BRAD BLOG Responds With Evidence to the Unfortunate Article in The St. Petersburg Times by the Pulitzer Prize Winning Lucy Morgan
An Object Lesson in the Failures of Today's American Mainstream Media
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2005, 2:04pm PT  

For months supporters and critics alike have been requesting that Clint Curtis take a polygraph test to help shore up (or debunk) the veracity of his explosive sworn allegations that then-Florida State Senator (and Speaker of the House) Tom Feeney, now a U.S. Congressman from Florida's 24th District, asked Curtis to create an electronic vote-rigging software prototype back in 2000 when Curtis worked at Yang Enterprises Inc. (YEI) where Feeney was also the corporate counsel and registered lobbyist in his "non-conflicting" day job while working as Florida's Speaker of the House.

Curtis has now taken --- and passed --- the much requested lie-detector test as discussed here Saturday and as broken in a one-sided, unbalanced and unfortunate story by Lucy Morgan, the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative Tallahassee Bureau Chief for The St. Petersburg Times.

While Morgan was handed this rather hot and exclusive scoop over a month ago, just after Curtis took and passed the test on March 3rd, her investigative work since then on this admittedly complicated and very broad case --- stretching back through at least four years of public and private paper trails --- resulted in an astonishingly amateurish piece which serves as a fine piece of pro-Feeney propoganda, a smackdown of the courageous and so-far verified claims of Clint Curtis and --- finally, though less importantly --- a slap in the face to the hard work we've toiled at here for over five months.

Her article, inappropriately and condescendingly headlined "Blogs spin tale of computers, conspiracies" is loaded with countless points of misleading information, crucial omissions and out and out inaccuracies.

Given our (apparently overly generous) offer to fact-check and/or advise and/or supply Morgan with any and all of the copious documentation and public records and hard evidence we've amassed over our past six months of reporting on this matter coupled with Morgan's impressive credentials and experience, we were somewhat stunned to read the fruits of her efforts on Saturday when the story finally appeared in The SP Times.

As we are still somewhat at a disadvantage by being on the road for the moment (still in Nashville at the National Election Reform Conference), we'll have to do our best to speak to Morgan's many unfortunate errors and lack of apparent journalistic standards without access to our complete file of evidence. Nonetheless, we'll do our best to point out what we would have pointed out to Morgan had she bothered to run any of this by us before going to press.

Given also that she found it necessary to include us in the story for inexplicable reasons --- other than perhaps to try and discredit the entire affair as a "conspiracy theory" of some sort --- it seems as though it would have been appropriate to check many of these facts with us and/or at least give us the opportunity to comment on several of the unsupported charges she makes in her piece.

But alas, that seems to be the way of the Mainstream Media these days; Belittle and discredit the stories that they should have been reporting in the first place by suggesting that a story presented on a web log couldn't possibly hold the veracity of something reported by the MSM.

On that note, we'll simply mention that after over six months of investigating and reporting on the Clint Curtis story, we've not once had to issue a notable retraction or correction to any of our work. Whereas one single article from Morgan includes enough misinformation for an entire column's worth of retractions, corrections and clarifications.

We had hoped to extend the courtesy to Morgan that she didn't feel necessary to extend to either Curtis or us in order to give her the opportunity to explain herself and her many omissions, misleads and apparent lack of both "balance" and fact-checking in her story.

Morgan's response to our invitation to comment today: "I have no interest in commenting on your story, you can publish that I have two heads if you want."

We have no interest in publishing that Morgan has two heads, since that would be misleading and untruthful as far as we can tell. We do have an interest in publishing facts however, in a fair way, while correcting those who seem to display a problem in doing so themselves.

So to that end, let's take a look at a few of the most egregious distortions, errors, misleads and omissions in Morgan's unfortunate article...

After the "Blogs spin tale of computers, conspiracies" headline, Morgan follows quickly with the first of UNSUPPORTED and INACCURATE MISDIRECTS:

Now some Internet Web sites that traffic in conspiracy theories have fashioned something of a political thriller out of a series of apparently unrelated events they say prove the elections really were stolen.

Morgan refers to "some Internet Web sites that traffic in conspiracy theories", but mentions only The BRAD BLOG in her text, so we'll guess she's referring to us with a dismissive, broad and unsupported brush.

Never mind the condescending suggestion that we "traffic in conspiracy theories", despite our exhaustively hard-fought reputation for reporting only verifiable and confirmable information. Credibility, we realize, is everything in this game.

Never mind also that we've never said that anything "proves the elections really were stolen" on this blog.

The most disturbing part of that second paragraph in her article is that --- in one fell swoop --she manages to discount and/or discredit the many non-blog, newsprint publications (such as The New Times Broward-Palm Beach, The Seminole Chronicle, The Moscow Times and even her own St. Petersburg Times(!) along with many others) who have covered this story since we first broke its first chapter here on December 6th, 2004.

Onto the next MISLEADING OMISSION...Wherein Morgan discusses the vote-flipping software which Curtis claims he was asked to create:

He said he gave the program to one of his bosses, Li Yang, but did not keep a copy.

The implication apparently being that Curtis is making a claim that he cannot support since, after all, he failed to keep a copy of the software he swears he had written for the company.

What Morgan leaves out is Curtis' oft-given explanation for not having kept such a copy. Namely, that YEI was a secure facility! As anyone who has ever worked in such an industry realizes, leaving the building with software created on-site is strictly forbidden! As Curtis seems to have a long demonstrated penchant for following the rules, he has explained on many occassions that he would never have attempted to illicitly remove software from the building.

One would think that's an important point to mention when casually implying that Curtis should have kept a copy of the vote-rigging prototype he says that he wrote on company time.

And then Morgan continues her apparent theme of sniffing it all away as a "conspiracy theory" which should be disregarded, by allowing Feeney one direct quote after another allowing him to discredit Curtis at will. She does so even while failing to providing a single direct quote by Curtis himself or giving him a chance to reply, refute or comment upon Feeney's obnoxiously dismissive comments.

Here's one such obnoxiously dismissive Feeney comment which Curtis was not allowed reply to:

"All I can tell you is I didn't do any of the illegal things Curtis says I did," Feeney said, "and I didn't lead the purple Martian invasion of Earth either."

Mission accomplished.

Morgan has allowed Feeney, a proven (and well-documented) liar, to inappropriately ridicule an American Citizen and whistleblower who has risked his life and that of his family for over 4 years in an apparent pursuit of nothing more than justice. Only to his allegations --- not a single one of which has been disproven, while most have indeed since been proven as accurate --- belittled by a powerful sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives as little more than the insane conspiratorial ravings of a lunatic. All done with the "credible" imprimatur of a major American newspaper.

How many lies and inaccuracies is Morgan actually able to show Curtis has made during his four years of whistleblowing? And how many lies and inaccuracies has her "investigation" shown Feeney, Yang and their attorneys to be responsible for?

Compare them, and let us know if the number of Feeney and Yang prevarications don't bury the number of Curtis' (which are so far zero!) under a mountain.

She's also managed to discredit --- without evidence, just with slur --- an apparently very patriotic American citizen in the bargain.

Would it have made any difference if she had either known or reported that Curtis had until only recently been a life-long Republican? Especially given her implications that it is only Democrats who have been supporting Curtis' allegations?

(PERSONAL NOTE TO MS. MORGAN: Had you bother to ask us, we would have told you that we are not Democrats either...but facts can be annoyingly disruptive to apparently pre-conceived perceptions.)

Of course, she continues quoting Feeney (only):

"...he doesn't accuse me of tampering with an election until the election controversy in Ohio arose," referring to unproven allegations of voting irregularities in 2004 that some Democrats say cost John Kerry the election.

Aha! Now perhaps we're getting an idea of Morgan's preconceptions a bit!

If Morgan has done so little investigation into the facts that she is able to simply slough off thousands of proven allegations of "voting irregularities in 2004" by dismissing them as "unproven", then it's little wonder she'd be unable to decipher the more complicated and proven facts in the Curtis case.

For the record, we'd point Morgan to these 102 pages of evidence proving election irregularities in 2004 (and those are only some from Ohio alone!) as prepared by the minority staff of the U.S. House Judiciary committee.

We'd also be delighted if she would bother to review the much shorter, but equally compelling, description of proven "voting irregularities" as compiled in an article by Bush supporter Christopher Hitchens.

We hope and pray she'll be able to find a few proven allegations in any of those documents.

Now back to more important OMISSIONS in her story:

Yang had a contract with the state DOT [Department of Transportion] that was the subject of an internal investigation regarding overbilling.

They certainly did. And, as she must know by now, the contract referred to above with the Florida Dept. of Transportation was terminated by FDOT as a result of the investigation launched after allegations first made by Clint Curtis!

It would have been thoughtful to mention that point in Morgan's article.

And then Morgan returns to the MISDIRECTS...or something...concerning Raymond Lemme, the investigator from the Florida Inspector General's office who died in what Valdosta, GA police described as a suicide. It was a case that received a great deal of attention on this website due to the myriad inconsistencies found in the official police report and the photographs taken at the scene which were said not to have existed in that same police report, but which are posted online here nonetheless:

Lemme left a note saying he loved his wife and family and apologized for his actions saying: "I am depressed and in pain." DOT officials told police Lemme had completed his investigation of the Yang overbilling case and had no other cases concerning Yang or election scams when he died.

Presuming that the unnamed DOT officials told police, as Morgan claims, that the investigation was completed when Lemme died --- in July 2003 --- did she bother to wonder why that "completed" report was not published until for another full year and a half? Not until February of 2005?

The reasons for such a long delay in the report for a supposedly "completed" investigation certainly would have piqued our attention. It may even have made wonder if FDOT was reallyl giving us the whole truth and nothing but the truth for their explanation and dismissal of any concerns over the timing of Raymond Lemme's death. Particularly since Clint Curtis claims that Lemme had, only weeks before, told him that he'd tracked the corruption "all the way to the top"? Even more particularly since the final FDOT report confirmed almost all of the allegations that Curtis is shown to have originally made to Lemme back in 2001!

Now for some even more SERIOUS MISLEADS:

Curtis said he would not have filed complaints about Yang if the company had not harassed him.

At least that's a new piece of information. And it certainly may be one way to look at what Curtis has said on this matter.

However, had she bothered to check her facts for accuracy and actually quoted Curtis in reply to this matter, he might have told her what he told us yesterday when we asked him about the inference made above.

After YEI learned of his employment at FDOT, Curtis was threatened by Yang's Attorneys --- at "Fowler, Barice, FEENEY & O'Quinn" --- with a lawsuit which suggested he was under some form of a non-compete clause that disallowed him from working at FDOT even though he had long since resigned on good terms from YEI. The threat letter didn't charge him with wrong doing. It simply threatened him.

As well, Curtis claims to have been offered a $1 Million package by YEI and Feeney to work "anywhere but Tallahassee" (that information is also in Lemme's original report if one bothers to read it) when the company "seemed to have panicked for some unexplained reason," as Curtis described it to us, when YEI learned that he was then working at FDOT.

Curtis explained, "I might have never filed any complaint, because I probably wouldn't have even bothered to look to see if there was any wrongdoing until they alerted me with their threats and bribes. They alerted me that there was a problem. Had they not, I would have never noticed anything was wrong!"

That description from Curtis would seem to be paint an entirely different picture than the one Morgan seems to use to imply that Curtis was being vindictive, or something, against YEI.

Heavy MISLEADING and OMISSION is next up:

Curtis also accused the Yangs of allowing an illegal alien, Henry Nee, to work on the DOT contract in violation of state law. DOT investigators concluded Nee was legally in the country.

Actually, DOT investigators concluded, after it was confirmed for them by Federal Officials, that, in fact, Nee was illegally in the country as of January 1, 2000. Again, it's in the FDOT's report. All one has to do is read it.

What DOT investigators did conclude, however, was that since the Weekly Time Reports on YEI stationery, signed by Nee and submitted to FDOT (several of which we published here back in December) were all dated prior to January 1, 2000, when Nee still had legal status in the country, that they didn't have the grounds to terminate their contract with YEI on that basis alone.

Of course, there has been ample evidence, such as email from at least four different YEI employees --- including Nee himself! - which demonstrates that Nee worked at YEI during the period when Curtis was also employed at YEI, and as well, at the time Curtis made his complaints to FDOT in 2001 about Nee's employement at Yang.

This "Internet Web site that traffic[s] in conspiracy theories" posted several of those emails from multiple sources about five months ago.

As well, the FDOT report confirms the same. Yet despite all of that, their CEO Mrs. Yang, still denies that Hai Lin "Henry" Nee ever worked for YEI as either employee or consultant! She reportedly did so again as recently as three weeks ago in a sworn deposition taken in the FDOT's case against Mavis Georgalis in which the Yangs are reported to be the prosecution's only witness.

The irresponsible OMISSIONS continue:

In 1999 U.S. Customs officers in Boston and Orlando caught Nee shipping computer chips for missiles to China without a federal permit. In November, Nee admitted making false statements to federal authorities and was fined $100 and put on unsupervised probation.

Just "making false statements" and fined $100 for it. Never mind the FACTS that Nee, who worked for YEI where Tom Feeney was the chief Corporate Counsel, is documented in his official plea agreement with the Feds, as we reported in December exclusively --- with documentation --- that Nee admitted "it was a slow year" so they only shipped such anti-tank missile chips to the People's Republic of China "ten to twenty times" in the past year!

After a four year sting by the Homeland Security department, that would seem to be a fairly serious crime. More so than the "admitted making false statements to federal authorities and was fined $100" would seem to imply.

And then Morgan simply gets a fact WRONG:

Curtis says he complained about Nee to several law enforcement agencies in 2003 and early 2004. But by then federal authorities were well on their way to arresting Nee in relation to a 1999 incident.

Actually, Curtis complained about Nee to the Florida Inspector General's office in May of 2001. Long before there was any public information about a secret sting operation to arrest Nee and long before Federal officials admitted that Nee was an illegal alien. And, of course, long before Nee was actually arrested in March of 2004.

Morgan's implication there is just terribly misleading. We're quite sure Mr. Feeney is quite happy about that.

Morgan then returns to the MISLEADS and OMISSIONS with this:

Feeney says his friendship with the Yangs goes back about 20 years when he filed incorporation papers for Yang Enterprises Inc. Feeney also appointed Mrs. Yang, a software expert, to a state technology task force when he was speaker of the Florida House.

While we're curious what sort of software Mrs. Yang is actually an expert in, we're also disappointed that Morgan has notably not bothered to point out Feeney's repeated statements that he's not been involved with the Yang's since he went to the U.S. House in 2002. Those inaccurate claims of his were made even while his 2004 Campaign Headquarters remained in the YEI Building itself, and even while the Yangs threw him a private reception in May of 2003 at the Atayal Foundation. Both such facts were made available through articles and photographs linked on the not-quite-so-conspiratorial-after-all BRAD BLOG.

A repeated OMISSION now:

Yang Enterprises is the largest business in Oviedo with nearly 300 employees, Feeney says. Yang continues to get contracts from the state and NASA.

We're not sure what state contracts YEI may still be getting, but we do know that, according to FDOT officials, their contract with FDOT has been terminated as a result of information gathered in the investigation of Clint Curtis' charges against the company. It should have been mentioned at least once, instead of having been overlooked and not mentioned twice.

Here's a whopping OMISSION and a MISLEAD:

Richard Martinez, the campaign manager for Feeney's 2002 opponent, filed a formal complaint with the Florida Ethics Commission alleging that Feeney intervened with state officials for Yang. It was dismissed after investigators found no evidence Feeney attempted to influence DOT or that he violated a law prohibiting lawmakers from representing private clients before state agencies.

Seemingly clearing Feeney's name by use of the old "Florida Ethics Commission" defense which Feeney has tried in almost every interview that the media has been able to get with him, Morgan fails to touch on two key points that might make that old chestnut of a defense a bit less exculpatory.

That "Florida Ethics Commission", as we pointed out in this December article, was comprised of 8 members, 6 of whom were friends, colleagues or appointees of either Feeney himself or his previous gubernatorial running mate Jeb Bush with whom he worked closely at the time (Jeb was Governor, Feeney was Speaker of the Florida House).

As well, in apparent violation of state law, as reported in that same article, The Daytona Beach News-Journal pointed out in an investigative of theirs in 2002 that the commission failed to review email which demonstrated that Feeney had lied to the commission about direct influence he used to benefit YEI with other state officials.

The commission also failed to interview key witnesses in the case. Also, against state law.

Final big ERROR alert, with an important OMISSION tossed in for measure:

The DOT contends Yang overbilled the state about $97,000 on payments approved by Georgalis.

Actually, the DOT not only contended but even demanded that Yang repay them nearly $300,000 in inappropriate charges. That from a total of some $800,000 in both "questioned" and "qualified" charges.

The final report from FDOT on Curtis' claims which Lemme began in 2001, and which Morgan contends was finished in June of 2003 when Lemme died, and which was finally released in February of 2005 was labelled as "inconclusive". That was based in no small part on the fact that the auditors hired by FDOT to examine YEI's books were not allowed --- by YEI attorneys --- to work on site at the YEI Building and to examine their original books as per standard auditing procedures.

As explained to us by Robert Clift, Lemme's supervisor and the Director of Investigations in the Inspector General's office, Yang "stonewalled" their audit and investigation:

"The reason the report is 'inconclusive' is because the charge was that Yang intentionally misbilled and they maintained that they didn't keep an integrated billing report system and they maintained that according to their contract they weren't required to, and lo and behold...they were right on that count. They didn't need to. So there wasn't anything we could do."

Clift continued, "The Right to Audit clause in their contract lets us get into the books...If someone wants to stonewall us though, then our ability to ferret out the facts is limited...The tools we have in an administrative context is limited."

And so, the "inconclusive" report is the final record for the moment, with some $300,000 that FDOT has required paid back by YEI, and the total of $800,000 in of both "questioned" and "qualified" charges is a far cry from the rather minimized $97,000 figure which Morgan tosses out.

Finally, there were a number of items of note that Morgan simply failed to mention.

As we've said, it's a broad story, going back many years, but given her exclusive polygraph scoop, one might have thought she'd made a bit more use of it rather than minimize it as she did.

For example, was there any reaction from Feeney whatsoever as to Curtis having passed a polygraph exam?

Morgan offered no response from Feeney on the matter, nor did she apparently ask him any questions about it, such as "Would you be willing to take a polygraph exam yourself, Mr. Feeney?"

Neither does she bother to ask Feeney why his attorneys have threated The Seminole Chronicle, a small local weekly newspaper, with a lawsuit for simply reporting on Curtis' affidavit and sworn testimony before members of Congress as we first reported on December 24th, and then again on December 29th when Yang's attorneys followed with a virtually identically letter threatening the same newspaper.

If Feeney felt that this newspaper had defamed him by reporting what Curtis had to say, one would think that a similar legal threat or, more appropriately, an actual legal suit against Curtis filed by Feeney would be a no-brainer. And yet, Feeney has never threatened or filed such a suit against Curtis...the man actually making these explosive charges!

We find that curious, though apparently Morgan did not. Disappointing, to say the least, given that Morgan seems to have direct and on-the-record access to Feeney to discuss such matters in a way in which few previous journalists covering the story have enjoyed.

And so it goes...

No Pulitzers for BRAD BLOG yet. But for a site which Morgan and The SP Times dismiss as traffickers of conspiracy theories, it's fascinating that we've yet had to give a single substantive retraction, correction or clarification on any part of the enormous body of work we've published on this case since December 6th 2004.

While Morgan, in a single article, seems to have irresponsibly published one paragraph after another demanding clarification, correction or retraction. We hope that she will consider doing exactly that very soon.

...CONTACTS...(Please be clear, but always polite!)
Send">\">Send an Email to Lucy Morgan, Paul Tash (President/Editor of SP Times) and the Corrections Desk.
Send a Letter to the Editor.

For more info on The BRAD BLOG's continuing investigative series on
The Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Vote-Rigging Scandal series, please see:
- A Quick Summary of the story so far. -
- An Index of all the Key Articles & Evidence in the series so far.
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