Incredibly enough, it's been ten years this month since we broke the story about vote-rigging software whistleblower Clint Curtis. It was certainly the biggest story we'd broken up until that time, in December of 2004, and, for some, it is still the story we may be best known for.
That's not surprising as it involves election fraud, touch-screen voting systems, Florida, a powerful Congressman, the Bush family, Chinese spies and several disturbing deaths.
For those not familiar with it, you can find a quick summary here. The index of most of the key articles in our years-long series, beginning with our 12/6/2004 exclusive on Curtis' sworn affidavit can be found at BradBlog.com/ClintCurtis. (And, yes, if you're looking for the horrifying NSFW "crime scene photos" of the main death involved in this case, those are here.)
In short, Curtis was a software programmer from Oviedo, FL who claimed in a sworn 2004 affidavit and then sworn testimony before members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, that he was asked to create a vote-rigging software prototype for touch-screen voting systems back in 2000 by then Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), a very powerful Republican in the Sunshine State and a close friend of the Bush family. At the time, Curtis worked for a company named Yang Enterprises, Inc., which had many contracts with NASA and the state of Florida. In 2000, when he says Feeney asked him to create the vote-rigging software, Feeney was both the Speaker of the FL House, as well as a registered lobbyist for Yang. Feeney would also go on to great ignominy due to his dealings with Republican uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
There is much much more to this story, much of which was also eventually told in Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, an award-winning documentary film by Patty Sharaf. It includes spying for China and at least two deaths in addition to the vote-rigging allegations, but I'll let you explore it all via the links above and/or in my all-new interview with Curtis from this week's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast
As it's been 10 years since we broke the initial story, it seemed a good time to get caught up with Curtis, reminisce a bit about the original story (and his eventual, gutsy, and at times hilarious campaign to run against Feeney for the U.S. House), as well as find out what he (and Feeney) have been up to since then --- even as we've been almost-continuously reporting on new developments in the case over the years since we originally broke the story in late 2004.
I gotta say I enjoyed this interview with Clint --- it was great to catch up with him --- and I hope you will too.
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Well, this sounds familiar, and for good reason...
In a 630-page deposition, released to the press yesterday, former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer described a systemic effort by Republicans to suppress the black vote. Referring to a 2009 meeting with party officials, Greer said "I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting." He also said party officials discussed how "minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party." Florida is currently embroiled in a controversy surrounding Gov. Rick Scott's (R) voter purge program, which disproportionately affects voters of color. Fifty-eight percent of Scott's original list of voters who were supposedly ineligible to voter were Hispanic while Hispanics make up only 13 percent of Florida's eligible voters. Greer and the GOP cut ties in 2010, and he is currently facing felony corruption charges.
In the debate over new laws meant to curb voter fraud in places like Florida, Democrats always charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote of liberal voting blocs like blacks and young people, while Republicans just laugh at such ludicrous and offensive accusations.
The entire matter echoes back to our initial 2004 exclusive on then Republican software programmer turned whistleblower Clint Curtis who had filed a sworn affidavit charging Florida Republican Tom Feeney had asked his company, Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), to create a vote-rigging software prototype in 2000.
At the time of his alleged meetings with Feeney, Curtis says the Congressman --- who had been Jeb Bush's Lt. Governor running mate in 1998 before becoming Speaker of the FL House and one of the most powerful elected officials in the state by 2000 --- discussed methods that he said the Republican Party had in place to "reduce the black vote" in the 2000 Presidential election.
After all these years writing about him here at The BRAD BLOG, it was fascinating, to say the least, to finally try and get some direct answers from the nation's most notorious former GOP lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff's take on the lack of morality at the heart of his crimes (he agrees to the failing, but seemingly only in part.)
His belief that details of his story have been misreported (such as his attempt to take out life insurance policies on the lives of tribal elders to help cover the lobbying debts of tribes he represented and/or mis-represented.)
His response to allegations of forced abortions and sex slavery in the sweatshops of his clients, the Northern Marianas Island (he denies knowledge of it having happened, and believes the claims were politically motivated.)
Whether he has done enough to tell the public the criminal truth about his former friends, colleagues, and highly placed elected officials who were the recipient of his bribes in the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress, and whether he needs to do so before the lobbying reforms he claims to seek can ever come to pass.
I am only sorry we didn't have more time, as I had so much more to ask about, and there were several topics I would have liked to have drilled down into much more detail in hopes of holding feet to fire. But he had another interview commitment at the bottom of the hour, I had promised in advance to get him off air in time to make it, and he committed (yes, it's all on tape, Jack!) to come back and continue the discussion in the future. I'll look forward to holding him to that.
After he left, for the second part of the hour, we continued with listener phone calls, and their take on whether Abramoff's purported conversion from infamous criminal to hopeful reformer can or should be trusted, or whether this is just the latest "con" by "Casino Jack". The caller responses were very interesting, and I'll welcome yours as well, in comments below...
It's been a while since we've checked in with election fraud whistleblower turned would-be politician Clint Curtis, so let's bring everyone up to speed. Clint Curtis is the computer programmer who was allegedly asked to write election-flipping software by former Florida Speaker of the House-turned-U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney (R) back in 2000. Curtis blew the whistle and testified, under oath and on video tape, before a U.S. House Judiciary Committee panel shortly after The BRAD BLOG broke the extraordinary story in late 2004. (Quick recap of the Curtis story and links to our years-long, in-depth coverage right here.)
Curtis fought back, taking on Feeney twice for his congressional seat, only to lose both times - the first to a fishy vote count in 2006 (which Curtis challenged with evidence in hand, only to be shot down by a Democrat-led Congressional committee) and the second time to a pro-Bush Blue Dog millionaire put up by the Dems in the 2008 primary. Feeney, dogged by Curtis' allegations, and an FBI investigation into his dealings with disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, would finally lose his seat in '08. (Curtis' story is covered in depth in the award-winning 2008 documentary film Murder, Spies & Voting Lies.)
You'd think that'd be enough politics for anyone, but not Curtis. He loaded up the truck and moved several hundred miles north of Beverly… Hills, that is. Now armed with a brand-spankin' new law degree, he is mounting one more assault on a Congressional seat --- this time in Northern California's 4th Congressional district.
Will this be another quixotic attempt? Or will the progressive Democratic candidate who ran unchallenged in the recent CA primary, finally break through, giving Congress a much-needed voice of reason and election integrity advocates a serious ally in the House of Representatives?
I recent spoke to Curtis about all of the above, and much more...
[Now UPDATED with audio archives at the bottom. Enjoy!]
It's my final night this week guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show. Mike will be back Monday, but until then, we'll be BradCasting our last show for a while again LIVE from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 9pm-Midnight ET (6p-9p PT). It's your last chance for a while to join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in!
The LIVE (and very lively!) chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG during the show, so come on by while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
So far scheduled for tonight's show...
GORDON PETERSON, a long-time Democratic Party activist from Dallas and a now-formerMalloy Show podcast subscriber who cancelled his subscription, in no small part, because he hates it when I guest host, believes I'm "election-wise clueless", a "Ludditte", doesn't like my "kneejerk halfassed crap" about getting rid of e-voting, and believes we need "MORE computers, rather than less" in our public election systems. He'll explain all of the above tonight! Should be a lively conversation!
PLUS: Everything else we didn't get to this week, including YOUR calls on anything you'd like at 877-520-1150, and your tweets to @TheBradBlog and whatever else comes up along the way...
The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates around the country and also on Sirius Ch. 146 & XM Ch. 167. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at affiliate GREEN 960 in San Francisco or via MikeMalloy.com.
POST-SHOW UPDATE: We had a terrific week sitting in for Mike and Kathy, and hope you enjoyed it even a fraction as much as we did. It was a great week of shows, and tonight (I don't think) was no exception. Audio archives all posted down below, and the archive of the chat room, as usual, below it (wherein Gordon showed up to take still more punishment after coming on air, for some reason)...
Wonder if our good friend, the alleged vote-rigging conspirator and high-flying Abramoff golf buddy, former Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), will finally get the starring role he deserves in this new documentary. We're very much looking forward to it...
By the way, this is just one of the upcoming films on GOP uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Another one, a theatrical re-telling of his story, is currently in production with Kevin Spacey starring as "Casino Jack," and me not starring, despite my best efforts, as the diminutive yet dangerous Tom Feeney.
I'll be appearing for a Q&A in St. Louis on Tuesday (12/15 @ 7:30pm), after a screening of Patty Sharaf's award-winning documentary, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story featuring both myself, and our reporting here at The BRAD BLOG on the Republican computer programmer turned vote-rigging whistleblower.
Hope you'll stop by and say hello! Here's a flier [PDF] if you're in the hood and feel like helping to spread the word!
(NOTE: If you're not near St. Louis, or even if you are, but would like to support our work, we are still offering DVDs of the film, as signed by both myself and Sharaf, as premiums to supporters of The BRAD BLOG. We enjoy no corporate or foundational funding, so we appreciate whatever you are able to offer to help us continue our work. See this item for details...)
Though I won't be there in person, the travelling Burning Fuse Film Festival hits Burlington, VT's Roxy Theater beginning today through October 1, and continues to feature Patty Sharaf's award-winning documentary, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story in which I'm featured quite prominently. Remaining screenings are: Fri 9/25 @ 1:15p, Sat 9/26 @ 1:00p, Sun 9/27 @ 5:00p, Mon, 9/28 @ 7:00p and Thu 10/1 @ 3:30p. If you've yet to see it, we'll strongly recommend you check out this entertaining and enlightening (if horrifying at times) documentary, based on our own years-long investigation of the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney vote-rigging scandal. More details on screenings and passes available here...
(NOTE: If you're not near Burlington, or even if you are, but would like to support our work, we are still offering DVD's of the film, as signed by both myself and Sharaf, as premiums to supporters of The BRAD BLOG. We enjoy no corporate or foundational funding, so we appreciate whatever you are able to offer to help us continue our work. See this item for details...)
[Updated: Former Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) responds to this article. Ney, convicted for his dealings with Abramoff, including a trip to Scotland, suggests Feeney may have been helped off the hook by friends in high places. See details and Ney's comments in UPDATE at bottom of story.]
Late last week, alleged vote-rigging conspirator and former three-term Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) was informed that the Department of Justice was dropping their two year probe into his 2003 lobbyist-paid junket with Jack Abramoff to play golf in Scotland, according to his attorney Robert Luskin (who also happens to be Karl Rove's criminal attorney).
The DoJ's investigation was stymied earlier this year by an appellate court decision disallowing their subpoena of Feeney's statements to the U.S. House Ethics Commission on the basis of Constitutional separation of powers. As we noted last month, the friendly Feeney finding was likely to foul the fed's felony fact-finding against the failed former Florida Congressman.
The Ethics Commission had, themselves, let Feeney off the hook on the last day in which Republicans controlled the panel before Democrats took over in 2007. He would agree to pay just $5,643 for the private plane trip and swanky vacation with rightwing lobbyists, despite court papers declaring the trip to have been worth approximately $20,000...
So whatever happened to that expected indictment of former Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) and alleged vote-rigging conspirator for, among other things, his 2003 Abramoff-funded junket to play golf in St. Andrews, Scotland?
The other two Congressman who took the trips with the disgraced, imprisoned Republican uber-lobbyist have been held, at least, partially to account (Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) spent time in jail, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) is still facing related indictments in Texas). Feeney ran a sad "apology" commercial --- five years later --- during his unsuccessful re-election bid in 2008, but since then has so-far escaped real accountability for that, and the many other allegations of corruption that helped see him listed as among Congress' "Most Corrupt" for four years running.
So what happened to Feeney's indictment? A D.C. Court of Appeals decision from February (as we reported at the time, when we also noted Feeney is now being repped by Karl Rove's criminal attorney) was finally unsealed last week likely explaining the answer --- at least for the delay of such an indictment...
If you're in the 'hood, spread the word and please drop in to check it out! It's horrifying, gripping, and even funny (and yes, I'm in it, but it's good anyway.) If you're not in that 'hood or can't get there, click here to see how you can get your own copy of the DVD version signed by both myself and filmmaker Patty Sharaf!
Recently, TPM asked their readers for casting suggestions for the upcoming biopic on Jack Abramoff, where Kevin Spacey is reportedly already booked to play the disgraced GOP uber-lobbyist:
They sought casting suggestions for 11 of the key players in the Abramoff scandals, sure to show up in the film. The resultant "Dream Team" of excellent choices for each were revealed last week.
But, amazingly, the TPM casting call overlooked one of the key players in the Abramoff scandal, our old friend, the disgraced now-former Republican Congressman from Florida, Tom Feeney, aka "Representative #3" in one of the key filings in the Abramoff affair. In 2003, Feeney accompanied Jack on the third lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland following trips with the disgraced now-former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) in 2000 and the disgraced now-former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) in 2002.
The TPM oversight must be corrected immediately. And, of course, I can think of just one person who'd be perfect --- for so many reasons --- to play the role of Feeney in the upcoming Abramoff film...
During the exchange between Rove and Roe, as reported by Schroeder, Rove tells Roe that he has a file on Feeney, and Roe, who was angry with Rove for cracks he'd made on Fox "News" at Feeney's expense just after the extremely corrupt FL Republican had lost his 2008 election, says angrily to Rove: "You guys wouldn't be in the White House without Tom."
Given the coverage we've offered over the years on Feeney, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis' allegations against him, several folks --- including our friends Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel and Patty Sharaf, filmmaker of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story --- sent us the link to the Politico article, asking our opinion on what Roe may have meant by that crack.
In the interest of keeping links to that story from continuing to pile up in our Inbox, here's our take on Roe's purported comment to Rove...
A federal appeals court has dealt a blow to the investigation of a former congressman in a ruling that could also limit probes of other lawmakers, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The order, which has not been made public, came during the grand jury investigation of former representative Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and his potential ties to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the sources said. The appellate judges who issued the ruling did not say when they would release an opinion explaining their decision, which reversed a lower court order favorable to prosecutors seeking documents and grand jury testimony, the sources said.
Even without knowing the details of the ruling, sources and legal experts said it is important because it is the second time in two years that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has sided with Congress in its fight with the Justice Department over what protections lawmakers are granted under the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause. The clause is designed to shield lawmakers' official work from executive branch interference and has been increasingly cited by members of Congress under federal investigation.
The corrupt Feeney, as regular readers of The BRAD BLOG likely know, is currently under federal investigation due to his association with jailed Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In 2003 Feeney went on a junket with Abramoff to play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland. He would later claim he had no idea that the trip was illegally paid for by lobbyists.
For more details on the appellate court ruling --- or rather, hints, given what little is available on it for the moment --- please see WaPo's coverage today to hunt for clues.
One other very interesting point we hadn't noticed previously...
That's the second such award for an election integrity documentary (both featuring yours truly, so clearly, we'd expect no less!) recently, as the San Diego Film Festival's "Best Doc" award went to David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections in late September.
MSVL has received some great press of late, even as I haven't had time to cover it. Most recently, Epoch Times called it "a great entertaining thriller," and said it was "alarming" and "outrageous." And Meet the Bloggers reviewed the film as "truly one of the scariest movies I've seen in a very long time" and called it "gripping." (Other recent reviews here and here.)
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It's been a very rough season around here, and we'd greatly appreciate the support if you're able. For those who have contributed over the last week or so, and are waiting for your DVDs, they're coming soon! I've gotten a bit backed up over here of late for some reason or another. Thanks for your patience...and for your support! It means the world...