted votes, in their systems.
Pap also notes, during discussion of the case, that the nearly-two years it had to stay sealed by law --- while the DoJ ate up time in deciding whether or not to join the case --- is unusual in and of itself. Normally, in such qui tam cases, the DoJ is given just 60 days to decide whether or not to join with the whistleblower on behalf of the United States. Pap also goes on to note what may, or may not, be a coincidence: the US Attorney in CO, where the suit was filed, was removed shortly after this case was brought in his district, but before the decision was ultimately made by the DoJ not to join the suit...For now...
UPDATE: Here is an audio version of the first five minutes of the show, for those who had problems using the video player above...
"The most serious thing any software company can do is not fully test its products," William Singer told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon about the federal fraud case he filed nearly two years ago, which has finally been unsealed by a judge as of today.
"To release a product for important purposes that has not been tested at all is quite shocking, I would say. Especially since it indicates that nobody can predict what, when, or how it might fail," Singer explained about the e-voting systems made by Hart InterCivic, for which he worked as a technician several years ago. "It would make a mockery of any certification."
Despite having some direct involvement in the case from the beginning, The BRAD BLOG has been unable to report any details on it for going on two years --- we haven't even been able to offer the names of the plaintiff or defendant in the case --- since originally reporting that it had been filed in federal court, due to the fact that it was under seal, waiting for the U.S. Attorney General to decide whether the DoJ would join the suit or not.
Singer's suit is the fraud case which originally made waves when it was first filed two years ago, with the aid of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Florida attorney Mike Papantonio, until it then went "underground" due to the legally mandated seal disallowing the plaintiff and his attorneys from offering any specific details to the public.
As AP reported today, the seal on that federal qui tam (fraud, false claims) complaint, brought on behalf of the United States by Singer against Hart, one of the big four American voting machines companies, has now been lifted, and the case may finally proceed as originally filed.
The BRAD BLOG has obtained the complete complaint and the judge's order lifting the seal...
Continuing in an exclusive BRAD BLOG series of Voting Machine Vendor and Election Fraud whistleblowers, another insider, from yet another voting machine company, has now come forward to reveal a myriad of known problems inside both the company and in several states and counties with whom they do business.
During last Tuesday's Primary Election in the state of Texas, scores of "computer glitches" --- as voting officials and electronic voting machine vendors like to refer to them --- were revealed occurred across the state. Many of those "glitches" occurred on electronic voting equipment manufactured and supplied to various counties in Texas by the Hart InterCivic company.
One such "glitch" occurred in Texas' Tarrant County, which encompasses Fort Worth. That "glitch" resulted in some 100,000 votes being added to the result totals across the county's paperless Hart-Intercivic "eSlate" touch-screen voting system.
Election Officials in Tarrant claim they didn't look into the problems on Election Night as the problem emerged because, as reported by the Star-Telegram last week, "they were dealing with a new system, new procedures and some new equipment."
The BRAD BLOG can now report, however, that according to a Hart InterCivic company whistleblower --- who also happened to have later worked as an "election programmer" in Tarrant County --- the problems with Hart InterCivic's systems in Tarrant County, Texas and elsewhere are not new at all. Not by a longhorn long shot.
Letters sent by William Singer of Fort Worth, a former Hart InterCivic "technical specialist" and Tarrant County election worker, to state officials back in July of 2004 warned of exactly such problems. The letters, obtained and published here for the first time exclusively by The BRAD BLOG, reveal that serious problems and concerns of possible election system meltdowns were already apparent with the Hart machines in Tarrant County long ago. However, the warning letters were all but ignored by both election officials and even state law enforcement officials.
The "glitch" in last Tuesday's primary, as reported the Star-Telegram, "caused Tarrant County to report as many as 100,000 votes in both primaries that never were cast." After the problem was discovered, they report, "the local turnout [dropped] from a possible record high of about 158,103 voters to about 58,000."
A review of several notarized letters sent by Singer to officials in both Texas and Ohio in 2004 warned of fraudulent activities, buggy software and hardware, dysfunctional testing and development procedures, unsecured working environments and possible criminal behavior by both Hart InterCivic and Election Workers in both states.
Singer --- who eventually resigned from the company and ended up working as an Election Programmer for Tarrant County, where last Tuesday's "glitch" occurred --- wrote of allegations that Hart illegally supplied specially prepared machines for testing to state election officials. Along with doing so, they also withheld a number of known security, programming and hardware flaws during official review and certification of the systems.