Congressman Tom Feeney's (R-FL) attorneys have sent a letter threatening the editors of Florida's Seminole Chronicle intimating possible legal action in light of the news report filed by Editor Alex Babcock last week concerning allegations made in a sworn affidavit [PDF] and in sworn public testimony before members of the U.S. House Judiciary committee by software programmer Clint Curtis.
The story of Curtis' allegations and affidavit was originally reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago. Curtis has alleged, among other things, that Feeney conspired, in an October 2000 meeting, to have a "vote-rigging software prototype" built by Yang Enterprises, Inc. --- a company for which Feeney at the time served as corporate counsel and registered lobbyist even while he concurrently served as Legislator, and eventually Speaker of the Florida House. Feeney was the running mate to Jeb Bush during his first failed bid for Governor of Florida, and is now a U.S. Congressman from Florida's newly created 24th Congressional District. He also now sits on the U.S. House's Judiciary Committee.
The letter from John P. Horan of "Foley and Lardner, attorneys at law", was faxed to Babcock at the Seminole Chronicle office earlier this week. It alleges the newspaper's report "constitute[d] a serious departure from accepted journalism standards and a breach of the Chronicle's fair reporting privilege."
Horan goes on to accuse Babcock of reporting "in a sensational, reckless and unfair manner," and claims that "This conduct exceeds all known bounds of bias and constitutes a reckless disregard for the truth."
According to the letter, Horan's charges on behalf of Feeney, stem from his claim that "These assertions were fully investigated by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics which found that 'there was no probable cause' to believe the assertions and dismissed each complaint."
However, BRAD BLOG research into those ethics charges filed against Feeney, and their supposed "investigation", has revealed that the commission referred to, and the investigation itself, appear to have had serious flaws and conflicts of interest involved. Many of which were reported at the time of the commission's findings by a number of Florida newspapers.
For a start, six of the eight members of the "Commission on Ethics" which Horan's letter refers to, were appointed to the commission by and/or have direct ties to either Tom Feeney or his old running-mate and then Governor, Jeb Bush!
On October 17, 2002, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on the "Commission on Ethics" findings that Horan uses as the only basis for criticism of the Seminole Chronicle's article.
The News-Journal reported on those findings by revealing that neither the investigator looking into the ethics complaint nor the two key witnesses in the case were ever even interviewed by the commission! Despite a state law that requires them to do so!
As well, public documents in the case --- including Email which directly contradicted statements made by Feeney to the commission during the "investigation" --- were similarly never investigated, also in apparent violation of state law, according to the paper.
From just one of several articles on this from the Daytona Beach News-Journal...