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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 30, 2014
Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
Latest barometer of denialist desperation: The rightwing 'thought leader', as usual, is wrong on the facts and science, so he's just taking his ball and going home...
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'Green News Report' 8/28/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP refinery explodes. Again.; UN report warns of 'irreversible' warming; Fines for oil, chem spills; 22% of world elec. is now green; PLUS: People's Climate March coming to NYC...
Previous GNRs: 8/26/14 - 8/21/14 - Archives...
Faking the Ferguson Docs:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad interviews open records advocate Charlie Grapski on his evidence that Ferguson and St. Louis County police are illegally withholding evidence in the killing of Michael Brown; Plus MUCH more...
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
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Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
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The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
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Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Party/Reception Thrown for Feeney in 2003 by YEI!
The year after Feeney claims to have ended his ?connection? with the scandal-plagued FL software firm!
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2005 3:01pm PT  

After an interview with Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL), The New Times Broward-Palm Beach reported:

He ended the professional relationship [with Yang Enterprises, Inc], which had extended through all 12 years of his time in the state House, only after he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2002.

After another interview with Feeney, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC reported:

In short, Feeney says he doesn't remember meeting Mr. Curtis; that his only connection to Yang Enterprises was as an attorney prior to 2002.

Despite the reports above, we've discussed the fact several times that Feeney's Campaign Headquarters is still located in the YEI building, and that the Yangs and their attorney Michael O'Quinn continue to be huge campaign donors to Feeney...

But --- other than that --- no ?connection to Yang Enteprises" since 2002?

Well, that's interesting, because it looks like the truth is --- again --- somewhat different from what Feeney would have folks believe. Look what we seem to have found here (Screencaptured, just in case it disappears from the net like so much else these days.):

There are several more photos of Feeney with Dr. and Mrs. Yang at this YEI-sponsored event in 2003 along with members of ATAYAL on the linked page above.

Feeney's questionable --- and apparently, continuing --- connections with YEI were brought to light in early December when we first reported exclusively on programmer Clint Curtis' sworn affidavit alleging that Feeney had asked him to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" during an October 2000 meeting at YEI in Oviedo, Florida.

The key articles from our series of reports on that matter can be read here.

Our call to Feeney's press spokesperson seeking explanation about the 2003 party thrown for Feeney by YEI has not yet been returned. We have not yet been able to ascertain who actually paid for Feeney's trip to Asia, but, of course, we will continue to look into this story and report any new developments.

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Report Validates Yet Another Clint Curtis Allegation!
Convicted Chinese Spy Was Illegal when Working for YEI as of 2000!
ALSO: Official Report Claims YEI 'Petitioned' I.N.S. on Nee's Behalf!
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2005 4:28pm PT  

Documents from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) recently obtained by The BRAD BLOG confirm yet another of Clint Curtis' stunning allegations against Oviedo software firm Yang Enteprises, Inc. and Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL).

The documents, released exclusively here, in full, by The BRAD BLOG, show that, according to Federal officials at the Homeland Security Department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, convicted spy and Chinese national, Hai Lin Nee (a/k/a Henry Nee) had been --- as Curtis alleged, first in 2001 and again in his sworn affidavit [PDF], --- an illegal alien during the period that Curtis worked with him at YEI.

According to the report --- published as part of a three-year investigation spurred by the charges of Curtis and another whistleblower at FDOT who first reported in 2001 on alleged wrong doing at YEI --- Nee's legal alien status in America had expired on December 31, 1999.

From the report...

On August 27, 2004, SA Curtis Johnson, Department of Homeland Security, ICE, Office of Investigation, stated that Nee's legal alien status was good until December 31, 199. SA Johnson went on to say that as of January 1, 2000, Nee would have been out of legal status and would have been an illegal alien.
...
On October 26, 2004, SA Curtis confirmed the information he previously provided stating that Nee's legal alien status lasted until December 31, 1999, and as of January 1, 2000, Nee would have been an illegal alien.

The report also shows that YEI --- who has on several occassions denied that Nee was ever an employee, or even a consultant at YEI --- petioned the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on Nee's behalf to extend his visa sometime during 1999!

The report goes on to say, "That request was disapproved by INS based on a lack of information on the application for Nee submitted by YEI."

The BRAD BLOG has previously published records showing "Weekly Time Reports" from YEI which demonstrate that Nee did, in fact, work for YEI. The OIG's recent report, as well, further confirms that fact. (We will have more from the FDOT IG's recent report later this week as we finish studying the documents.)

During the period in which Nee was working for YEI, Feeney was their general counsel as well as their registered lobbyist. All that while he also served as the powerful Speaker of the Florida House at the same time. Feeney, who was a one-time running mate to Jeb Bush and currently sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee from Florida's 24th district, was charged, by Curtis, with having asked him to build a "vote-rigging software prototype" while Curtis was a YEI employee.

Previously, we had published a number of emails from several company employees, including Nee himself, indicating that Nee worked at the firm after 1999, when his legal alien status would have lapsed and when Feeney was working with YEI to help them procure large contracts with the state and others, including NASA.

One of those emails, from Mike Cohen, YEI CEO's executive secretary, indicates that he was aware that Nee was illegal (the misspellings are Cohen's):

From: "M C" |XXXXXXXX@hotmail.com|
To: XXXXXXXXXXXX@XXXX.XXX
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 15:47:46 -0400
Message-ID: |F145mS40m3DwZpu6ZY00000b1f9@hotmail.com|
...
Henri is ever still tryhing to become a non-illegal alien; you know, he dodn't probably have to pay tazes, and I do. I don't like that.

And on April 15th, 2001, the day after the above email from Cohen, Nee himself wrote to Curtis indicating his work at YEI where Curtis had recently resigned due to the alleged shenanigans at the company:

From: XXXXX@aol.com
To: XXXXXXXXXXXX@XXXX.XXX
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 22:50:33 EDT
Subject: (no subject)

Clint:

Long time no talk, how are you doing? How is the weather treating you?
Any progress on your job search?

Fernado keeps adding boxes to the alrerady very crowded PE screen, it is really killing us, may be you should come back and save us, ha ha ha.

Best regards,

Henry

Mike Cohen, discussed in a recent article here as having filed a potentially false police report against Curtis, was said to have been present along with YEI CEO, Mrs. Li-Woan Yang, during the October 2000 meeting at YEI when the vote-rigging software was alleged to have been discussed by Feeney.

It is not clear in the OIG's report why it took until August of 2004 to confirm Nee's illegal alien status since Curtis had reported him as illegal to several officials as long ago as early 2001.

There are indications in the report, however, that Federal Officials, for unexplained reasons, refused to supply information to the OIG on Nee's alien status until after Nee's federal indictment on three charges of espionage for having attempted to ship chips used in the Hellfilre anti-missile system to the People's Republic of China had been completed.

No explanation is given in the report for the delay from Federal Officials on releasing information about Nee's alien status, but it does go on to say that:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tylke confirmed that she had instructed SA [Special Agent] Oliver from ICE not to release any information regarding Nee's alien status.

Nee's indictment was the result of a four-year federal sting operation by ICE who, in describing the arrest on their website (Ed Note: Page was archived off of the ICE site, here is a version of the page we saved before it was removed), had explained that each of the three charges was punishable by "up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines."

The plea agreement eventually struck, in July of 2004 between Nee and the Feds on Count Three of the indictment, quotes him as having said, "that business has been slow in the last year and that he had only sent parts out of the country ten to twenty times..." [emphasis added]

It also specified that the one count on which Nee was pleading guilty "carrie[d] a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years, and a special assessment of $100 per felony count thereafter."

However, as first reported exclusively by The BRAD BLOG last December, Nee was eventually sentenced in October of 2004 to a total of just three years probation and a $100 fine.

Nee still resides near YEI in Oviedo, FL.

Curtis' allegations about Nee were just one of many made by the software programmer about improprieties at YEI. The startling allegation that Feeney had asked Curtis to create the "vote-rigging software prototype" while at YEI continues to rock the vote from Tallahassee to Capitol Hill.

Both Feeney, Cohen and YEI's attorneys have denied those allegations, but then again they've denied a number of related allegations as well. Many of those denials, however, have already been proven false by continued reporting on this matter since December at The BRAD BLOG and elswhere.

To date, none of Curtis' allegations have been in any way proven to be untrue. And, in fact, many of them --- including this latest information showing that Nee was an illegal alien, as Curtis charged long ago --- have, in fact, proven to be completely accurate.

The BRAD BLOG will, of course, continue to report on this explosive developing scandal...

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Letter Entirely Unthreatening, Claims Reported from Feeney and Unnamed YEI Attorney Unfounded!
MSNBC Prime-Time Star's Original Unconfirmed, Unfortunate, Irresponsible Report Entirely Off-Base!
By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2005 1:32pm PT  

In a text-book case of everything that the MSM might appropriately use to illustrate everything that can be wrong and dangerous about bloggers and blogging, a report filed just before Christmas on the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Inc. (YEI) vote-rigging software scandal was published by a blogger.

The report included demonstrably false information passed on by the blogger on behalf of both Feeney and an unnamed attorney from YEI. The report was so poorly researched, so scurrilously irresponsible and so inappropriately damaging to a single American citizen, that if all blogs articles were like this one, we'd be the first in line calling for the immediate abolition of all such Internet web logs.

Unfortunately, that reprehensible report was filed on the "Bloggerman" blog of the mainstream media's (or MSM's) own Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's prime-time Countdown program.

As we reported back in late December of last year, Olbermann gave a wonderful Christmas gift to Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) and his longtime friends and clients at YEI by filing a one-sided, unconfirmed and unverified report on his blog, sourced only by Feeney himself and YEI's unnamed attorney.

The victim was, of course, Clint Curtis, who Olbermann didn't even bother to reach for comment before giving Feeney a national platform to say that Curtis had "slandered and defamed a lot of people." Neither did Olbermann give any examples of who Feeney was claiming to have been slandered nor how they were defamed.

(Attempts to reach Olbermann for comment after he posted his blog item went unanswered, but his producer, who asked to remain unnamed, distanced themselves from the "reporting" by telling The BRAD BLOG that "this was Keith Olbermann's writing. He didn't work with me or anyone else on this.")

There was a fair amount of other inaccuracies in his report, but it was this following chestnut, apparently not fact-checked in any way, from an unnamed YEI attorney (believed to be Tom Feeney's old law-partner and current contributor, Michael O'Quinn) that has really ticked us off over the last two months:

Its lawyer claims Curtis has previously threatened the firm and its top officers, in writing, and that they were sufficiently concerned to file a police report as a result.

...And what might have been, for actual reporters, a promising lead or break to look into in order to advance the story and perhaps add a new dimension to it, was dumped wholly unfact-checked on an eager public from Mr. Olbermann's high-profile perch.

The BRAD BLOG has spent the last two months attempting to track down this anonymously claimed threat to "the firm and its top officers". A threat, mind you, that was described as being "in writing" and apparently so threatening that it required a police report be filed.

Olbermann, apparently, thought it perfectly proper to pass that information on to the nation without asking the unnamed attorney if he might be allowed to review the alleged "in writing" threat, or to even contact the police to find out if, in fact, any such report had ever been filed.

Well, The BRAD BLOG did both.

After nearly two months trying to track down the unchecked Olbermann report, we've finally located the supposed threatening writing as well as the police report which was indeed filed. Though it was not filed at YEI's local police precinct in Oviedo, FL. Nor by "the firm" or its "top officers".

It was filed in Winter Springs, FL, the next town over, at the local police precinct of Mike Cohen, Curtis' co-worker and the executive secretary, at the time, to YEI's CEO, Mrs. Li-Waon Yang. The letter "sufficiently concern[ing] to file a police report" as Olbermann described it, seems very clearly meant as an attempt by Curtis to help his former friend and co-worker, Cohen, not to threaten him...

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

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TIME Reports China Exporting Spies by the Thousands!
While Republicans Pretend to Give a Damn.
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2005 2:24pm PT  

The short article in this coming week's TIME Magazine begins this way:

"Ning Wen and his wife were arrested last fall at their home office in Manitowoc, Wis., for allegedly sending their native China $500,000 worth of computer parts that could enhance missile systems."

Sound familiar? It will to regular BRAD BLOG readers.

The article, titled "China's Big Export: When it comes to spying, Beijing likes to flood the zone", continues...

As these naturalized citizens await trial, similar episodes in Mount Pleasant, N.J., and Palo Alto, Calif., point only to the tip of the iceberg, according to FBI officials keeping tabs on more than 3,000 companies in the U.S. suspected of collecting information for China...Says a senior FBI official: "China is trying to develop a military that can compete with the U.S., and they are willing to steal to get [it]."

But instead of assigning one well-trained agent to pursue a target, "the Chinese are very good at putting a lot of people on just a little piece and getting a massive amount of stuff home," says a U.S. intelligence official.

So if this is a real problem in the United States, why has at least one --- Hai Lin Nee (a/k/a Henry Nee), the one who was reported to authorities years ago by Clint Curtis as spying on the United States while working at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) --- been arrested on three counts, allowed to plead guilty to just one, and then let go with hardly a slap on the wrist?

(Nee, believed by Curtis and YEI CEO's Executive Secretary, Mike Cohen, to be an illegal alien has been allowed to stay in the U.S. and received just three-years probation and a $100 fine after having admitted "that business has been slow in the last year and that he had only sent parts out of the country ten to twenty times" according to the plea agreement. See our earlier exclusive report for more details and a look at the court papers.)

Perhaps the answer to that question might be found in TIME's closer:

To help sort the few who go to America to spy from the thousands who go there for a better life, the FBI relies heavily on Chinese informants. Says a high-ranking Silicon Valley agent: "We have almost more assets than we can deal with."

Hmmm...Has Henry Nee turned "asset"?

Is he now spying on/informing on his old friends at YEI?

Is that why late just last year the Feds allowed him to plead guilty to just one charge and then walk despite his arrest after a four-year sting operation?

Is that why he is still allowed to work for YEI, a company which requires "Top Secret clearance" for sensitive contracts with NASA and others which Jeb Bush's former running-mate Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) had helped them attain? A company which, despite their denials, a "Special Agent assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orlando, Florida" claimed via email on Nov. 22 of 2004 was "under investigation by another Division of the FBI"? (Would the company even know if they were being investigated by the FBI? Does the FBI send out telegrams as a courtesy to inform such companies in order to give them time to shred the evidence?) A company, mind you, which still claims that Nee had never been an "employee" or a "consultant" despite public records published late last year by The BRAD BLOG which demonstrate they are lying?

Has Henry made a secret deal with the FBI to turn state's evidence against the Yang's in exchange for his extraordinarily light sentence?

And finally, on a somewhat personal sidenote, shouldn't all the rightwingers who've unsuccessfully attempted to discredit Curtis as a liar be ashamed of themselves for doing so simply to protect Feeney and his good friends, the Bush's, while Curtis has been, apparently, both patriotic and extremely courageous in trying to help keep secrets of United States weapons technology from being stolen by the People's Republic of China?

Do such rightwingers have any allegiance to their country and the safety of its citizens? Or is the retension of political power for their party of choice, even at the expense of National Security, one of those "moral values" they pretend to have and that we've heard so much about?

We have a feeling this story will continue...

(Thanks to BRAD BLOG friend, reader, occassional guest-blogger and "asset", Fin of What We Know, for the tip on the TIME article!)

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By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2005 5:01pm PT  

I've posted important updates to two different stories from yesterday.

One is on the story of Yang offering Curtis $1 Million to come back and "work" for them in a No-Show job. The update now includes actual evidence of Curtis having told this story to the now-deceased FDOT Inspector General Raymond Lemme back in April of 2002. A piece of that recently uncovered evidentiary report is now included to partly corroborate Curtis' story on the matter. The updated story is here.

And the New Times Broward-Palm Beach story on Clint Curtis has now published. A link to the very good story online, and a quick comment or two from yours truly (what did you expect?) are available via the original item from yesterday.

No comments link on this thread so you can post any you may have at the appropriate story.

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...And other details from Brad's Meeting with Clint Curtis in UT.
PLUS: Clint Curtis Answers Questions from BRAD BLOG Readers!
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2005 8:35pm PT  

Regular BRAD BLOG readers know that we took the opportunity of an invitation to interview Clint Curtis live at the Freedom Cinema Festival in Park City, UT, recently to grab a few days of vacation via roadtrip on the way there and back.

Persistent (but finally waning) headcold, exhaustion, and a welcome lack of net access kept us from documenting the event in any more than scant details until now.

Some of the most notable results from the event are now still in-progress. So we're somewhat reluctant for the moment to show our hand on several of those in-progress connections made until more tangible fruit is borne from the various leads.

Holding back information from devoted readers is not something I'm entirely comfortable with. But we've learned along the way --- especially when dealing with issues of the potential magnitude of the Clint Curtis story --- that it's smarter, when in doubt, to keep cards close to the vest in such cases, even at the risk of off-putting readers.

We don't like to do it. But it is, apparently, a necessary evil if we are both to make headway and retain our fairly well-earned reputation here for getting it right, respecting our sources, and not giving away the ship until we are damned good and ready to let the chips fall where they may.

So, with all of that said, we hope to offer more details on the nefarious plans hatched and fruitful connections made via the FCF event when the time is right. Be that a few days, weeks or months from now as things shape up. We'll see.

What we can report on for the moment is how things went in general, our impressions of Clint Curtis after having spent a fair amount of face-to-face time, and his answers to some of the questions sent in by BRAD BLOG commenters prior to the interview...

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

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Article to hit stands and net tomorrow!
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2005 3:05pm PT  

You thought the Clint Curtis story had run its course just because we've been otherwise distracted here over the past month by historic Congressional Electoral College challenges, Velvet Revolutions, out-of-town seminars and headcolds? Well, think again.

There are several media outfits currently looking at and/or working on stories that either report on "our story so far" or advance things a bit. Yours truly, whenever we can catch up with all of the above, to be included in that list.

Things are moving. And perhaps quickly. So we hope to catch up over the next couple of days where possible.

In the meantime, the next oufit out of the gate to touch on the Clint Curtis story will be yet another of Feeney's "hometown papers" (get those legal threat letters ready, Tom), The New Times Broward-Palm Beach, tomorrow morning in a piece by staff writer Trevor Aaronson.

The first article on the matter from The New Times B-PB --- which we have not seen but which has been described to us by a source at the paper --- reports on the several aspects of Curtis' charges against both Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) and Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) which have already been borne out as accurate via reporting by The BRAD BLOG, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, other sources and their own original investigation of several related matters.

The bad news for Feeney is that much of the meat and potatoes of Curtis' allegations are about to receive even wider coverage in South Florida (Flashback to Curtis' affidavit [PDF] quoting YEI CEO Mrs. Yang: "You don't understand, in order to get the contract we have to hide the manipulation in the source code. This program is needed to control the vote in South Florida.")

The latest thorn in Tom Feeney's side is scheduled to hit the stands on Wednesday. We will, of course, offer a link to the online version of the article just as soon as it is made available to us. We're told it should be up by tomorrow P.M.

UPDATE 2/9/05: Aaronson's story at New Times Broward-Palm Beach is now online headlined "Pulp Nonfiction". And it's very well done. He's taken the basics of a rather complicated story, and made very readable sense of it.

We have only the smallest of quibbles with a few details, but believe they are worth mentioning here just to keep the record straight.

Aaronson writes:

On December 6, 2004, Curtis submitted to Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee a four-page affidavit detailing the meeting with Feeney.

That's true. Though they had already received it from us as the Affidavit was first submitted to us and released by The BRAD BLOG on the morning of the 6th. We, in turn, gave it to our sources on the House JC and infact set up the meeting in D.C. between Curtis and those sources in the first place.

Incidentally, we are given no credit by Aaronson for any of reporting beyond the generic mention of "Bloggers have reported on the story with idealistic conviction."

In truth, it's not really the credit that we want for ourselves in general, but in an age where bloggers like us and other Internet-only news sites (like RAW STORY, for example) are breaking stories that the corporate media is missing, and getting those stories right in the bargain, it's important that alternative newsweeklies like New Times give credit where it's due.

We believe they'd have likely given credit to a NY Times reporter had they first broken the story and continued for two months reporting new details on it regularly. And if outlets such as ours are going to receive the credibility they deserve (when they deserve it), alternative news outlets such as New Times ought to be giving us our due.

The other small, but notable quibble...Aaronson mentions in his reporting on Feeney's relationship with Yang (YEI):

"He ended the professional relationship, which had extended through all 12 years of his time in the state House, only after he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2002...His 2002 congressional campaign even rented office space from Yang."

In truth, the relationship continues! Feeney's 2004 campaign continues to have its office and mailing address in the Yang Building as evidenced even today on Feeney's official website. (See the screenshots taken today below.) And both the Yang's, their company and their attorney O'Quinn (Feeney's longtime friend and former law partner at Fowler, Barice, Feeney and O'Quinn P.A.) were both substantial contributors to Feeney's 2004 campaign...in which Feeney ran unopposed.

None the less, it was a very well done article and we recommend you give it a read. We're sure Feeney's and YEI's attorneys will be doing so. We look forward to more investigation and reporting from Aaronson and The New Times P-BP.

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A Live BRAD BLOG / Freedom Cinema Festival Event!
PLUS: I'm outta here! (for a bit) & Happy Anniversary to Us!
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2005 8:10pm PT  

I will be appearing this Saturday, Jan 29th at the Freedom Cinema Festival with Clint Curtis in a live event co-sponsored by The BRAD BLOG. It'll be my first time meeting him in person, and it should be a fun afternoon/evening. (Don't worry, I'm told security will be very good).

The festival takes place in Park City, UT smack-dab in the middle of the Sundance Festival. So if any of you are in the area, please be sure to come on by and say hello after the event! There is a ton of terrific political films, events and speakers scheduled, including Greg Palast and Danny Shecter, and, of course, me, so come on by! Click the link above --- or better yet --- the advertisement for the festival at left for more info!

As I'll be interviewing Curtis live, I'd love to open up this comment thread for any questions you might like me to ask Curtis directly from The BRAD BLOG denizens during the event! If they're ones I haven't thought of, I'll try and get the goods for ya straight from the whistleblowers mouth.

I'm told the event will be videotaped, so we'll try and link it up next week upon our return if possible.

And finally...After nearly six months of nearly non-stop 24/7 bloggin' to save the world, countless stories broken, and buckets of muck raked, I'm gonna attempt to use this opportunity to take a slow roadtrip to UT and back and try and get a much needed break here for a week (or so).

Tomorrow, by the way, will be the One Year Anniversary for The BRAD BLOG. What a short strange trip it's been. Thank you all for your support every step of the way. I'd say something more poetic, but I gotta get outta here. So that's that until next year!

I hope you'll forgive my absense (I know Tom Feeney will) for a bit, as I will be attempting to stay away from all things net for as long as possible. We'll see how well I do. I may just jump in from the road as events warrant. But I hope they won't warrant. And I hope there's no net.

Until then, BRAD BLOG stalwart and official typo-corrector, Winter Patriot (of the fine eponymously- named blog and friend Fin (of the superb and silly What We Know blog) may jump in and do some guest-blogging and/or open thread-posting.

Please be nice to them, and keep a good eye on democracy while I'm gone! I would like it to be in much better shape than when I left it! So keep making noise in favor of Truth, Justice and the American Way over at Velvet Revolution while I'm gone as well! And stand by for some trouble-making over there when I return which I believe you will enjoy as well!

(To all the Emailers, forgive my inability to reply while I'm gone, much as you forgive my inability to reply when I'm here!)

Peace.

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Letter just sent to Republican Majority Chairman!
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2005 1:31pm PT  

Nine Democratic House Judiciary Committee members (Conyers, Nadler, Scott, Lofgren, Jackson Lee, Meehan, Waters, Wexler, Schiff) have just requested that the committee "hold hearings and investigate the vital issue of protecting our citizens right to vote".

The text of their letter (without footnotes) to the Republican chair of the committee is as follows...

January 19, 2004

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We write to you at the very outset of the 109th Congress, to request that our committee hold hearings and investigate the vital issue of protecting our citizens right to vote. The right to vote is the very foundation of our Democracy and is at the core of our Committee's jurisdiction, and we can think of no more important or urgent issue before us than protecting our democratic rights. While the election is settled, however, our job as legislators on the Judiciary Committee to make sure that the constitutional right to vote is protected is just beginning.

In congressional forums many of us participated in Washington D.C. and Columbus, Ohio, we learned of significant voter irregularities in Ohio. These irregularities are included in a 100 page report Mr. Conyers issued, and include the following:

� The misallocation of voting machines led to lines of ten hours or more that disenfranchised scores if not hundreds of thousands of predominantly minority and Democratic voters. In Franklin County, 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush, while six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.

� The Ohio Republican Party's decision to engage in preelection �caging� tactics, selectively targeting 35,000 predominantly minority voters for intimidation had a negative impact on voter turnout. The Third Circuit found these activities to be illegal and in direct violation of consent decrees barring the targeting minority voters for poll challenges.

� The Ohio Republican Party's decision to utilize thousands of partisan challengers concentrated in minority and Democratic areas disenfranchised numerous legal voters, who were not only intimidated, but became discouraged by the long lines in the adverse weather. Shockingly, these disruptions were publicly predicted by Republican officials: Mark Weaver, a lawyer for the Ohio Republican Party, admitted the challenges �can't help but create chaos, longer lines and frustration.�

� Numerous instances of intimidation and misinformation occurred across the state of Ohio that would appear to violate the Voting Rights Act. For example, the NAACP stated that it received over 200 calls regarding incidents of suspected voter intimidation or unusual election related activities, particularly actions taken by challengers who intimidated poll workers and voters. Other specific incidents involved a caller who reported that someone was going door-to-door telling people they were not registered to vote. A voter in Franklin County received information in the mail identified as being from the state that said he would have to vote by provisional ballot because he had moved; in fact, the voter had not moved and had lived at the address for 10-15 years. One polling place worker was reportedly only asking African American voters for their address.

� In Franklin County, a worker at the Holiday Inn observed a team of 25 people who called themselves the �Texas Strike Force� using payphones to make intimidating calls to likely voters, targeting people recently in the prison system. The �Texas Strike Force� members hotel accommodations were apparently paid for by the Ohio Republican Party, whose headquarters is across the street. The hotel worker heard one caller threaten a likely voter with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he voted. Another hotel worker called the police, who came but did nothing. There were also reports of phone calls incorrectly informing voters that their polling place had changed.

� The Cleveland Plain Dealer found that several Lake County residents received an official-looking letter on Board of Elections letterhead informing them that their polling place had changed or that they were not properly registered to vote. A fake voter bulletin from Franklin County Board of Elections was posted at polling locations, and fliers were distributed in the inner city, telling Republicans to vote on Tuesday and Democrats to vote on Wednesday due to unexpected heavy voter registration.

� In Cleveland, the Washington Post reported that unknown volunteers began showing up at voters' doors illegally offering to collect and deliver complete absentee ballots to the election office. The Election Protection Coalition testified that in Franklin County, voters received fliers informing them that they could cast a ballot on November 3. Also, in Franklin County there were reports that about a dozen voters were contacted by someone claiming to be from the county board of elections, telling them their voting location was changed, and �door-hangers� telling African-American voters to go to the wrong precinct were distributed.

In our view, this course of events is not consistent with the right to vote as we understand it. The fact that many of these instances appear to be focused particularly on minority voters is all the more disheartening, and triggers even more clearly our jurisdiction involving civil rights.

We look forward to full and open hearings concerning these instances of disenfranchisement in Ohio and around the Nation. We very much would like to work with you and your staff to insure that allegations of improprieties by both Democrats and Republicans are looked into and considered.

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By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2005 11:38am PT  

Clint Curtis is currently on Capitol Hill now meeting with Senate staffers.

We can report that he has already met this morning with staffers in the office of the following Democratic Senators: Debbie Sabatow (MI), Russell Feingold (WI), Barbara Boxer (CA), Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Barack Obama (IL).

Meetings are scheduled later today with the staffers of these additional Senate offices: Ted Kennedy (MA), Dick Durbin (IL), Patrick Leahy (VT), Ken Salazar (CO).

A source visting the Senate offices with Curtis tells us that so far the reception they've received from each office has been "very positive" and that "things are lit up like a Christmas tree here" with all of the Senate office phones ringing off the hook with callers urging Senators to stand up and object. Almost zero calls coming in advising the contrary as our source describes it.

At the time we talked with our source, the Democratic Senators were in "an issue meeting", and the source tells us that this issue --- the challenge to Electors tomorrow --- is described as "the major issue" being discussed.

There is no way, of course, to know the ultimate effect of all of this, but it is clear that your voices are being heard on Capitol Hill! Please continue to use the links and phone numbers we've made available in this item.

We'll continue to report on anything notable we hear that is happening on The Hill today.

Also, consider this a quick reminder that Curtis will be appearing on radio this evening with Fox News' Alan Colmes at 11pm. Details on that appearance, and a link to listen live is right here.

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'The Oviedo Voice' Jumps Into the Fray!
Reports on 'Off Record' Interview with Congressman.
By Brad Friedman on 12/31/2004 1:36pm PT  

As mentioned on Wednesday, and following in the footsteps of The Seminole Chronicle before them, Tom Feeney's other hometown weekly newspaper has jumped into reporting on the emerging "FeeneyGate" scandal. The previously promised article in their Dec. 30th edition hit the stands yesterday.

While The Oviedo Voice --- the older of the two local newsweeklies --- has a website, we are told they are currently transitioning it and thus it is not being regularly updated. Given the national attention this story is now receiving, however, the editors of the paper have told The BRAD BLOG that they will make an attempt to get their full Feeney article online this coming Monday. We'll update this item to provide a link to it at that time.

For now, we've received a faxed copy of the story, and it represents mostly the "balanced coverage" the paper had promised in their previous week's teaser item.

While chosing to focus, for now, only on the initial Feeney-related allegations in her article (as opposed to the wider-reaching Yang Enterprises, Inc. and Florida Dept. of Transportation related charges), reporter Darla Kinney Scoles writes that her report would "only address those statements made regarding Mr. Feeney."

The result is a mostly even-handed story, though it fails to advance the story-to-date too terribly much.

We are told by the editors, however, that they "intend to continue reporting on this story over the next three to four weeks at least". Encouraging news. And we hope, in the process, that they will be able to investigate more of the specifics in those future pieces now that they've gotten the main meat and potatos of the story out of the way for their readers.

Aside from (note to our former best-friends at crosstown-rival Seminole Chronicle) the appreciated hat tip to The BRAD BLOG for the "over 50 pages" said to have been reviewed by Kinney Scoles in preparing her piece, the most notable point taken from the article is the fact that Feeney himself, who had contacted the paper to offer an interview on the matter, kept his promise, but would not allow the interview to be "on record"!

As reported by Kinney Scoles...

The Oviedo Voice was indeed contacted by Congressman Feeney last week and was able to speak with him concerning these allegations and to gain extensive background information on the long and often complicated story as it has thus far evolved.

What we were not able to do was to interview Feeney ?on record' as we had hoped.

Once again, Feeney continues his now-growing track record of, if not having anything to hide, sure as hell acting like someone who does!

Why did he chose to duck attempts to get comment weeks ago from Oviedo's Seminole Chronicle? Why did he decide to approach The Voice only after The Chronicle published their report on the matter? Why all the "off record" interviews and comments to reporters? Why the apparently coordinated threats of lawsuits against a small local newsweekly for merely reporting on public news of note to their local readers?

And perhaps most notably: Why no such legal threats by Feeney against the actual person, Clint Curtis, making the allegations which Feeney's attorneys have described as "outrageous" and "obviously false and defamatory"?

As all responsible news organizations say: We report, you decide.

A few other items of note from the Voice piece...

We appreciate that Kinney Scoles points out the very plausible reason for the lack --- so far --- of corroborating sources who have been willing to come forward (publicly, via affidavit or at least "on the record" anyway) to confirm some of the details of Curtis' claim that Feeney conspired to create "vote-rigging" software.

On that point, she astutely notes:

In Fairness: Not everyone is willing to give up his or her job, name, etc. for a cause. Perhaps they are also leery of Feeney's connections to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and their subpoena power, which could, in theory, provide him direct access to the names of those who would seek protection before testifying.

It would be nice if other members of the media would recognize that seemingly-obvious point before reporting on a surely-relevant aspect of the story, but doing so without bothering to look particularly closely at the matter.

A point which would be made particularly clear if such reporters actually took the time to examine some of the horrifying things that Curtis claims has happened to him over the years as a result of initially blowing the whistle with these allegations.

For Feeney's part, Kinney Scoles quotes Feeney staffer Shannon Conklin as saying "These claims are too ridiculous to answer. It is irresponsible for anyone to publish allegations without close investigation of all claims."

Such broadly dismissive boilerplate comments from both Feeney and his surrogates have, by now, become all too commonplace and accepted by many of the journalists who have been looking into these matters. Particularly in light of the very "close examination of all claims" that has occurred and continues to occur over these last nearly-four weeks by us and many others. Add to that the "close examination" of many of the related claims made previously in the matter against Feeney in a long series of articles by both The Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Orlando Sentinel back during 2001 and 2002 when the bulk of these charges were first brought to light.

Lastly, the article finishes on a by-now fairly obvious, though no-doubt disconcerting note for Feeney who might have hoped to put out the fire set ablaze in the past few weeks by giving an "off record" interview to a hopefully-friendly hometown paper:

As one source put it, ?We cannot say that where there is smoke there is fire. We do have to say that there is some smoke.? The Oviedo Voice continues to follow that smoke, as do other media outlets.

And with that we are pleased to add The Oviedo Voice to the growing list of news organizations who seem willing to place the public interest ahead of both fear and political cronyism.

At least for now.

AS IT IS SAID...DEVELOPING...

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2002 Article Revealed Evidence
2004 Threats of Legal Action by Feeney Use Commission Findings as Defense.
By Brad Friedman on 12/30/2004 2:43pm PT  

In a story yesterday, we alluded to "public documents and email which seemed to directly contradict statements made by Feeney" to the Florida Commission on Ethics which investigated some --- but not all --- of the serious charges Clint Curtis has recently made in a sworn affidavit and public testimony to members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee concerning Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL).

Some of the information we alluded to was based, in part, on an October 12, 2002 Daytona Beach News-Journal piece headlined "E-mails at odds with Feeney denials".

We'd seen the article some time ago, but as it was not publicly available other than via purchase at the The News-Journal Print Archives we hadn't linked to it specifically or discussed it in depth.

A linkable copy of that original 2002 article has now been found via The Wayback Machine (an Internet archive/cache site), which allows us to look in a bit more detail at the contradictory statements made by Feeney at the time to the Florida Commission on Ethics which was investigating charges against the then-House Speaker of the Florida Legislature.

Feeney, now a U.S. Congressman who sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and several of his surrogates have recently pointed, on a number of occassions, to the findings of that Commission citing their conclusions of "no probable cause" as his defense for the charges being made by Clint Curtis.

Those findings were alluded to in a threatening letter from Feeney's attorney to The Seminole Chronicle, who wrote a recent article on the matter; in another nearly-identical threatening letter to The Chronicle purported to be from a Yang Enterprise, Inc. (YEI) attorney; and again just today in an off-the-record interview by Feeney, which was used in an article published by The Oviedo Voice. (More on that article here hopefully later today).

As the findings of that commission seem to be the main, if not sole, defense that Feeney is using to answer to Curtis' charges that Feeney was involved in a "vote-rigging" conspiracy in 2000, it would seem that some of the contradicting information discovered in the 2002 News-Journal article (and there were a series of them) has become rather relevant again.

We've already pointed out that 6 of the 8 appointees to the commission were appointed to it by and/or had close ties to either Feeney himself or his one-time running mate Jeb Bush (Feeney was Bush's running mate during his first unsuccessful run for Florida Governor in 1994).

We also pointed out that --- in apparent contradiction to Florida state law --- the two people having filed the charges in the first place with the commission, Clint Curtis and his then-boss at the Florida Dept. of Transportion (FDOT) Mavis Georgalis, were never interviewed at all by the commission.

And as well, we pointed out that the commission wasn't even investigating the alleged "vote-rigging" conspiracy now being discussed amongst Curtis' charges.

But let's take a look at some of the specific troubling information that the News-Journal's Laura Zuckerman uncovered during her investigation into those Emails back in 2002.

Many of both YEI and Feeney's current apparent strategies of denial, dismissal and multiple contradictory statements about the charges seems to have already been in full play even back in 2002, despite strong evidence which contradicted many of their public statements on the matter...

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

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Language in Certified Letter from YEI Attorneys VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL to Previous Threat Letter from Feeney Attorneys!
ALL-NEW CLAIM BY YEI ATTORNEY: A Former Employer Says Curtis is 'Pathological Liar'
By Brad Friedman on 12/29/2004 11:41am PT  

After receiving a faxed letter from Congressman Tom Feeney's (R-FL) attorneys last week threatening legal action, The Seminole Chronicle has now received a second such letter, this time from the attorneys of Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI).

The language in both letters to The Chronicle is remarkably similar, and in some cases, virtually identical suggesting a collusion between the two different parties in an attempt to silence the local weekly in Feeney's hometown from reporting on the growing "vote-rigging" scandal.

The certified letter, with the signature of Michael A. O'Quinn of "Fowler and O'Quinn, P.A.", (though confirmed by The BRAD BLOG to have in fact been signed in his name by his paralegal, Rebecca Saylor, who has told us that "Michael O'Quinn is currently on a boat in the Bahamas" and will not be back to work until January 3rd) asks Feeney's hometown newsweekly, to "place your liability insurance carrier on notice of YEI's intentions in this regard" and requests that they "forward to the undersigned promptly the name of said insurer, the policy number of said liability policy, and the coverage limits thereunder."

The YEI attorney, Michael O'Quinn is a large campaign contributor, along with Dr. and Mrs. Yang, to Feeney, and served as Feeney's law partner for many years until 2002. "Fowler and O'Quinn, P.A." was previously known as "Fowler, Barice, Feeney and O'Quinn, P.A."

This is the second legal threat to The Chronicle since they published their initial story on the sworn affidavit and sworn public testimony by software programmer Clint Curtis.

Curtis's affidavit and testimony charged that Feeney conspired with YEI to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" in 2000 when Curtis was employeed by the firm and Feeney was their corporate counsel and registered lobbyist even while he was a member of, and then Speaker of the Florida Legislature.

The BRAD BLOG originally broke the news of Curtis' affidavit on December 6th.

Both the Feeney attorney letter from John P. Horan, and the YEI attorney letter from Michael A. O'Quinn refer to the charges by Curtis as having been "fully investigated by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics" and state identically that "The Commission found that 'there was no probable cause' to believe the assertions and dismissed each complaint."

In our response to the original letter from the Feeney attorney, we pointed out that 6 of the 8 members of that "State of Florida Commission on Ethics" were appointed by and/or had close ties to either Tom Feeney or Feeney's former running-mate for Florida governor, Jeb Bush.

As we mentioned, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported in a series of articles on the matter in 2002 that the commission's investigation --- in apparent violation of state law --- never interviewed the original investigator of the claims or the two key witnesses making the claims (Clint Curtis and Mavis Georgalis) before releasing their findings of "no probable cause".

Also in apparent violation of state law, the commission did not bother to examine public documents and email which seemed to directly contradict statements made by Feeney, who was reported to have been interviewed by the commission.

It must also be pointed out that the scope of the "Florida Commission on Ethics" investigation into the charges against Feeney did not even include the "vote-rigging" charges being alleged by Curtis and upon which The Chronicle's story reported.

It was, however, the virtually identical language in both letters that immediately caught our eye, strongly suggesting the direct coordination of this latest legal strategy between Feeney and YEI in a joint and concert effort to suppress reporting of the growing scandal.

Given the years-long tenure of Feeney as YEI's corporate attorney and his personal relationship to his old law partners at his old law firm who still represent YEI, such an attempt to work in concert between the two parties is not difficult to imagine.

That, despite Feeney's recent claims to MSNBC that "his only connection to Yang Enterprises was as an attorney prior to 2002."

As we've previously noted, the 2004 "Tom Feeney for Congress" campaign headquarters are located, even today, inside the YEI Building at 1420 Alafaya Trail, Oviedo, Florida 32765.

"Tom Feeney for Congress" is in Suite 103, according to his official campaign website. YEI's corporate address is in Suite 200, according to their website.

Here is a side-by-side look at the virtually identical language in each of the letters sent over the past week to The Seminole Chronicle by attorneys claiming to represent the two different clients...

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

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Article from Feeney's 'Other Hometown Weekly' to Hit Mailboxes This Week!
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2004 1:24pm PT  

The Local Weekly Wars down in Oviedo, Florida look to be heating up with the older of the town's two weekly papers, The Oviedo Voice, entering the Tom Feeney (R-FL)/Yang Enterprises, Inc./Clint Curtis "Vote-Rigging" fray last week after The Seminole Chronicle's coverage (discussed here, and again when Feeney's attorneys threatened legal action here) the week before.

The story of Curtis' affidavit stating that U.S. Congressman Feeney, of Oviedo, allegedly conspired to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" in October of 2000 was first reported by The BRAD BLOG in early December.

In a front page splash, The Voice promised readers in their Dec. 23 issue: "Charges against Feeney answered in next issue".

They also take a couple of shots in the bargain at both The BRAD BLOG and/or their cross-town competition at The Chronicle even while making at least one sizeable factual error in the four graf splash.

First the error; They describe a meeting they had in their offices with Christopher Bollyn, a reporter for American Free Press. Bollyn, in their article, is described as being "a contributing writer for 'The Brad Blog'".

While we spoke for the first time in our lives to Bollyn on Wednesday afternoon just last week --- several days after his meeting with The Voice, when he subsequently sent us some photographs taken during his investigation of issues related to this story in Florida (several of which we used with his permission in this blog item) --- we assure you that the royal "we" frequently used by The BRAD BLOG is but a quaint arcane literary affectation.

In other words, we, Brad Friedman, work alone and currently have no "contributing writers" on our staff --- of one --- other than ourselves...

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

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MSNBC's Prime-Time Star Continues to Fail To Get the Story Right.
Offers Some Explanation, But Ignores Most Troubling BRAD BLOG Charges.
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2004 4:38pm PT  

It's amazing how irresponsible some members of the so-called "Mainstream Media" can be. Even while they sniff at us lowly "bloggers" and "Internet-only news sites" for what many of them see as a lack of journalistic integrity, failing to provide proper context for stories and reporting information without properly vetting or confirming it first.

It's hard to argue with those criticisms towards many Internet blogs and news sites. But it's equally hard to stomach it when we've seen so many similar failings from the Mainstream Media themselves. And when they screw the pooch --- from their much larger media platforms --- the consequences can be much more disastrous.

Case in point, the now infamous failings of the New York Times' Judith Miller in her reporting running up to --- and arguably helping America towards --- the war in Iraq based on highly suspect or out and out misinformation. I don't wish to pile on there, but it's a case where the Mainstream Media failed to properly vet anonymous sources, give the appropriate context, and the results were, to say the least, somewhat disastrous for this country. That is just one such example, and an easy one to point to for context.

And then we have MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who, as we pointed out several days ago, ran a disastrously irresponsible piece on his MSNBC run "Bloggermann" site. So disastrous, in fact, that even a Countdown producer we spoke with about it refused to stand by the report above and beyond saying "This was Keith Olbermann's writing. He didn't work with me or anyone else on this."

As we reported, the most reprehensible failing in Olbermann's original quick hit piece on Clint Curtis (scroll down to item #4 at this link) was that he allowed an unnamed anonymous source, (described as "the attorney for the firm for whom Mr. Curtis worked") to suggest that Clint Curtis "has previously threatened the firm and its top officers, in writing, and that they were sufficiently concerned to file a police report as a result."

We pointed out in our reply to what amounted to little more than a smear piece by Olbermann that at the very least, since this anonymous attorney claimed there was a threat "in writing", that Olbermann should have reviewed that purported "writing" before passing on the information from an anonymous source. (By the way, that would have been at least the third response on these matters from either Yang Enterprises Inc. [YEI] or their Attorneys, but the first time they've bothered to mention a written threat and/or police report in re: Clint Curtis...make of that what you will).

Neither did Olbermann bother to even check with the Oveido Police Department --- where YEI is located --- to confirm if in fact such a report had been filed.

It probably now goes without saying, that Olbermann didn't bother to get comment from Curtis at all on any of the matters he reported on, though one would think that a responsible journalist would have at least attempted to do so before posting such scurrilous allegations.

Well today, Olbermann decided to comment again on his blog, to what he described as "a handful of e-mails" complaining about his coverage last week on this story. That comment is linked here (scroll down to the bulleted text).

Since I'm busy working on actual reporting of the rapidly moving events in this whole troubling story, I'll allow the bulk of his comments, sorry as they may be, to stand on their own. (See the red "Special Coverage" sidebar at right, for the key articles published by The BRAD BLOG on the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Inc. matter so far.)

But two items are very noteworthy, and I'd be remiss if I did not point them out. With vigor...

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

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