On the upside though, even if they successfully violate the Constitution by keeping some 600,000 legally registered, disproportionately minority voters from voting this year, they can save some money on signage...
Maddow warns: 'With this many top of ticket races tied, turnout will be everything...Now we watch for the ways that people will try to stop voters from turning out or from having their votes counted, by hook or by crook'...
Rady Ananda at OpEdNews opens her review of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story by declaring it "the most explosive documentary produced in recent memory, involving murder, espionage, cover-up, electoral cyber fraud and a United States Member of Congress with ties to the Bush Administration."
More details, pull-quotes from other reviews, and video preview here.
Haven't seen it yet? If you've got LinkTV, you can still check it out there. Otherwise, DVDs are available for prchase at the MSVL website, or better still, for a few dollars more, you can get one signed by both myself and the filmmaker Patty Sharaf with a $50 donation right here!
What more could you ask for? Collectors versions of great documentaries for you to watch and share, and all the while supporting the work we do here, so we can keep on doing it! And maybe by the time we're done, democracy gets saved somewhere in the bargain and everyone's a winner!
(Snail-mail works for all of the above as well. Send to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028)
Congrats to David Earnhardt and company on winning "Best Documentary" at last weekend's San Diego Film Festival, for Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections! I'm quite sure the win was due to my appearance at the Q&A following the Saturday night screening down there.
And finally...if you'd like a copy of both great documentaries (I'm in both, but they're really good anyway!), a donation of $75 or more will get 'em both shipped straight to ya! (Snail mail also works for all of the above: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028)
Congrats and thanks all around! People are getting the message because you are making noise!
Kansas City Star is among the first out of the box to review the film, calling it a "Must See!" and declaring that it "plays like a high-tension political thriller."
The terrifying feature-length documentary, shot in high-definition video, details, for the first time, the complete Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises vote-rigging scandal, in all of its, yes, sometimes very gory detail. It also tells a tale of the media, as it details my attempts to tell the story over the last four years, to a corrupt, detached, and too-often frightened corporate media. The BRAD BLOG broke the Curtis story originally in late 2004, and we've been investigating and reporting on it ever since.
The DVD of MSVL is finally available for purchase at VotingLies.com and will also be premiering beginning this weekend on LinkTV, for those of you lucky enough to get the satellite TV channel. See LinkTV's main Murder, Spies page for air dates and times, as well as an extended five-minute preview of the film. Sharaf has been kind enough to offer the DVD --- signed by herself and myself --- available as our newest, and perhaps most appropriate, BRAD BLOG premium ever! An online donation of $50 or more gets you your own copy! (And just in time for Halloween!) Snail mail works as well, if you prefer to send a check to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The support is greatly appreciated and very much needed.
LinkTV narrates their own 60-second preview of MSVL below...
For those who aren't familiar with the remarkable Curtis/Feeney story of the Florida software programmer who says he was asked by a powerful Republican to create vote-rigging software, where have you been? See this summary version for the quick details.
For those who are familiar with the story, you will learn details in MSVL you never knew, along with new interviews on the case from Gore Vidal, reporter Bob Fitrakis, computer security expert Harri Hursti, whistleblower Steve Heller, Curtis co-worker Mavis Georgalis, and many more!
While the Curtis story has been told, often beautifully, in a number of other documentaries, such as Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections and Stealing America: Vote-by-Vote, this is the first to go all the way into all of the frightening details underscoring this case, including the mysterious death of Florida's Inspector General Raymond Lemme while investigating the allegations, and the bizarre case of the convicted Chinese spy, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, who worked at the firm with Curtis.
A few quotes from some of the early reviews:
"Must see!...Plays like a high-tension political thriller...Amazingly elaborate and detailed...Want to get hoppin' mad? This'll do it...Let's hear it for paper ballots." - Bob Butler, Kansas City Star
The film is also screening at a number of upcoming film-festivals around the country, including the New Jersey Film Festival this weekend. See the MSVL website for dates & times.
Four years later, I'm happy to still be here to see the release of the film, quite frankly. There were some pretty scary days back there. It's regrettable that nobody's yet gone to jail, but maybe we're getting closer. For many of you who found this blog because of the Curtis story back in 2004, thank you for all of the support throughout the years! I hope you'll get the film, enjoy it, and continue to spread the word.
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) --- cited for the third year in a row by a public interest watchdog as one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" --- has finally decided to "apologize" for going on that $75,000 lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland in 2003, along with the disgraced, and convicted, Jack Abramoff. The "apology" comes in the form of a desperate, 30-second campaign ad (at left.)
Feeney is the last remaining member of Congress to have gone on one of those Abramoff-funded private jet trips to hit the links in St. Andrews. The other two, Tom Delay (R-TX), who went in 2001, and Bob Ney (R-OH), who went in 2002, have both left Congress in disgrace and under indictment.
You'll note that the ad --- in which Feeney never bothers to mention that he's a Republican --- ends, laughably, with: "Because public service is about being honest, even when you make a mistake."
That line might more appropriately, at least for Feeney, have been: "Public service is about admitting that you broke the law, five years after you took a huge favor from a corrupt lobbyist and were finally forced to admit it outloud in a desperate, last-ditch attempt, to save your Congressional meal ticket."
But he might have had trouble getting all of that into his :30 spot.
The ad also says, on screen: "Get the facts: Tom Feeney.com" Might we suggest if you really want the facts on Tom Feeney, one of the filthiest players remaining in Congress, that you see instead our special coverage page about him, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis. Curtis worked at the same company as Feeney, back when Feeney was both the powerful Speaker of the Florida House and a lobbyist for the software firm with millions of dollars in state contracts. The same company also employed undocumented Chinese aliens working on systems for NASA and others, even as Feeney has continued to protect that company to this day (he was also their one-time general counsel) and has housed his campaign headquarters in their building.
A remarkable documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies, covering that story, and The BRAD BLOG's attempts to tell it over the last four years, has just been released. If you'd rather learn the facts in movie form, please check out that film! NOTE: It's terrifying and includes untold details on at least two grizzly deaths related to the Curtis/Feeney scandal.
Curtis himself eventually switched to the Democratic Party following the incident and, after Congress refused to take action on Feeney, he ran unsuccessfully against him in 2006. His attempts to do so again this year were derailed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which backed wealthy opponent Suzanne Kosmas in the primary. With polls showing the well-funded Kosmas in a tight race with Feeney, clearly, one of the dirtiest Republicans in America is now running very scared.
In or near Los Angeles tonight (Tuesday)? Please come on by the Fairfax Cinemas (7907 Beverly Blvd.) at 7:30pm for a special screening of Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections. I'll be speaking at a Q&A afterwards, along with filmmaker David Earnhardt, "Diebold Document Whistleblower" Steve Heller (who is both featured in the film and now also an occassional BRAD BLOG guest blogger!), Mimi "Dharma & Greg" Kennedy of PDA, and all of it hosted by the good Jerry Quickley of KPFK/Pacifica.
Oh, and psst...say the super-secret password "NO DIEBOLD!" at the box office tonight, and get $3 off your ticket! But don't tell anyone! We'd like to keep that as much of a secret as Diebold's own passwords for all of their voting systems ("1111").
If you can't make it tonight (for some crazy reason), and if you've yet to see Uncounted (for some crazy reason), and you haven't helped support The BRAD BLOG lately (for some crazy reason), special editions of the DVD, as signed by the filmmaker, are still available for online donations of $50 or more. Snail mail works as well, to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
We'd love the support, and you'll love the film. And we'd all love to see you tonight if you happen to be in the hood.
P.S. The film is also screening at the San Diego Film Festival this Thursday and Saturday at 5pm. I'll be heading down for a Q&A following the Saturday showing there, so I expect to see everybody in person by the end of this week! Thank you.
Velvet Revolution - co-founded by Brad Friedman - today launched its newest campaign at StandingForVoters.org, calling on candidates across the country to pledge to challenge elections when necessary.
"This election, let's make democracy the winner!" the Standing For Voters site proclaims. Readers of The BRAD BLOG know that's quite a stretch, that we're a long way from having a true democracy in this country. Yet challenges by candidates --- before, during and after the elections --- could be an important step in the right direction. In many situations, only candidates have standing to challenge elections.
StandingForVoters.org is primarily directed towards candidates themselves and serves to educate them about election integrity issues, types of election challenges, and recent history of candidates who challenged elections. Voters are encouraged to participate by finding candidates who will pledge; tips about how to do this are provided on the site, including:
Attend candidates' nights or other campaign activities. During the Q&A portion of the program, make a statement about the importance of election integrity and ask the candidates publicly if they will sign the Standing for Voters pledge.
Call in to radio shows where candidates are being interviewed. Ask the candidates on the air to sign the pledge.
Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece in the local newspaper urging candidates to pledge. (You can also encourage the paper only to endorse candidates who have made the pledge.)
Visit candidates' websites and send them emails asking them to sign the pledge. Include a link to StandingForVoters.org.
Talk to your local political clubs. Find out who has direct contact with candidates and enlist their help.
Once one candidate for a particular office has signed on, call their opponents and ask them to match that pledge.
The first two candidates to sign the site's more robust pledge, "The Super Pledge," are no strangers to election integrity issues. Ellen Brodsky, candidate for Supervisor of Elections in notorious Broward County, Florida is a long-time election integrity advocate, founding Broward Election Reform Coalition. Brodsky was thrilled to pledge, saying, "You can count on me to speak about fair, accurate and transparent elections in every breath I take."...
If folks in Florida's 24th Congressional district don't dump this sleaze bucket (presuming he's not tossed in jail first for his involvement with Jack Abramoff, for which he's under FBI investigation), I can't even imagine what they'd be thinking,
Here's most of the 30-second robocall, as posted by the Sentinel, in which a Feeney volunteer endorses Curtis on behalf of Feeney's filthy campaign...
Just when you think he's hit rock-bottom, it turns out there is no dirty trick too unseemly for Feeney. Can there be any more question about Curtis' claims about him? What wouldn't Feeney do to try and gain an advantage in an election? Gaming the system again. As ever. (As he also did when Curtis ran against him in '06). What an appalling little --- very little --- figure of a man.
Curtis called Kosmas a "conservative blue-dog Democrat." He said "She could change her name to Republican and never have to change a vote."
Kosmas, in return, might ask, "Curtis who?"
She said she doesn't know Curtis.
"I am running as a Democrat," Kosmas said.
"Running as a Democrat." A telling phrase, that.
While Kosmas claims to be against the war, it turns out she co-sponsored a resolution, adopted on March 21, 2003, while in the Florida legislature that pledged "support of President Bush in his stand against Saddam Hussein".
Unfortunately, Kosmas isn't the only hand-picked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) candidate being put up this year almost solely on the basis of the DCCC's short-sighted conjecture that they can win in a previously "red" district because the candidate either has lots of their own money, or is damned-near a Republican.
Yesterday, our buddy Howie Klein - who knows more about on-the-ground politics and the real positions of Congressional candidates than anyone we know --- decimated the DCCC for their drive to put "Democrats" in office, at any cost. The "Stalinist" effort, as he describes it, to put such candidates as Kosmas in office (whether or not they end up voting with Republicans more often than Democrats!) has been the basis of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program launched under the previous DCCC chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel and still in play under its new chair, Chris Van Hollen....
[UPDATED: Florida Democratic Party responds to this report. See bottom of article for details.]
A Democratic candidate running in a contested primary for the U.S. House seat representing Florida's 24th Congressional District has filed an official complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), alleging that his opponent has been making illegal and deceptive campaign calls from within the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) offices, on party phone lines.
In a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG blasting his opponent, Clint Curtis described the tactics being used by the Suzanne Kosmas campaign as "the worst example of Rovian dirty tricks."
Curtis, a Florida computer programmer turned well-known vote-rigging/anti-corruption whistleblower (see BRAD BLOG's years-long coverage of Curtis here) has filed a complaint charging that paid campaign staffers for his opponent in the August 26th Democratic Primary, former state Rep. Kosmas, "have been contacting Democratic primary election voters and fraudulently identifying themselves as calling on behalf of the Florida Democratic Party," according to the campaign's press release.
"The callers then go on to solicit votes for Kosmas in the Aug. 26 Democratic primary," the Curtis camp alleges.
The press release is posted in full at the end of this article, with a link to download the complete FEC complaint. Also at the end of the article is the full text of an email sent to Curtis and campaign manager Jerry Halberg, from a Curtis campaign staffer who also serves as a local Florida precinct captain. The precinct captain claims to have received one of the deceptive phone calls.
The email notes that the Caller ID recorded showed the call as having come from "KOSMAS FOR CONG" with the phone number 407-365-7808. A call made by The BRAD BLOG to that number this afternoon, was answered by someone identifying the number as belonging to "The Campaign for Florida of the Florida Democratic Party."
The Curtis campaign press release, issued yesterday, details the main points of Curtis' complaint to the FEC:
* Kosmas and her committee knowingly misled the democratic primary election voters as to the origination of her telephonic communications and utilized state Democratic Party offices and telephone equipment for her federal campaign.
* The Kosmas campaign claimed the state offices, which are leased by the Florida State Democratic Party, as her campaign offices in public communications with Democratic voters.
* She knowingly led the voters to believe that the communication asking for support in the primary was from the Florida Democratic Party when in fact it was from paid staffers.
"The unlawful calls continued even after the Kosmas campaign was notified of the problem," the release continues, with Curtis adding, "Her campaign was given the opportunity to rectify the violations prior to the submission of FEC charges but apparently chose not to."
The Curtis campaign says photos taken of the Democratic Party offices in Oviedo reveal how the evidence of FDP support for Kosmas was "scrubbed" after they complained. Photos said to have been taken on July 31, before Curtis complained to both the FDP and the Kosmas camp, show campaign signs for Kosmas plastered throughout the local Democratic Party facility. After the initial complaints on Aug 3rd, as the following photos purport to show, the signs were removed...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Earlier this month, writer, director, producer, and actor John Wellington Ennis released a free online election documentary titled Free For All. The trailer (4:21, at right) for the smart, informative, and hugely entertaining flick is below (with none other than Brad Friedman serving as the video thumbnail) while the entire movie can be downloaded here.
While it's perhaps a bit of a busman's vacation, I made the mistake of quickly checking out the podcast of yesterday's hour from my motel room after I got off the road last night, and though I've heard (and even told [PDF]) Heller's remarkable and heroic story a million times, I couldn't stop listening to the interview. Heller --- who, in addition to putting his life on the line for fair elections, is also now a colleague of mine, helping to head up our Velvet Revolution Election Strike Force --- is a helluva gifted and articulate spokesman on the issues of Election Integrity.
Feel free to listen up. You'll not regret the time well-spent. Download the MP3, or listen online below (about 40 mins, w/ commercials removed courtesy of PBC affiliate Green960)...
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...
Committee weighs risks, benefits of electronic voting machines Fla. 'vote-flipping' programmer voices doubts about tool
Clint Curtis touched a hidden button on the screen of a simulated electronic voting machine as onlookers witnessed votes switch from one candidate to another.
The House Committee on Elections invited Curtis, a computer programmer from Florida, to testify Wednesday on the accuracy, risks, benefits and security of electronic voting technology. The committee also heard from other expert witnesses, election officials and the Texas secretary of state.
Curtis said a Florida representative approached him in 2000 to design "vote-flipping" software to help the congressman win an election. Requesting a fraudulent program for a machine is not illegal in Florida, but using one is.
"You cannot trust electronic machines, no matter how many honest people you have. It only takes one person with access to the machine," said Curtis, an advocate for hand-counted paper ballots. "Programmers can be bought."
The committee watched as Curtis clicked on an invisible button that suddenly placed the losing candidate of his mock election safely in the lead.
"24 lines of code can flip an election," Curtis said.
He offered to write a new code from scratch in less than three minutes, emphasizing the ease of creating a "flipping" code.
On Wednesday, coverage of his testimony by the Dayton-Beach News-Journal (who endorsed Curtis during his 2006 run against Tom Feeney, the Republican U.S. House Rep who Curtis alleges asked him to create vote-rigging software) included this:
"They seem to understand," Curtis said in a telephone interview afterwards. "They seem to get it. I think they'll do what Florida did, get rid of (electronic touch screens) and get something voters can count on."
For those who don't know Curtis, where have you been? You can read his remarkable story, first broken by The BRAD BLOG back in late 2004, summarized here. He is now hoping to run against Feeney again in Florida again this year, though he must first win his Primary against a Democratic Party-backed candidate. If you'd like to help him beat the millionaire chosen by the short-sighted Dem insiders, please stop by (and feel free to donate!!!) at www.ClintCurtis.com.
DISCLOSURE: We were invited, by the Republican who heads the committee, to testify at the hearing this week as well. Due to prior travel plans, unfortunately, we were unable to be there, but happy that Curtis, and several others who we recommended, were able to show up and speak truth to power.
So, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds is again proven right. For more than a year Sibel has been predicting that Dennis Hastert will join a lobbying firm involved with Turkey, and now we learn that Hastert is joining Dickstein Shapiro.
In the "Representative Engagements" section of Dickstein's website, we learn that they represented "the government of Turkey in connection with the development and financing by private sponsors of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and TransCaspian gas pipeline spanning from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean."
Dennis Hastert, who is listed in Sibel's "Rogues Gallery," was referred to in FBI wiretaps as apparently accepting bribes from Turkish criminal elements associated with the Turkish government, as documented in Vanity Fair in 2005 and elsewhere.
The short clip at left is from Kill The Messenger, a documentary about Sibel's case, where they discuss some of Hastert's involvement as mentioned in Vanity Fair.
In researching the Vanity Fair article, as mentioned in the clip, journalist David Rose interviewed various congressional staffers and counter-intelligence officials who are familiar with the case. He reported that there were three separate types of bribes allegedly paid to Hastert:
"(T)ens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks."
"(T)ens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information."
"(A)t least $500,000"
Hastert was lucky that there was literally zero follow-up in the mainstream media to these most serious charges. Hastert did not sue Vanity Fair for libel; instead, Hastert got his spokesman to send Vanity Fair a bizarre Letter to the Editor in response, 6 months later. The BRAD BLOG has the letter here, along with Sibel's effective debunking of Hastert's response.
The only action taken in response to the startling revelations in Vanity Fair was by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) which filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) asking them to investigate the "(T)ens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks"...
I don't mind admitting it. For an Election Integrity journalist, HBO's Recount is pure pornography. Anticipation for Sunday's Memorial Day premiere showing was at the top of last weekend's holiday agenda. And the excitement grew still more late Friday when the good folks of PDA Florida made my week (my month? my year? my last four eight years?) by sending me an actual Palm Beach County "CES Votomatic III" voting booth, one which they tell me was among the 24 used in HBO's film itself.
Since I have a very difficult time paying the bills around here --- contrary to popular opinion, election integrity blogging isn't the windfall it might otherwise appear --- perhaps I'll consider the kind gift a reward for my too-many years on this beat. Though perhaps my consolation prize would be a better way to look at it.
When I first opened it, actual chads (HBO's film advises the plural of "chad" is actually "chad") from the 2000 election spilled out of the machine all over the office floor. The gods of democracy and the goddess of the Butterfly Ballot were taunting me. I rather enjoyed it. I learned long ago that I'd have little choice.
So it was with great anticipation that I sat down on Sunday night to watch the film as it premiered, along with the "Diebold Document Whistleblower" (and my new colleague at VelvetRevolution.us) Steven Heller and his wife, and Robert Carillo Cohen, one of the filmmakers of HBO's landmark documentary, the Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy which enjoyed a re-airing earlier in the day, as the cable net set the stage for its newest democracy thriller/heart-breaker, Recount.
None of us, including Heller, who anticipated hating the fictionalized re-telling of America's crushing democratic abortion of 2000, would be disappointed...