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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2008 9:09pm PT  

In the wake of my participation over the weekend, on a panel speaking to the question: "Have the media undermined our democracy?" at a Common Cause-sponsored conference on Media Reform in Pasadena (video from my remarks there now posted here), it seems that now would be as good a time as any to pop this killer video here. Enjoy...


(Hat-tip "Chris in Paris" at AMERICABlog)

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By John Gideon on 3/31/2008 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Statements from Hart Intercivic’s spokesman with regards to the filing of a whistleblower fraud suit seem to have now been debunked. Claims that William Singer was a “disgruntled” employee have now been dispelled. We hope to see this lawsuit continue and look forward to hearing more about what may very well be bad acts on the part of this vendor. ...

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

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Company Employee Performance Review, Included in Complaint Itself, Dispels Assertion Made by Company Spokesperson
Other Replies from Defendant Similarly Debunked by Documents Obtained by The BRAD BLOG...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2008 4:28pm PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

In a statement given to the media last week, in response to a federal fraud/false claims act qui tam suit finally unsealed last week, a representative from the defendant, voting machine company, Hart InterCivic, alleged the suit's whistleblower, William Singer, was a "disgruntled employee."

Employee "Performance Evaluation" records written by company management, included in the complaint itself, however, would seem to strongly contradict the claims of company spokesperson Pete Lichtenheld, as given to a reporter last week.

Additional claims by Lichtenheld, as reported by Kim Zetter at Wired's Threat Level blog on Thursday, are also dispelled by a document from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, obtained by The BRAD BLOG. The DoJ, after requesting and receiving extensions for two years, has finally decided against joining the federal qui tam suit, for the time being, allowing it to become unsealed last week, so that it may now move forward in federal district court.

The lawsuit, posted in full by The BRAD BLOG after it became unsealed last Thursday, details an extraordinary list of fraudulent behavior by Hart InterCivic, as related by one-time employee Singer, who alleges the company deceived Election Officials in Texas, Ohio, Colorado, and elsewhere in hopes of receiving federal monies as distributed via the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Allegations made in the suit include stunning revelations that Hart failed to test its products properly, and frequently at all, withheld information from prospective clients about the potential loss of votes in its voting systems, dummied-up machines, reports, and test results presented to clients in sales presentations, and much more in an attempt to win state and county contracts.

Much of the response to the suit by company spokesperson Lichtenheld, however, is easily dismissed upon examination of the evidence so far available in the case...

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

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By John Gideon on 3/30/2008 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Last weekend a diverse group of members of the Election Integrity community met in Palo Alto, CA. One of the group’s jobs was to write a mission statement. This statement became known to them as the “Creekside Declaration” and was recently memorialized by Chicago Tribune Columnist Robert Koehler, a participant in the meeting, in his column. The “Creekside Declaration” gives the mission of that small group, and I would argue all of us who work on elections integrity issues, as; “Mission: To encourage citizen ownership of transparent, participatory democracy.”

Back from New Orleans so today I will catch up on a few of the big stories that took place while I was gone and catch up with the latest.

Did you think that no one uses punch cards any longer? You were wrong. One of the last, Ada Co Idaho has decided to change over to optical-scan because their punch-card machines and tabulators are just getting too old....

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

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By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2008 1:48pm PT  

"Mission: To encourage citizen ownership
of transparent, participatory democracy."

- Creekside Declaration, 3/22/08

The statement is deceptively simple. Yet I think it best underscores all that we fight for here, and what we hope those who claim to be toiling for the same cause will measure themselves against.

I was privileged to spend last weekend with a dozen or so Election Integrity advocates and heroes of mine in Palo Alto, CA, at the Creekside Inn. Those in attendance had experience in election administration, data analysis, media watchdogging, voting rights activism, voter advocacy, computer programming and security, boots-on-the-ground oversight, election auditing, and even voting system vendor perspective. We stayed, after viewing the near-final cut of Dorothy Fadiman's soon-to-be-released Stealing America: Vote by Vote on Thursday night, to chat, strategize, and otherwise spend some time in person with a few of the folks we so often spend only virtual time with.

The declaration was created as several of us determined it would be helpful to define the cause as specifically and directly as possible. Once it was finalized, I signed it first, in large letters, as the Hancock legend goes, "so that King George can read it without his glasses."

My hope is that anyone --- any person or organization, or even candidate for office, claiming to be in the fight for clean, fair, honest, accurate democracy --- would both commit to this simply stated mission, and then measure his or her efforts against it.

Will People for the American Way, Common Cause, Verified Voting, and Rep. Rush Holt sign on to the mission stated above? If so, does advocating for touch-screen voting systems with so-called "paper trails" encourage citizen ownership of transparent, participatory democracy? Does vote-by-mail?

Will our current crop of Presidential candidates, D and R and anything else, pledge to support the mission inherent in the Creekside Declaration? If so, will they then stand up for a paper ballot --- one that is actually counted --- for every vote cast in America?

The BRAD BLOG pledges to adhere, and fight for, the values contained in the Creekside Declaration. Will your Election Integrity group do so? I hope you will ask them, and yourselves. And if so, I hope you'll state as much publicly, and will then proceed to test all that you do, and fight for, and stand for, against the simple, yet monumentally important, ideas in that declaration.

Tribune Media Columnist Bob Koehler, who joined us over the weekend, is one of the few voices within the corporate mainstream media who seem to truly understand what's at stake, the price it may take to ensure it, and the cost of not doing so. He has more in his column this week, on both the weekend, the declaration, and the ideals that I believe we are all duty-bound, as Americans --- and even as World Citizens --- to pledge to fight for.

His column begins this way:

The ground feels a little soft, but we’re going to stand it.

Premise one: Having a fair election — all votes counted, all who are eligible and want to vote allowed to vote — is far, far more important, even in 2008, than who wins.

Premise two: Fair elections are not a given. They never have been, but things are worse now than ever before because of a perfect storm, you might say, of factors that have converged in the new millennium: officialdom’s seduction by unsafe, high-tech voting systems; the seizure of power by a party of ruthless true believers who feel entitled to rule and will do anything to win; a polite, confused opposition party that won’t make a stink about raw injustice; and an arrogantly complacent media embedded in the political and economic status quo.

The result: Benjamin Franklin’s worst nightmare.

I hope you'll read the rest...

Folks in photo identified here...

Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!
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I'll be Speaking at Their Media Reform Summit in Pasadena Saturday...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2008 5:01pm PT  

It should be an interesting afternoon. I'll be speaking on a panel titled "Have the media undermined our democracy?" tomorrow (Saturday) at CA Common Cause's "L.A. Media Reform Summit" in Pasadena.

If you can't make it, here's my written testimony in response to the panel's topic: YES!!!!!

If you're in the SoCal 'hood and can make it, please come on by and say hello! The panel I'm on (with Democratic Congresswoman Hilda Solis, National Hispanic Media Coalition organizer Alex Nogales, USC journalism professor Jonathan Taplin, and Pasadena Weekly Editor Kevin Uhrich) begins at 1:45pm, but the opening salvo comes at 1pm from FCC commish Jonathan Adelstein. There some other interesting folks speaking throughout the day as well, including our good friend and great patriot, Bree Walker.

Joe Piasaki at Pasadena Weekly has good advanced coverage with the latest guest list.

More info, sign-up details, and a slightly outdated Guest List can be read here. The event is at: California Institute Of Technology, Beckman Institute, 400 S. Wilson, Pasadena, CA.

Post-Conference Update: I think the conference went very well, in many regards. Will try to get some video up shortly so you can decide for yourself...

Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!
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And BRAD BLOG Requests your Help...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2008 10:15am PT  

Meanwhile, over at tech 'zine InfoWorld, Robert X. Cringely takes notice of BRAD BLOG's exposé from earlier this week, on the man Sequoia Voting Systems is paying to "independently" review their failed AVC Advantage touch-screen machines (the ones that failed in NJ recently, but which are still set for use in the upcoming, crucial PA primary). He was as amused/horrified at whom they'd hired, instead of the actually qualified computer science professors at Princeton University whom Sequoia had threatened with legal action, should they dare a real examination of the company's faulty machines.

Cringely sums up our report succinctly this way...

While I was digging through the Net looking for the skinny on Sequoia Voting Systems and its mystery contractor Kwaidan Consulting (aka Mike Gibbons), the Bradblog's Brad Friedman was doing the same. He managed to unearth a cached version of Gibbons' MySpace page that's just a wee bit different than the current model. Instead of a photo of Gibbons shaking hands with Bush I, this one shows a good-old-boy leaning against the hood of a pickup. The list of people Gibbons wants to meet has changed too. Instead of Jesus, Einstein, and Newton, Gibbons was looking for “a well endowed blonde nymphomaniac ... that likes to be under the influence of Jim Beam whiskey in a dimly lit room at least 3 times a week.” (Hmm, Jesus or a busty nymphomaniac – that's a tough call.) It's nice to know the gatekeepers of our electoral system go shopping for their code experts in New Orleans bordellos.

One small thought in response to the good Cringely here. Sequoia are not the "gate-keepers," they just think they are, and therein lie the problems. He, we, and you are the gate-keepers. And until now, we've failed horribly to keep the crooks and liars --- like the folks at Sequoia and Diebold and ES&S and Hart InterCivic (take a look at that report please Robert, and the stunning complaint downloadable with it!) --- outside of those gates.

By the way, with the crush of other news elsewhere, and even at The BRAD BLOG this week, our rather jaw-dropping report on Gibbons (even if we say so ourselves) was largely overlooked out there by the CMSM and even the blogosphere. These stories --- the embarrassing Gibbons/Kwaidan report, the remarkable federal fraud case against Hart, and all the others here --- don't spread themselves around. Please do not misunderestimate the importance of your DIGGING, REDDIT-ing, and otherwise emailing and linking up to these stories far and wide. Notifying your local media about them (include the URL when you email them), can make all the difference.

We're doing our part, and appreciate whatever hand you can lend in return. It matters.

As we often say, this democracy ain't gonna save itself. And the gates ain't gonna keep themselves, either.

Please support The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive and our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available for new contributors!
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By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2008 4:45pm PT  

Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman, at the center of an alleged conspiracy to take him down --- a conspiracy with an extraordinary body of bi-partisan evidence to support it, and Karl Rove's direct involvement in it --- has finally been released from jail pending appeal.

We're on a few other beats for the moment, so for the latest, we'll refer you to RAW STORY's coverage, where Larisa Alexandrovna has done a great deal of heavy lifting on this story over the past several months.

Our own numerous stories on this woeful tale, including an occasional exclusive or two --- and some still grossly-undercovered aspects of Siegelman's story, such as the electronic election fraud he alleges was employed by state Republicans to unseat him --- can be read here.

UPDATE: Dan Abrams' coverage of Siegelman's pending release below...


(Hat-tip for the heads up to The BRAD BLOG's Alan Breslauer, with balls the size of Alabama, as seen in the photo at top-left.)

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After Two Years, the Qui Tam Suit Against Hart InterCivic, Brought by Whistleblower William Singer with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio, May Proceed After DoJ Declines to Join Case
Download the Full Complaint here...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2008 2:50pm PT  

"The most serious thing any software company can do is not fully test its products," William Singer told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon about the federal fraud case he filed nearly two years ago, which has finally been unsealed by a judge as of today.

"To release a product for important purposes that has not been tested at all is quite shocking, I would say. Especially since it indicates that nobody can predict what, when, or how it might fail," Singer explained about the e-voting systems made by Hart InterCivic, for which he worked as a technician several years ago. "It would make a mockery of any certification."

Despite having some direct involvement in the case from the beginning, The BRAD BLOG has been unable to report any details on it for going on two years --- we haven't even been able to offer the names of the plaintiff or defendant in the case --- since originally reporting that it had been filed in federal court, due to the fact that it was under seal, waiting for the U.S. Attorney General to decide whether the DoJ would join the suit or not.

Singer's suit is the fraud case which originally made waves when it was first filed two years ago, with the aid of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Florida attorney Mike Papantonio, until it then went "underground" due to the legally mandated seal disallowing the plaintiff and his attorneys from offering any specific details to the public.

As AP reported today, the seal on that federal qui tam (fraud, false claims) complaint, brought on behalf of the United States by Singer against Hart, one of the big four American voting machines companies, has now been lifted, and the case may finally proceed as originally filed.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained the complete complaint and the judge's order lifting the seal...

• The full complaint may be downloaded here [PDF, 45 pages].
• The judge's order unsealing the case as of last night is here [PDF, 2 pages]

The second page of the complaint, which we are still plowing through, sets the initial grounding for the case...

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

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When 'Academic Studies' are Needed in Support of Bush Administration/Republican Political Positions, the University of Missouri Professor Comes Through Time and Again...
By Tom Klammer on 3/27/2008 9:12am PT  

Guest blogged by Tom Klammer...

"[T]he role of advocate is, no matter what kind of information comes out, to sort of disparage it, and, you know, they’re fighting for a result, not the truth. And they already think they know the truth..."

That’s what Professor Jeffrey Milyo told me near the end of a radio interview (MP3, 24 mins) I did with him in February. It was something of a parting shot he left for critics of a study he conducted for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on media cross-ownership, but it strikes me that he could have been describing himself.

Milyo is the University of Missouri professor featured in a BRAD BLOG article by Howard Beale earlier this month. The blog featured an enlightening exchange between Milyo and Senator Chuck Schumer during Milyo’s testimony before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Rules and Administration at a hearing to discuss whether photo ID voting laws lead to voter disenfranchisement. As Beale noted, Milyo’s study purported to show that restrictive photo ID voting laws had no adverse effect on voter turnout in 2006 elections in Indiana. Schumer apparently thought it might be instructive to know who commissioned and paid for the study. Milyo said he had received a grant, but hemmed and hawed and couldn’t seem to remember from whom it came.

As it turned out, Milyo's grant money for his study came from an organization created by Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, the former Bush/Cheney '04 national general counsel, and one of the Republican Party's top operatives behind pushing for such photo ID laws around the country. Hearne was, in fact, instrumental in creating the very Indiana law which Milyo's study claims to show, has caused no voter disenfranchisement in the state.

When I interviewed Milyo last February, it was about a different study he had done, this one about cross ownership of television stations and newspapers in the same markets. The findings of this Milyo study were just as dubious, just as friendly to the Bush Administration's political objectives, and just as fortuitously timed...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2008 6:06pm PT  

Remember when an 18½ minute gap in an audio tape was enough to bring down a President? Those were the days.

But that was then, this is now...

WASHINGTON — Older White House computer hard drives have been destroyed, the White House disclosed to a federal court Friday in a controversy over millions of possibly missing e-mails from 2003 to 2005.

The White House revealed new information about how it handles its computers in an effort to persuade a federal magistrate it would be fruitless to undertake an e-mail recovery plan that the court proposed.

"When workstations are at the end of their lifecycle and retired ... the hard drives are generally sent offsite to another government entity for physical destruction," the White House said in a sworn declaration filed with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.

It has been the goal of a White House Office of Administration "refresh program" to replace one-third of its workstations every year in the Executive Office of the President, according to the declaration.

Some, but not necessarily all, of the data on old hard drives is moved to new computer hard drives, the declaration added.

We suspect this may call for some more sternly worded letters from Democrats!

Or, if they really want to go whole hog, they can follow in the courageous steps of Walter Mondale on Monday, who offered "blistering" comments about how Bush and Cheney have broken the law...followed by his explanation as to why they shouldn't be impeached for having done so.

(Hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter "Karen")

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On Air in L.A. and Santa Barbara, on the Internet Around the World...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2008 11:12am PT  

[Updated post-show]

The good folks at L.A.'s Pacifica Radio affiliate, KPFK 90.7 FM, have asked me to drop in today from 2p-3p PT to host a "Special Hour of Election Year Coverage."

As you may have guessed, we'll be looking less at the "horse race" and much more at the "track conditions" today. We'll also be giving away a few DVD's of Uncounted to callers, chatting with a few special guests if we have time, and taking your calls and questions --- hopefully lots of 'em --- at: 818-985-5735.

I don't know that I'll have Internet access in the studio, but you can use this item as an Open Thread to talk about me behind my back during the show if you wish.

Tune in live from 2p-3p PT (5p-6p ET) on air in Los Angeles at 90.7 FM, in Santa Barbara at 98.7 FM, or listen live online right here.


Post-Show Update: It was a jam-packed, fast-paced hour! Featuring the latest on the dopes at Sequoia Voting Systems, a quick interview with Matthew Segal of Student Assoc. of Voter Empowerment (SAVE), call-ins from the "Diebold Document Whistleblower" Steve Heller, Tom Courbat of Riverside County, CA, and SAVE R VOTE, L.A. County's Judy Alter of Protect California Ballots, and tons of calls from listeners. Great fun. Thanks to the folks at KPFK. Hope they'll have me back in the future.

Show archive: You can download the MP3 (appx. 55 mins), or listen online here...

Please support The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive and our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available for new contributors!
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Meet Mike Gibbons of 'Kwaidan Consulting': Seeking 'Well Endowed Blonde Nymphomaniacs'...Or 'Jesus Christ, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein,' Depending on Whose Paying...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2008 8:02pm PT  

Last week, in the wake of their AVC Advantage touch-screen voting systems having been found to have failed in at least six counties following New Jersey's Super Tuesday Primary, and on the heels of much-deserved ridicule for having threatened Princeton computer scientists with legal action should they go forward with an independent technical review of their voting systems, as requested by NJ election officials, Sequoia Voting systems issued a laughable press release headlined "Sequoia Voting Systems supports third party reviews and testing of its election equipment," which John Gideon appropriately eviscerated for all of the (putting it nicely) "misleading half-truths" therein from the dishonest, desperate folks at Sequoia.

The company, which claims their oft-hacked votings systems (accidental hack here, on purpose hack here) are secure and "tamperproof", subsequently saw their own website ignominiously hacked thereafter late last week.

But, as if the constant predilections of Sequoia VPs Michelle Shafer and Edwin Smith to slap "kick me" signs on their own backs wasn't enough, they then went on to release another statement last Thursday announcing they were commissioning their own "external review" of their own voting systems "that includes review by an independent company," which nobody has ever heard of.

So who is this "Kwaidan Consulting of Houston, Texas," whom the geniuses at Sequoia have selected to carry out their independent, third-party review? You're not gonna be believe this one...

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

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By John Gideon on 3/25/2008 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today attorneys for the state of New Jersey were asked, in court, whether the state had a confidentiality agreement with Sequoia. The attorneys admitted that they were not sure. Judge Linda Feinberg then ordered that testing of the voting machines move ahead. Sequoia’s media person is on vacation so she was not able to respond to media questions. There will be more details on this story as agreements are made but Sequoia does not now appear to be in a position to dictate what will happen.

DVN will be on hiatus until Saturday evening. I am going to take a few days and enjoy New Orleans....

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

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Checking 'Paper Trail' Receipts Against Touch-Screen Numbers, However, May Offer Deceptive Findings
ALSO: Random Audit Must Actually be Random This Time...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2008 12:35pm PT  

Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is planning "a first-of-its-kind audit of votes from the March 4 presidential primaries, saying the outcome should help ensure the integrity of future elections," according to a report this morning from the Columbus Dispatch.

"Brunner is calling on 11 counties to volunteer for the audit, in which at least 7 percent of the votes cast in each county would be rechecked by hand," the paper reports.

That's good. But there are a couple of points that we hope she is well aware of, since such post-election audits can offer a deceptive result in a number of cases...especially on touch-screen machines...and especially in Ohio...

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

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