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...

Feeney Attorney Letter:
"We have been asked by our client to review the article written by you and published by the Seminole Chronicle on December 17, 2004 concerning Congressman Tom Feeney. The factual assertions of Mr. Curtis that you have repeated and published in your paper are obviously false and defamatory."

YEI Attorney Letter:
"We have been asked by YEI to review the article written by you and published by the Seminole Chronicle on or about December 16, 2004 concerning allegations made by Mr. Clint Curtis regarding YEI, among others. The factual assertions made by Mr. Curtis that are contained in the above-referenced article are false and defamatory."

Feeney Attorney Letter:
"In publishing these assertions, the Chronicle has failed to meet fair reporting standards. If the Chronicle had performed responsible background research it would have learned that..."

YEI Attorney Letter:
"In publishing these assertions, you and the Seminole Chronicle have failed to meet fair reporting standards. If you and the Seminole Chronicle had performed responsible background research, it would have become obvious that..."

Feeney Attorney Letter:
"Mr. Curtis, on two separate occasions in the past, has made assertions against Congressman Feeney which arose out of transactions and occurrences during Mr. Curtis' tenure at Yang Enterprises. 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."

YEI Attorney Letter:
"Further, as you knew or should have known long before the article was published, many of Mr. Curtis' assertions were fully investigated by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics. The Commission found that 'there was no probable cause' to believe the assertions and dismissed each complaint."

Feeney Attorney Letter:
"The Chronicle's failure to report the dismissal by the Ethics Commission of charges based on previous assertions made by Mr. Curtis, when coupled with the obvious outrageous nature of the assertions and the sensational headline, constitute a serious departure from accepted journalism standards and a breach of the Chronicle's fair reporting privilege. It is apparent that your intent was to report outrageous assertions about Congressman Feeney which a responsible newsperson should have known had little probable veracity and to do so in a sensational, reckless and unfair manner. This conduct exceeds all known bounds of bias and constitutes a reckless disregard for the truth."

YEI Attorney Letter:
"The Chronicle's abject failure to professionally investigate the assertions of Mr. Curtis constitute a serious departure from accepted journalistic standards and a breach of the Chronicle's fair reporting obligation. It is apparent that your intent was to report outrageous assertions about YEI and others; a responsible newsperson would or should have known that these assertions had little probable veracity. For you and the Seminole Chronicle to publish the assertions and to do so in a sensational, reckless and unfair manner constitutes conduct that exceeds all known bounds of bias and, further, constitutes a reckless disregard for the truth."

Feeney Attorney Letter:
"We are continuing to review this matter with our client and invite you to advise us promptly as to how you intend to rectify your wrongful conduct and mitigate the damages resulting from that conduct."

YEI Attorney Letter:
"We hereby advise you and the Seminole Chronicle that it is the intention of YEI to pursue all available legal remedies against you and the Seminole Chronicle in order to rehabilitate the damage caused by you and the Seminole Chronicle as the result of this sloppily researched and disingenuous article."

The letter from the YEI attorney, O'Quinn, states a new charge, previously unmentioned in any of the several public statements by either YEI or O'Quinn. They are now charging that "at least one of Mr. Curtis's former employers has stated under oath that Mr. Curtis is a pathological liar."

O'Quinn did not give any specifics on whom those "employers" were, what specifics the charges related to, nor did he provide The Seminole Chronicle with any additional evidence to support that charge. We will, however, try to attain that information, and investigate it.

As we've noted in an earlier report, an "unnamed attorney", said to have been representing YEI, recently told MSNBC that "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."

MSNBC did not bother to review that supposed written threat, nor confirm that statement with Oviedo Police before passing it on via it's website. To date, after a week of searching, the Public Information Office of the Oviedo Police has been unable to confirm any such report from YEI.

Clint Curtis told The BRAD BLOG, in an interview after that claim was published, that he was unaware of any report made to the police about any such "threats" related to this matter. We will continue to investigate that claim as well, and report if we are able to find any substantion for the claims made by the anonymous attorney as reported by MSNBC.

O'Quinn's paralegal, Rebecca Saylor, refused to give any comment on the matter in a phone call this morning, stating several times to us on a number of questions related to these matters, "I have no information to give without [O'Quinn's] approval."

We will continue our attempts to get information directly from O'Quinn on this matter once he returns after January 3rd from his Bahama vacation.

We will also post original scans of both letters on this website once we are given permission to do so by the publishers of The Seminole Chronicle.

To date, no such legal actions related to these charges are reported to have been threatened against Clint Curtis himself. Only the newspaper which dared to report on the charges have so far been thus threatened.

DEVELOPING...