Late this week, Politico's Anne Schroeder ran details of a purported public showdown, in a D.C. steakhouse, between Karl Rove and Jason Roe, the former Chief of Staff to FL's former Republican U.S. House Rep (and alleged vote-rigging conspirator) Tom Feeney.
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...
Feeney Shenanigans On the Record
In truth, the most interesting aspect of the smackdown between Rove and Roe was, if accurate as reported, that it's yet another example of the Republican Party in rapid disintegration and continuing to eat each other alive. Other recent examples include the Republican veteran who recently smacked Rush Limbaugh down on air, Laura Ingraham's attempted smackdown of Megan McCain after she'd dared to criticize Ann Coulter, and even the salacious internecine battle between the Palins and the Johnsons. All a sign of a political party in utter disarray.
But as to the "You guys wouldn't be in the White House without Tom" line, we don't have any hard evidence of anything newly nefarious in that, given what is already on the public record concerning Feeney's helping hand to Bush during the FL 2000 democracy abortion.
Amidst the 36 day battle following Election Day 2000 in the Sunshine State, Feeney, who was then Speaker of the FL House and arguably the second most powerful politician in the state (after Dubya's brother Jeb, who was Governor at the time), made it clear that he was prepared to pass legislation in the Republican Florida House to grant all of Florida's electors to George W. Bush no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court ended up deciding. As the state's Constitution grants the power to determine Presidential Electors to the legislature, and that power has been passed on by them to the voting electorate, Feeney was prepared to take that power back for his buddy Dubya (Feeney had previously run as Jeb's running mate in his unsuccessful 1994 bid for the Governorship), and select Bush's electors by government fiat, no matter what the courts had determined.
Sleazy? Of course. We'd expect no less from Feeney. But nefariously illegal? Not really. But that, we suspect, is what Roe was most likely referring to in his comments to Rove.
Feeney had other roles to play, of course, in the theft of Florida's 2000 election, according to the whistleblower Curtis who spoke of "exclusion lists" and the use of armed police at polling places in minority areas which, he says, "Feeney used to brag about". Of course, we now know that thousands, perhaps as many as 20,000 legal FL voters were inappropriately removed from the voting rolls vis a vis Jeb's "Felons List" which succeeded in inappropriately excluding all sorts of voters merely because their names sounded like someone who may have been a felon at some point, in some state.
But as to the implications inherent in the questions from various folks sent to us this week, suggesting that, perhaps Roe's comment was alluding to a larger, even more insidious theft of the election, perhaps by computer manipulation of election results, that's probably not likely --- at least according to the information offered to date by Curtis and what we know about how FL ran their elections in 2000.
If Roe was referring to 2004, and he could have been, that's another story. But on the presumption he was referring to Feeney's role in helping Bush "win" in 2000...
Feeney's Touch-Screen Vote-Rigging Software
In his now fairly well known allegations against Feeney, first broken here in December of 2004, Curtis had alleged that Feeney first asked the CEO of the company where they both worked (Yang Enterprises Inc. --- Curtis as computer programmer, Feeney as general counsel and registered lobbyist, even as he was also speaker of the FL House) for what amounted to a touch-screen vote-rigging software prototype, in "late September or October of 2000", according to his sworn affidavit [PDF]. That would have been just a month or two before the 2000 FL election, and the short demonstration program that Curtis says he created for him, wouldn't likely have been in time to use for that November's election. Furthermore, though a version of the program could easily have been adapted for use on central tabulating computers (the main vote counters), the progam was allegedly meant for use on touch-screen voting systems, which FL hadn't yet been using at the time.
After the 2000 race however --- where paper ballots were allegedly gamed in Palm Beach County, according to the stunning on-camera testimony of 7 former company employees from Sequoia Voting Systems who'd produced the bulk of the state's punch-card paper ballots (broadcast video here) --- Florida moved quickly thereafter to touch-screen voting systems across much of the state.
As luck would have it, Sequoia had "successfully" deployed touch-screen voting for the first time, county wide, across Riverside County, CA that year, and they stood to make huge profits from the widespread adoption of such systems, versus the comparable very low profit margins from the continuing sale of punch-card ballots, and inexpensive mechanical punch-card readers.
When Curtis' story initially broke, one of the points used by critics in their attempted debunking of Curtis' claims was that, since FL hadn't used touch-screens at the time, his allegations made no sense. But, after the testimony from the 7 Sequoia employee/whistleblowers were aired on HDTV's Dan Rather Reports in 2007 (subsequently picked up by absolutely nobody in the corporate mainstream media, by the way, despite the myriad of stunning, corroborated claims in that broadcast), that purported "hole" in Curtis' story was also substantially sealed up.
Other Still-Unexplained 2000 Anomalies
Other still-unexplained anomalies from FL's 2000 election were the -16,022 votes (that's negative 16,022 votes) registered for Al Gore in Volusia County by the optical-scan tabulator made by Global (which was purchased by Diebold shortly thereafter). The reasons for that "glitch" have never been reasonably explained, to this day, by anyone. It was that negative 16k vote count which led to Gore's initial concession to Bush on Election Night, and the discovery of the problem --- and subsequent restoration of 16k votes --- which then led to Gore's now famous unconcession an hour or so later.
That initial concession, however, would prove to be a linchpin in Bush's eventual "win", as it was following Gore's concession that the bulk of the media would call the election for Bush, a point that was later used by Republicans to argue to the U.S. Supreme Court that their client, George W. Bush, would be "irreparably harmed" if Florida were allowed to actually count their ballots and Gore was discovered to be the winner, since the media had already declared Bush the winner.
Of course, as we now know, even with all of the scheming and gaming and voter suppression, Al Gore still received more votes across the state of Florida that year than did Bush, as seen in the exhaustive post-election study of all ballots in the state, as completed by a consortium of news outlets and universities (here's that actual study [PDF], as posted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute for you misinformed skeptics out there.)
If Roe meant something more than all of the above in his purported comments to Rove, we've got no additional light to shed. Of course, Feeney has never been questioned by investigators, to our knowledge, about Curtis' allegations, even though Curtis made his allegations via sworn affidavit, during sworn video-taped testimony to a U.S. House Judiciary panel, and via a polygraph test which he successfully passed.
While Curtis has maintained that he has no knowledge of his software prototype ever having been used in an election, and only that he was asked by Feeney to create it, the once powerful, former Republican Congressman, on the other hand, has long refused many years of requests that he take a similar polygraph test to backup his claims that he never asked Curtis to create any such thing.
So that's what we know. Perhaps we're too conservative in our offering Roe the benefit of the doubt on his comments, but we're often accused of being too conservative in such matters. Ironic, that, since even though we try to report nothing here at The BRAD BLOG which can't be independently verified, we're also frequently accused --- by nefarious opportunists and lazy writers on both the Right and the Left --- of being "conspiracy theorists" around here. Of course, that may just come with the territory when investigating, and writing about, criminal conspiracies.
- A Quick Summary of the story so far.
- An Index of all the Key Articles & Evidence in the series so far.
- In late 2008 a documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story was released. More info on the remarkable film here
- Exclusive DVD versions of the film, as signed by Brad Friedman and filmmaker Patty Sharaf, are available here as BRAD BLOG premiums.