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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 21, 2014
'Green News Report' 11/20/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record-breaking storm breaks Buffalo; October 2014 hottest October on record; Sorry, Repubs: China to cap coal use by 2020; PLUS: Obama doubles down on climate foreign policy...
Previous GNRs: 11/18/14 - 11/13/14 - Archives...
Extreme Weather? What Extreme Weather?
Yes, scientists have been warning us about this for years. And, yes, the record breaking storm in Buffalo is tied to global warming...
We're #26! Harvard 'Electoral Integrity' Report Dings U.S.
'World's Greatest Democracy' rated worst among Western nations; Ranked just below Micronesia, just above Mexico in overall list...
Gag Order Won't Ensure Impartial Jury in Trial of 'Dark Lord of Coal Country'
WV's criminally indicted coal boss and U.S. Chamber of Comm. director Don Blankeship presents challenge for federal prosecutors...
Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape'
That small point likely underscores some very encouraging news for the health of the world...
'Green News Report' 11/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
US Senate fails to approve Keystone XL; Can Congress override the Prez next year?; Native Americans: KXL is 'an act of war'; PLUS: Accountability for 'The Dark Lord of Coal'...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/14 - 11/11/14 - Archives...
Sanders on Colbert: Midterms a Vote Against Both Parties
For those mad at us for asserting 'not voting IS a vote', look who just said the same thing...
Exclusive: St. Louis County Was Warned Before Election Paper Ballots Would Run Out
Email obtained by BRAD BLOG reveals County's top election official ignored warnings from election experts, leading to shortages...
Not Voting IS a Vote
Stop blaming those who didn't turn out. Americans did vote. By not turning out, they voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole. It may have been a dumb vote, but it was a landslide...
Stephen Colbert is Really REALLY Funny
That's not a news flash, but, as this segment makes clear once again, it's very very sad that The Colbert Report is soon going away...
'Green News Report' 11/13/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Historic US-China climate agreement: The deal Repubs said couldn't be done; New hope for int'l climate treaty; Repubs freak out; Scientists say deal not enough, but a very good start...
Previous GNRs: 11/11/14 - 11/6/14 - Archives...
Crucial Moment for the FCC and 'Net Neutrality'
Will the Democratic majority commissioners support the President's clarion call and thwart GOP opposition to an open Internet?...
Brad on Thom Hartmann TV: More Election 2014 Mess
On thousands of 'missing' votes in Wisconsin, on Nate Silver and polls vs. 'results', on Rightwing 'True the Vote' voter fraud fraudsters, and on much more...
'Green News Report' 11/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
'Science has spoken': Final UN report - bad, good & room for hope; PLUS: Margaret Thatcher's historic climate change speech - when conservatives accepted science ...
Previous GNRs: 11/6/14 - 10/30/14 - Archives...
IN MEMORIAM:
Tomas Young, 1979-2014
On Veterans Day, we're sad to report that America has lost another casualty of the War on Iraq -- one who, after first meeting and interviewing him in 2005, we will never forget...
Early Data Suggests TX GOP Photo ID Restrictions 'Worked'
Provisional ballots doubled and turnout was down by more than a quarter-million voters, despite larger population, contested governor's race and increased voter registration...
WI Scanner Fails To Tally Thousands of Votes in 'Citizens United' Referendum
'Programming error' blamed for popular paper ballot computer tabulator recording just 16 of 5,350 votes cast in city of Stoughton, WI...
The Results Were Skewed Toward Republicans: A Response to Nate Silver
The statistics guru unhelpfully explains away mid-term's surprising outcome by presuming pre-election polling was wrong and unverified election results were all correct...
'True the Vote' Group Fails to Find 'Voter Fraud' (Again)
Laughingstock RW org's 'army' of monitors and smart phone app uncover just 18 benign 'irregularities', 0 cases of polling place impersonation...
'Green News Report' 11/6/14
Election 2014-pocalypse: Republican hegemonic hellscape!; Climate deniers now in charge; PLUS: At least one note of very good environmental election news...
About Last Night: KPFK 'BradCast'
Guest Matthew Segal of OurTime.org joins Brad to discuss whether young voters are to blame for Tuesday's election results and, if not them, then who...or what...
Day After...
Important re-re-re-reminder about when it is that probs in elections usually come to light, and a few more Election Day prob reports out of VA, NC, MI, IN & CT...
Reuters: Voting Probs Around Nation, 2,000 Missing Election Judges in Chicago
Wire service summarizes machine probs, Photo ID vote suppression and a really strange story out of Chicago...
Paper Ballots Ran Out in Ferguson, MO
Long lines at e-voting systems as St. Louis County offers both touch-screens and paper ballots. County said printing more ballots throughout day, night...
Electronic Voter ID System Fails in FL
Failure results in emergency court filing by state Democrats as Gubernatorial race between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott is deadlocked in Sunshine State...
AR Voters Illegally Asked for Photo ID
Arkansas Times reports some poll workers attempting to enforce GOP Photo ID restriction found by state Supreme Court to violate constitutional 'right to vote'...
Round-up of Reported Election Failures (So Far) in CT, NC, GA, TX, AL
'Serious problems' reported at the polls in a number of states. Here is a quick summary of just a few of them...
Touch-Screen Votes Flip in VA [VIDEO]
RWers finally become 'believers' in those 'liberal conspiracy theories' about votes flipping on 100% unverifiable voting systems...now that it affects them...
AL Bars Use of Public Housing IDs for Voting
Last minute change of rules may further disenfranchise (certain) voters in state where bloody civil rights march gave rise to the Voting Rights Act in 1965...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Asks About Mentions of 'Elections or Candidates Provided by White House Officials'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2007 4:46pm PT  

This just in from Henry Waxman's House Oversight Committee office...

Following media reports that at least 20 political briefings were given to officials of at least 15 federal agencies, Chairman Waxman writes to government agencies requesting further information and documents about any briefings mentioning elections or candidates provided to agency employees by officials in the White House. For a list of all agencies, please visit http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1272.

A sample of one of Waxman's letters is posted in full at the end of this article.

TPMMuckraker has WH spokesperson Dana Perino's amusing response to questions on the issue, including video. To the point, her most impressive talking point laden response: "There’s nothing wrong with political appointees providing other political appointees with an informational briefing about the political landscape in which they are working."

Waxman's letter follows in full...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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New Revelation Appears to Counter Corrupt Congressman's Denial That He Was Aware of the Lobbyist's Funding of Overseas Junket...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2007 12:48pm PT  

Rep. Tom Feeney's (R-FL) office followed the specific instructions of Jack Abramoff's office in reporting the precise cost of his golf junket to Scotland with the disgraced lobbyist as $5,643, instead of the $20,000 the trip actually cost, according to an email obtained by the St. Petersberg Times.

The brief email is posted at the bottom of this article.

Feeney, the corrupt, once-powerful GOP congressman and very close friend of the Bush Family, has denied for years that he knew the lobbyist had paid for the trip, but the email from Abramoff's assistant seems to suggest otherwise, according to the Times Anita Kumar:

The e-mail from Holly Bowers, Abramoff's then-assistant, instructs recipients to say a conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, paid for the trip at a cost of $5,643 per person.

In reality, the extravagant trip that began with a trans-Atlantic flight on a private jet and featured twice-daily golf at world-famous locales cost about $160,000, or $20,000 per person for each of the eight attendees.

Feeney, 48, an Orlando-area Republican who has been contacted by the FBI as part of the Abramoff investigation, reported precisely the details supplied by Abramoff's office in his congressional travel report on the Scotland trip.

The email fails to list thousands of dollars in greens fees incurred by the Scotland contingent's twice-a-day rounds of golf at the legendary Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, one of the world's oldest and most exclusive courses. Feeney now claims he paid those greens fees himself...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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UPI/Washington Times Headline Blames Abramoff for Misreported Cost of Feeney's Trip...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2007 8:11pm PT  

Given this morning's Fox "News"/AP switcheroo, here's a bit of headline bait-and-switch that's at least as nifty from UPI and Washington Times tonight (both owned by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church):

The same headline/article is currently on UPI's website as well.

What next, Mark Foley as a "Democrat"? Oh, wait, never mind...Been there, done that.

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Says Panel Must Review 'Hard Evidence' Gathered Showing '12-24% More Votes Than Stated in Official Results'
Vote-Rigging Whistleblower Turned Candidate Says All Four Challenged Races in Florida Must be Investigated by House, Not Just FL-13's Jennings/Buchanan Race...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2007 6:59pm PT  

[UPDATED WITH VIDEO]

And speaking of Tom Feeney and Clint Curtis, the man who made a number of alarming accusations about him; including (but not limited to) a vote-rigging conspiracy in 2000, protection of an undocumented alien who pled guilty to espionage charges related to sending restricted missile chips to Communist China, and much more...

Curtis released a statement last week in regard to the contest he's filed in the U.S. House last December under the Federal Contested Elections Act following his House race against Feeney in Florida's 24th district last November. (The statement is posted at end of this article.)

In an exclusive BRAD BLOG interview from early March, Curtis spoke about "hard evidence" gathered by his campaign showing that his votes were under-recorded --- and/or Feeney's over-recorded --- on the paperless touch-screen voting systems used in the race. Their evidence has been gathered via a precinct-by-precinct, door-to-door canvass being carried out by the campaign volunteers.

"We have now found absolutely…more votes for Democrats than the official results show," Curtis told us earlier this year. "Absolutely more votes. No trends, no guesses. More votes. That should never happen."

The campaign's news release claims that "In every precinct studied, the data shows that Curtis received 12-24% more votes than stated in the official result."

The House recently announced the formation of a panel to investigate the contested election between Christine Jennings and Vern Buchanan in Florida's 13th district, but has failed to take similar action on the other three contested Sunshine State elections which "remain in limbo," according to Curtis's campaign. Another House race from Louisiana has also been contested in Congress. All of the contests were filed last year under the federal act meant to carry out Congress's Constitutionally specified mandate as the final arbiter of the seating of its members.

"Only an official independent investigation, backed by the authority of the U.S. House, can dispel lingering questions regarding the accuracy of the 2006 election results," in Florida's 24th district and the other contested races, the campaign says. They are calling for the immediate formation of a panel in Congress to "determine the accuracy of the electronic voting systems in question, and ensure legitimate representation for the voters in those districts."

Drawing a contrast with the FL-13 contest, which Curtis's campaign aptly notes is based on largely circumstantial evidence --- though a mountain of it --- at this time, his group of volunteers in South Florida claim to have "gathered hard evidence" in the form of sworn affidavits from voters, which show "exactly where the election results are inaccurate."

"The evidence that the election integrity group has gathered can be independently reproduced and can determine whether or not the voting machines recorded accurately," the campaign contends.

UPDATE 4/26/07: Here's a video, courtesy of Ginny Ross of the Election Defense Alliance, featuring an interview with Curtis detailing his campaign's efforts "Walking for Democracy" efforts to canvass the district:


The complete press release from the Clint Curtis campaign is posted in full below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Former Chief of Staff Jason Roe 'Abruptly Resigns' From Romney Campaign as Abramoff Said to be 'Talking so Much He Doesn't Have Time to Eat'
Heat Continues to Build as Everyone Starts Singing in the FBI Investigation of Corrupt Florida Congressman...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2007 12:36pm PT  

Signs indicate things are getting worse, and quickly, for one of Congress' most corrupt members, Rep. Tom Feeney, a once-powerful Florida Republican whose extensive career of documented lies, political favors, and routine partisan smear-mongering The BRAD BLOG has covered in great detail over the last two and a half years.

Yesterday, Feeney was fingered as "Representative #3" in recent court filings related to the guilty plea of Republican Congressional Aide Mark Zachares, who admitted receiving some $40,000 in cash and gifts from Jack Abramoff. A day earlier, it was revealed that the FBI had recently interviewed Feeney and requested documents related to his 2003 golf junket to St. Andrews, Scotland with Zachares and the disgraced GOP lobbyist.

Today, court documents reveal that the cost of the 2003 trip was closer to $20,000 per person instead of the $5,643 Feeney claimed when he "paid back" that amount in January of this year, after the House Ethics Committee found him to be in violation of House Rules prohibiting lobbyist-paid travel.

Further news reports indicate much more trouble may be ahead for the beleaguered Congressman, as Abramoff is said to be chattering away to federal investigators --- "so much he doesn't have time to eat," according to one news report --- in hopes of reducing a prison sentence he's currently facing in relation to conspiracy fraud charges to which he's already plead guilty in Florida.

But if that weren't indication enough that Feeney may be in big trouble, it's also now being reported this morning that his former Chief of Staff, Jason Roe --- who, along with his wife, Patricia, has also been the target of corruption allegations --- abruptly resigned from his new position as Deputy Campaign Manager for Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Amusingly, the reason he cited for the resignation was "familial obligations."

Those "familial obligations" might include the fact that Patricia reportedly received some $50,000 from the Feeney campaign for fundraising duties, before becoming Chief of Staff for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) --- whose wife's office was raided last week by Federal investigators leading to his resignation this week from all Congressional Committees.

Further, in what TMP's Josh Marshall aptly described last night as "a classic scandal harmonic convergence," the case against Renzi, which included federal wiretaps prior to last year's November election, also has direct implications in the the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal.

And all of the "familial" wives are involved as well.

Following all of this? You may need to take notes. We'll try to make it easy for you...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Noose May Finally be Tightening for the Corrupt Florida Congressman
BRAD BLOG HELPS FBI: Lists a Few More Feeney Matters They May Wish to Inquire About...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2007 1:11pm PT  

Orlando Sentinel has some fresh details and Politico has some observations on the papers filed yesterday by the FBI concerning the guilty plea by Mark Zachares in the Abramoff affair, as we discussed yesterday in our item covering the FBI interview of the corrupt Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL).

In addition to what looks like trouble in the case for at least two other GOP Congressmen, it looks like Feeney is being fingered as "Representative #3" in yesterday's filing...

1) Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who went to St. Andrews in Scotland with Abramoff in August 2003, finally made the case as "Representative #3." This is not good news for Feeney, and the FBI is reportedly looking into his dealings with Abramoff, according to the St. Petesburg Times. At the direction of the House ethics committee, Feeney has already agreed to pay a fine of $5,643 for improperly reporting the trip.

That can't be seen as good news for Feeney who, we'll remind readers, is a very close friend of the Bush family, having run (unsuccessfully) as Jeb's Lieutenant Governor during his first run in Florida in '98, serving as point man in the FL House during the 2000 Election Debacle (when he promised to give the state's Electors to GWB no matter what the Supreme Court ended up deciding), and much, much more.

We'll also remind readers that the imprisoned Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) was once designated as "Representative #1" before being indicted in the Abramoff affair himself....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Congressional Aide On 2003 Scotland Golf Junket with Both Men, Pleads Guilty, Is Cooperating With Feds
Corrupt Congressman Has Reportedly Spent $23k on Legal Fees So Far This Year...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2007 6:29pm PT  

Holy cow. When it rains it pours. Someone get us an umbrella. Quick.

Two related stories collide to suggest some possibly very bad news for our friend, the notoriously corrupt Tom Feeney (R-FL).

First this just in today from the St. Petersberg Times...:

FBI asks Tom Feeney about trip with Abramoff

Feeney's office said the congressman is cooperating voluntarily.

WASHINGTON - The FBI has asked U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney for information about his dealings with Jack Abramoff as part of its ongoing investigation into the lobbyist convicted of defrauding clients.

FBI agent Kevin Luebke refused to say whether Feeney, a Republican from the Orlando area, is under federal investigation.

Federal agents also have asked the St. Petersburg Times for an email sent to the newspaper by Feeney's office describing a golfing trip the congressman took with Abramoff to Scotland in 2003.
...
"Rep. Feeney considers this an embarrassing episode in his 17-year career as an elected official and an expensive lesson for him as a public servant," according to [a statement released by Feeney's office].
...
The FBI contacted the Times last week to ask for the February 2006 email that Feeney's then chief of staff Jason Roe wrote to the newspaper in response to a series of questions about interactions between Feeney and Abramoff. The Times has referred the FBI's request to its attorney.
...
Feeney, 48, who spent a decade in the Florida Legislature where he was speaker of the House, has paid $23,000 in legal fees this year - more than any other expense - according to his latest campaign finance reports.

"Rep. Feeney anticipates voluntarily cooperating with the Justice Department in any further investigation of this trip and looks forward to promptly resolving this matter," according to Feeney's statement.
...
"Any assertion that this office knew Abramoff paid for the Scotland trip is a g--d----- lie," Roe wrote in the email being sought by the FBI. The email was quoted in a newspaper article last year.
...
"Tom has never written a letter for Abramoff. Abramoff has never been in our office. Abramoff has never asked anything of us," Roe wrote in the email. "There is no accusation of a quid pro quo. No quid pro quo exists."

More details in the full story on what we've been reporting for years --- in what seemed like a vaccuum until now --- on Feeney's golf junkets with Abramoff to St. Andrews, Scotland. (See this May 2006 story for example: "Feeney/St. Andrews/Abramoff and Ney/HAVA/Abramoff Connections Still Flying Beneath the Radar")

There were three Congressmen who went on those trips. The first two, Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Bob Ney (R-OH), have both been forced out of Congress in the bargain and are respectively under indictment or in jail. Only Feeney, so far, has escaped both notice and legal accountability.

That may be about to change, however, with today's news that Mark Zachares, an aide to Rep. Don Young (R-AK), will plead guilty tomorrow to accepting some $30,000 worth of goods from Abramoff, with a promise of a job down the line in an interesting scheme that could also reveal something about what Feeney might have been discussing in some fashion with Abramoff.

As AP is reporting tonight:

From June 2002 through November 2004, Zachares worked for the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, providing Abramoff contact information for prospective businesses that would be affected by the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the court papers stated.

The two men worked out a "two-year plan" in which Abramoff would build a homeland security lobbying practice that Zachares ultimately would join.

Feeney has insisted that there was never a deal for anything between him and Abramoff, unlike with DeLay and Ney. However, the notion of long term plans, such as the deal Abramoff was working on with Zachares, has never been discussed in relation to Feeney.

And as luck would have it, Zachares was on that trip with Feeney and Abramoff in 2003 and is cooperating with the feds --- all of which could spell out very bad news indeed for Feeney.

We've been covering the corrupt Congressman in great detail for years in relation to allegations by Florida computer programmer Clint Curtis that Feeney asked him to create a vote-rigging software prototype when they worked together at a software firm in 2000, while Feeney was serving as a registered lobbyist for the company even while he was Speaker of the Florida House. We originally broke that story in December 2004. A summary version is here.

Let's hope Curtis saved those "Clint Curtis for Congress" signs. He may need them again sooner than he might have thought.

As you can imagine, we'll be watching this one closely. And likely with no small amount of elan...

UPDATE 4/24/07: Feeney fingered as "Representative #3" in FBI filings. Details...

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.
- Curtis eventually ended up running for U.S. Congress against Feeney in 2006.
For more info, see: www.ClintCurtis.com
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By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2007 2:23pm PT  


Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA)
1938 - 2007

The announcement of the sudden passing of the Congresswoman from California's 37th district today comes as both a surprise and a tragic loss. She was the first African-American woman to chair the important U.S. House Administration Committee, having taken the chair for the first time this past January in the 110th Congress. It had previously been held by Vern Ehlers (R-MI) who had taken over from Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) after he stepped down in the wake of his Abramoff-related corruption charges.

We covered the announcement of her cancer diagnosis and subsequent request for a temporary leave of absence last week from her post as chair of the committee which is currently overseeing the scheduled mark-up of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform bill (HR811). Our coverage last week described who might take over the committee in her absence.

Both The Hill and AP have additional details on Millender-McDonald's passing.

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'Don't tell me WE are fighting in this air-conditioned office! WE are not fighting this war! Our TROOPS are fighting this war!' Shouts Engraged Congressman...
By Alan Breslauer on 4/19/2007 5:11pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer


Note from Brad: Holy cow...

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Takes Leave of Absence from Committee Overseeing Holt Election Reform Bill...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2007 1:16pm PT  

Prior to the Easter Congressional recess, there was a great deal of speculation as to why the scheduled mark-up for the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR811) had been delayed until after recess in the U.S. House Administration Committee.

Among reasons for the delay, The BRAD BLOG had heard from various Hill staffers that chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA) had come down with the flu. Another staffer said the issue was due to a failure by Microsoft to present promised information on problems with the software disclosure portions of the bill. Some Election Integrity activists had attributed the postponement to their phone and fax campaign warning lawmakers about perceived dangers in the bill.

While we've been unable to confirm that any of those reasons specifically caused delay of mark-up for the controversial bill, The Hill is reporting today that Millender-McDonald has been diagnosed with cancer and will now be taking a leave of absence through late May...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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NY Times Finds Original Bi-Partisan Draft Report, Buried by the EAC, Concluded Fears of 'Voter Fraud' Were Overblown
Altered, Politicized Report Follows Familiar White House Pattern, Brings Additional New Concerns About Continuing Status of EAC...
By Arlen Parsa on 4/11/2007 1:12pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

The New York Times reports today that a governmental report on the so-called dangers of "voter fraud" was manipulated to reflect the Bush Administration's claims rather than their own panel's findings.

The Times obtained two copies of the report on voter fraud, the first of which [PDF] concluded that fears of voter fraud were overblown and exaggerated. The second --- and official version of the report --- however steps back and promotes ambiguity about the danger (or lack of danger) that voter fraud poses to American democracy.

The Times reports:

A federal panel responsible for conducting election research played down the findings of experts who concluded last year that there was little voter fraud around the nation, according to a review of the original report obtained by The New York Times.

Instead, the panel, the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.

The revised version echoes complaints made by Republican politicians, who have long suggested that voter fraud is widespread and justifies the voter identification laws that have been passed in at least two dozen states.

Democrats say the threat is overstated and have opposed voter identification laws, which they say disenfranchise the poor, members of minority groups and the elderly, who are less likely to have photo IDs and are more likely to be Democrats.

Though the original report said that among experts “there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud,” the final version of the report released to the public concluded in its executive summary that “there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.”

The bi-partisan report had been buried for months by the supposedly bi-partisan U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC), which has come under fire of late for partisanship and a failure to oversee the electronic voting systems and voting machine vendors they are supposed to be overseeing and testing for compliance with federal standards.

The two bi-partisan authors of the original report were bound, by contract, as reported by the Times, to keep quiet about their opinions on the final report. However, following the release of the EAC's edited final version, one of the two authors, Tova Andrea Wang, a Democracy Fellow at the The Century Foundation, telegraphed some of her opinions about it in a guest blog we ran at The BRAD BLOG titled "Where's the Voter Fraud?" Her editorial made clear that the Republican claims of a "voter fraud" epidemic in America were simply unfounded and being used as a political weapon to suppress Democratic voter turnout via the use of Draconian Photo ID restrictions at the polls.

The EAC's approach in releasing their altered final version of the report --- spreading doubt when there is really a consensus among experts --- is a technique that the White House has used in several instances when expert agreement is not politically convenient. Perhaps the most famous case of this was when the Administration trumped up scientific doubt about climate change and used it to mis-portray findings of government scientists.

According to the originally submitted draft report [PDF], marked "NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION," voter fraud at polling places, which Republicans have frequently cited as part of a massive, insidious attempt to undermine democracy, is not nearly as frequent as is claimed.

As The BRAD BLOG has previously reported, debate about the report, and its initial origins, was highly politicized by members of a White House-connected GOP front-group organization whose founder, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, a St. Louis resident and White House operative, is closely associated with the EAC's Paul Degregorio, a fellow St. Louisan, who was chair of the federal body when the report was first commissioned.

An email obtained by the Times detailed the complaints of the lead Republican author of the report, Arkansas election attorney Job Serebrov, in response to pressure to alter the conclusions of the report's findings...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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PFAW Website 'Democracy Campaign FAQ' Mischaracterizes my View on 'Paper Trails' and Dishonestly Represents a Host of Related Issues
AN OPEN LETTER DEMANDING RETRACTION AND CORRECTION ON THE FACTS ABOUT MY POSITION, ELECTION REFORM AND DANGEROUS DRE VOTING SYSTEMS...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2007 5:55pm PT  

I'm sorry to have to keep banging this drum. I truly am. But it must be done, as People for the American Way (PFAW) continues to not only mislead the public about the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR811) and dangerous, disenfranchising DRE touch-screen voting technology, but they are now apparently also misleading about my position on the issue, by name.

I sent the following via email to PFAW's lead Election Policy attorney, David Becker, today along with CC's to Executive Director Ralph Neas, and a number of other Election Integrity organizations.

I would urge you to read the letter below, and contact PFAW with your own concerns and demand that they immediately stop misleading members of Congress and the public alike about the most important issue of our day.

PFAW's support of the Holt bill is currently the lynchpin, for Congress and a number of powerful organizations, concerning whether or not it will be passed as is, or whether much-needed amendments --- most notably, one that immediately bans the use of dangerous, disenfranchising, unverifiable DRE voting systems, with or without a so-called useless "paper trail" --- will move forward in Congress.

You can contact PFAW right here:
Email: pfaw@pfaw.org
Telephone: 202-467-4999 or 800-326-7329

Please don't wait for someone else to do it!

From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 5:20 PM
To: 'David Becker'; 'Ralph Neas'
Cc: [REDACTED FOR PRIVACY]
Subject: IMMEDIATE CORRECTION REQUESTED: Misleading, Incorrect PFAW FAQ

David (and/or whoever is managing the "Democracy Campaign" FAQ page at the PFAW site) -

Thanks to Art Levine's American Prospect article today, I noticed for the first time, your misleading FAQ concering the Holt bill.

There are a number of out and out inaccuracies on that FAQ, as well as several wholly misleading points and --- the only thing which perhaps I have a say in --- a complete mischaracterization of my personal position concerning Election Reform in the very first Q&A on the page.

I am requesting an immediate retraction of that incorrect position statement, along with a statement noting your correction to it. The other items, obviously, I have little say about. But I will note the most troubling here in hopes that your conscience will lead you towards correcting the incorrect and/or misleading information you are currently making available to your members and the American public...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Even While the Republican Governor of Florida (of all people and places) Restores Felon Voting Rights, Calls for a Ban on Touch-Screen DRE Voting, and Otherwise Succeeds in Shaming the Democrats...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2007 9:35am PT  

Florida's new Republican Gov. Charlie Crist continues to get far in front of Congressional Democrats concerning issues of Election Reform. Previously, he has called for the Sunshine State to replace all DRE touch-screen voting systems with paper-based optical scan systems (and touch-screen ballot marking devices for the disabled) and today, he succeeded in restoring voting rights for former felons to all but the most violent criminals after they've served their time.

While Democrats in Congress, and their public-advocacy group supporters such as People for the American Way (PFAW), MoveOn, Common Cause, and VoteTrustUSA, continue to dally around the edges of reform vis-a-vis Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR811) in the House and a forthcoming companion bill from Dianne Feinstein in the Senate, shamefully, it's the Republican Florida Governor --- of all people --- who is proving to be the true Progressive in the fight for real reform.

There's plenty of blame to go around, of course. The GOP Legislature in Florida is hanging on to their own share of shame in fighting Crist's bi-partisan proposals to replace disenfranchising, democracy-stealing DREs. In Maryland, it's the Democrats in the Senate who are killing Election Reform after House Dems had approved it (as tepid as that reform would be in only requiring useless, panacea "paper trails" for the state's paperless Diebold touch-screen systems. LATE UPDATE 3/6/07 5:07pm PT: Stunning turnaround suddenly in MD's Senate, support for a paper ballot bill! Breaking details here...)

New Democratic Secretaries of State Debra Bowen in CA and Jennifer Brunner in OH are meeting their voter mandates and doing their respective best to correct dysfunctional, unverifiable, easily gameable voting systems, but they are also facing challenges from both Republicans and local Elections Officials alike who are fighting to put their own self-interests over those of the voters. As usual.

In the meantime, the currently-flawed federal bills in the U.S. House and Senate are on the verge of getting worse, not better, through the drafting, mark-up, and amendment process, as legislators bend to the demands of henhouse-guarding Elections Officials along with the uncritical support for "Election Reform, any Election Reform, whether it'll bring true Reform or not" by powerful groups such as MoveOn, VoteTrustUSA, Common Cause, and others.

By way of example, MoveOn sent out an email to members yesterday calling for unflinching support of the Holt bill, despite knowing it to be flawed and VoteTrustUSA yesterday sent out an "All-811-All The-Time" newsletter yesterday to members without a single article, from among the mountains available, critical of the bill. That, despite recent testimony to Congress by their own policy director, Warren Stewart, asserting that "the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy." Both the Holt and Feinstein bills currently drafted would allow for exactly such systems, and in fact, institutionalize the practice for years to come.

Both MoveOn and VoteTrustUSA declined to respond to our queries seeking explanation about their mailings yesterday.

So what's going on here?

Legislation that would have been smashing in 2005, but has since been shown to be desperately out of date in 2007 given the mountains of new evidence which revealed itself during the 2006 Election Cycle and beyond, is mired under the weight of bureaucratic deal-making and go-along-to-get-along public advocacy. All of which is by-and-large enabling the Democrats who seem to be fiddling as democracy burns.

It's all made worse, for the moment, by the largest and most influential of the public-advocacy groups, PFAW, who continues to dominate the debate on many levels. The group, which The BRAD BLOG has come to learn wields great power and proxy throughout a large swath of the civil rights community, is not only currently against a much-needed ban of DRE voting systems, but --- far more disturbingly --- is actually advocating in favor of their use.

We reported recently on that point, but the evidence is perhaps more clear in PFAW's own published analysis [PDF] (pages 2 & 3) of the Holt bill [emphasis ours]:

DRE technology offers better access options to voters with disabilities and voters who have minority language needs.
...
Whereas optical scan technology requires the printing of thousands, if not millions, of ballots in multiple languages, the distribution of those ballots in adequate numbers for each precinct, and the training of poll workers to distribute those ballots to those voters who seem to need them, DRE technology is much more effective for minority language voters.
...
Similarly, DREs afford voters with disabilities an opportunity to cast an independent secret ballot— something that optical scan paper ballots cannot fully do. It is important that jurisdictions with large numbers of minority language voters and voters with disabilities have the flexibility to use DRE equipment.

PFAW's position, as expressed above, is wholly unsupported by scientific evidence, common sense, or anything else as we have learned while investigating the matter over the past several weeks and months.

When a Republican governor from Florida has gotten ahead of Democrats on this issue, it's safe to say that something has gone terribly wrong.

If someone within the Democratic caucus doesn't stand up soon and bring the type of leadership to this issue that Crist has brought to Florida, they risk becoming the owners of a dysfunctional electoral system previously designed-for-disaster, via the Help America Vote Act of 2002, by the now-disgraced, Republican felon, former Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio.

Is there nobody in the U.S. Congress with the leadership skills and courage to stand up and do what is both right and well-supported by scientific evidence in order to make America's broken system of democracy right again?

Is there nobody who will stare down the disingenuous and/or fearful and/or ill-informed and/or self-serving factions standing in the way of restoring America's once-great shining example of democracy to the world?

As the right to vote and to have that vote counted transparently and accurately underpins every other right we have in this country, we'll continue to keep digging, advocating, investigating, reporting, and hoping. The alternatives --- and consequences --- are far too dire to do anything less....

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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As we Sit Down for a One-on-One Debriefing with the Finnish Computer Security Expert and Discuss American Elections, Rush Holt's Reform Bill, Debra Bowen, 'Black Hats' and Why Elections Matter
Big Turnout and Good Press Coverage Accompany his Riverside Visit, Even if Jeff '1000 to 1' Stone Was a No Show...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2007 7:13pm PT  

Harri Hursti drove up to Los Angeles last Friday after his appearance that morning before the Riverside County, California, "Blue Ribbon" panel convened to investigate massive problems during the County's 2006 election, and continuing concerns from Election Integrity advocates about both the performance and security issues surrounding the Sequoia Edge II DRE touch-screen voting systems in use down there.

We sat down to interview Hursti for a documentary film for an hour or two on Friday night, and we continued chatting into the wee hours. After getting home around 4am, we suspect we'll be playing catching up for a few days.

The headline from those discussions last night is probably that Hursti, now famous for his hack of a paper-based Diebold optical-scan voting system in Leon County, Florida, in late 2005 (as seen live in HBO's documentary Hacking Democracy), advocates digital optically-scanned paper ballots --- where the image of the scan can then be made available to all on the Internet --- as the most secure and most transparent method of voting for the type of elections we have in these United States.

That may come as a surprise to advocates of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform bill, who have been pointing to the "Hursti Hack" as a way to suggest that op-scan tabulation is "just as bad" as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems. Holt's bill (HR811) would allow for the continued use of DREs, despite the continuing warnings from computer scientists, disabilities and minority rights advocates, and the Election Integrity community that the devices should be banned.

Hursti heartily disagrees with those Holt supporters and told us again that DREs are not safe for use in elections, with or without a so-called "voter verified paper audit trail." He's asked for us to help facilitate a meeting for him with Holt and his staff to discuss the matter, and we are attempting to do just that.

As well, Hursti's position may also come as a surprise to those who have pointed to the "Hursti Hack" in their call for 100% hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) in American elections. While Hursti said he recognizes that such a system works well enough in other countries where ballots are much simpler, he feels the thousands of ballot styles and pages and pages of candidates and propositions would likely make all HCPB unwieldy here. By contrast, he explained that in Finland, voters go to the poll and cast a single vote for President as the only race on the ballot, which is simple enough to hand count on the night of the election.

He rattled off the many different systems of democracy in many different countries, from Europe to Asia, as well as a history of how America has come to its current mess, going back as early as the late 1800's to discuss the evolution of our modern day system in this country. Clearly, he's done his homework and is well worth listening to on these matters.

Hursti also gave high marks to California's new Secretary of State Debra Bowen for her recent announcement of "red team" hack testing for all of the state's currently certified electronic voting systems, as part of her "top to bottom review" of those systems. Other computer scientists and security experts have lined up to join in praising Bowen for this unique, first-of-its-kind attempt to finally test the security of these systems.

On the other hand, many of the state's elections officials have come out against such testing of their precious, hackable, un-transparent voting systems. And, surprise surprise, so has the Santa Cruz Sentinel --- the paper once owned by thankfully-former CA SoS Bruce McPherson --- in a laughable editorial late last week claiming that "paper ballots carry an even greater risk" than electronic voting systems, and that Bowen's planned test criteria is a "solution in search of a problem."

We're not sure what cave the Santa Cruz Sentinel has been living in, but we're guessing they've been sharing their hard tack and canned spam with their buddy, the gone-but-apparently-not-forgotten McPherson, the one responsible for certifying these god-awful systems in the first place for the state, despite mountains of evidence suggesting it was unwise. We're also guessing they've never sat down to chat with Harri Hursti.

Hursti's visit to Riverside, as we reported here last week, was in response to County Supervisor Jeff Stone's challenge last December that nobody could manipulate the county's Sequoia election system. After Hursti volunteered to take Stone up on that "1000 to 1" challenge, the county has been waffling ever since. So quite a few members of both the public and the press were on hand yesterday for Hursti's testimony before the "Blue Ribbon" panel.

Although Hursti traveled all the way from Finland, Stone and every other member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors were apparently too busy to make it up the road to meet Hursti and listen to his presentation...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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All Eyes on Harri Hursti in Riverside County...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2007 12:53am PT  

FEATURING: Our One-on-One Debriefing with the Finnish Computer Security Expert on American Elections, Rush Holt's Reform Bill, Debra Bowen, 'Black Hats,' and Why Elections Matter...Pre-details back here...

UPDATE: Story now posted here...

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