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Singer's suit is the fraud case which originally made waves when it was first filed two years ago, with the aid of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Florida attorney Mike Papantonio, until it then went "underground" due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...

Mr. Singer frequently accompanied Hart representatives to perform demonstrations, testing, and support maintenance of the machines in various locations, and thus heard firsthand a number of misstatements made by Hart in its attempts to win voting system contracts, as well as misstatements made to conceal the voting machines’ frailties and vulnerabilities. In January 2004, Mr. Singer resigned from Hart under protest, citing many of the fraudulent acts and misrepresentations giving rise to this action. In July 2004, Mr. Singer wrote the Secretaries of State for the States of Texas and Ohio, to alert them to Hart’s misconduct. He received no substantive response. Mr. Singer provided discrete bits of information to the press in hopes of attracting attention to Hart’s misconduct. Having “accomplished nothing” in Mr. Singer’s words, he decided to seek legal redress.

[FULL DISCLOSURE: We ("Brad Friedman of BradBlog") are named in the complaint as one of the sources to whom Singer disclosed some of his information.]

In March of 2006, The BRAD BLOG broke the exclusive story of the Hart InterCivic whistleblower's letters sent to the OH and TX Secretaries of State in 2004, before they were entirely ignored. Our coverage itself was also almost completely ignored by the media. The complaints Singer had sent at the time are posted in full with that original story on Singer's plight and his fruitless attempts to notify the two state chief election officials about his concerns, and of the criminal behavior that he alleges he was witness to.

In conversations we had with Bobby Kennedy, Jr., in the ensuing months after our initial report, we'd explained to him what Singer had done, and --- literally overnight --- he had set the attorneys at his firm, and that of his radio co-host, attorney Mike Papantonio's firm, to work on Singer's case. It was soon thereafter filed in federal district court, as we reported at the time, in July of 2006. It has been under seal for nearly two years since that time, waiting for the DoJ, which had asked for extension after extension, to determine whether it wished to join the suit or not.

This week, the DoJ finally declined to join the case, which may now move forward with the attorneys who originally brought the complaint, including Papantonio's firm, Kennedy's firm, and attorneys in Colorado where the case was filed.

As AP summarized the case, Singer "is alleging the company cheated the federal government by falsifying information about the accuracy and security of its voting system." He "alleges that Hart InterCivic lied to election officials around the country about the reliability of its voting system in an effort to obtain federal money allocated to the states under the Help America Vote Act of 2002."

A computer scientist who is familiar with most of America's e-voting systems recently told us that he has come to understand that, of all of the voting systems out there, ironically enough, Hart's systems, which have gotten far less attention in the media than those made by Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia over the years, may, in fact, "be the most insecure of them all" due to their particular architecture.

How Does the Case Proceed from Here?

An attorney close to the Singer case tells The BRAD BLOG today that "the fact that DoJ declined to join the case does not deter us for a moment."

At the time the complaint was filed, Papantonio was irate about the behavior of the voting industry officials which he had come to learn about through his discussions with Singer and others. "When you hear the details, when you hear the caliber of the fraud," he explained in a radio interview in the summer of 2006, "it'll make Americans feel like they're living in a damned banana republic, a third world country. I have never heard such outrageous facts."

"At the end of the day," Papantonio --- whose firm has successfully taken on giants like the Tobacco Industry in the past --- declared in the interview, "we're gonna shut down some of these companies...Some day these hacks are gonna be across the table from me, and they're gonna have to answer the questions that nobody else has been able to ask them."

Papantonio elucidated more of his concerns --- about voting machine company fraud and how it results in an assault on voting rights in America --- in an interview conducted by Joy and Tom Williams for The BRAD BLOG in August of 2006.

With all of that said, however, the attorney working on the case whom we spoke to today was quick to point out that there have been significant legal developments, most notably from the U.S. Supreme Court, which have occurred during the time since the case was filed, while the law firms had been waiting for a decision from the DoJ. The attorneys are currently reviewing those legal decisions to determine how they may or may not effect their plans for moving forward with the case from here, now that it has finally been unsealed.

Singer's Long-Ignored Song

We are still reviewing the full complaint ourselves, as mentioned. But, as Singer expressed to us today, his initial concerns when he wrote the Secretaries of State in Ohio and Texas in 2005 have not changed. If anything, they've continued to grow as more and more information has come out over the years as to the shortcuts that have been taken, the deceptive way in which the voting machine companies have profited without accountability off American tax dollars, and the secretive nature in which America's corporate, private voting machine companies have taken virtual complete control over our public democracy.

Singer expressed "deep regret that the situation with Hart InterCivic had to result in a lawsuit to try and bring about positive change. My attempts to resolve the situation in other ways, including complaints provided to the BradBlog in 2006, were simply unsuccessful. I have felt a personal duty to the public interest to make voters more aware of the issues facing them. The decision to make any part of elections, an issue of critical national concern, a for-profit industry is certainly a questionable choice. The decision to poorly supervise the companies involved is irrational, unreasonable, and unjustified, as my experience shows."

"If I, a single person, can report on so many problems, so many types of serious problems, in only one company...and if my complaints were being systematically ignored, deliberately ignored, by every single secretary of state and election official across the ENTIRE nation...If not one person of authority, of any kind, asked me one single question to help them make their own decisions about which voting machine vendor to do business with, I think any reasonable person would be extremely alarmed."

"How many other people, other problems, serious problems, have been concealed, 'lost', and ignored?," Singer wrote today. "If one person can report on so many serious problems, and those problems were deliberately hidden by so many officials for so long - how much of this iceberg is still under water? Not just with Hart, or even Hart and I, but in the entire industry?"

UPDATE 3/31/08: Hart InterCivic plays "Disgruntled Employee" card, but the facts, included in the complaint itself, reveal otherwise. Full details, docs here...

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