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...

TALLAHASSEE --- Despite repeated claims that he never used his influence to benefit his client, House Speaker Tom Feeney arranged at least one meeting between state officials and an Oviedo computer firm that was having trouble with its state contract.

E-mails obtained by The Daytona Beach News-Journal through the state's public records law contradict statements made by the Oviedo Republican to the state Ethics Commission, which cleared him of ethical missteps surrounding his ties to his client, Yang Enterprises.
Feeney, who doubles as Yang's general counsel and lobbyist in Orange County, told ethics investigators that he had not spoken to "anyone at FDOT or the State Technology Office concerning the Yangs."

But the e-mails show Feeney, then incoming House speaker, arranged a meeting in Oviedo in July 2000 between his client and Roy Cales, head of the State Technology Office and the official with the most say over state computer contracts.
Feeney sponsored an earlier meeting for Yang in Tallahassee with Cales, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Barry and Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, records show.

After the Oviedo meeting, Yang wrote to DOT officials to say it was very successful. Cales later wrote Feeney, "I am most interested in pursuing additional conversations with them (the Yangs) to determine the most effective way to utilize their expertise."

Sylvester Lukis, a spokesman for Yang, at first denied in an interview Friday that Feeney arranged any meetings for Yang owners Tyng-Lin Yang and Li-Woan Yang with state officials. But later, when told about the e-mails, he confirmed Feeney had set them up.

"Apparently Mr. Feeney did arrange some meetings with Mr. Cales, but it had nothing to do with the (DOT) contract," he said. "I'm not going to comment on Mr. Feeney and whether he did anything wrong."

Lukis said the Yangs were innocent of any misdeeds, describing them as "hard-working people" who have been unfairly caught in the political crossfire.
Feeney denied helping Yang, even after the firm was accused of submitting fraudulent invoices in its contract with DOT to provide software.

DOT is still investigating those claims, which were made by two state workers who have since been fired.

{ed. Note: The "two state workers" were Clint Curtis and Mavis Georgalis. The DOT investigator on the case, Raymond Lemme, died in what some have described as a "suspicious suicide" in July of 2003. The BRAD BLOG has been researching that matter and hopes to publish more information about it in a future article.}

Feeney continued to be copied on correspondence in the dispute long after he said he advised the Yangs to hire a Tallahassee lobbying firm to handle the matter, records show.

And a worker in Feeney's law office called state officials demanding that a letter praising Yang be signed --- despite the ongoing contract dispute --- by Cales and a DOT official and faxed to Feeney without delay.
...Feeney points to the decision by the state Ethics Commission as evidence he did nothing wrong...

YEI would eventually receive an eight-year $8 million contract with FDOT to develop their "Electronic Document Management System".

The article also refers to Feeney's Democratic challenger, Harry Jacobs, as having pointed to the questionable Feeney/YEI relationship during the 2002 race for the newly created 24th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jacobs aired a television spot at the time on the matter, video from which --- along with coverage of the controversy about it and an interview with YEI CEO Li-Woan Yang --- can be seen online in this 2002 report from Orlando's NBC news affiliate WESH.

Several sources have told The BRAD BLOG that at the time of the airing of Jacob's commercial, YEI released all of it's workers for the day so that they could picket Jacob's campaign headquarters. We have not yet been able to corroborate that report with either YEI or the Jacob's campaign, but will continue to attempt to do so in the future.

Prior to the The News-Journal article quoted above, they offered a rather extensive report on June 9, 2002 into the charges being made by Curtis and Georgalis against Feeney, YEI, FDOT and others. We've now also been able to find that article via Archives.org and point you to it above.

That rather extensive report documented many detailed aspects of a number of Curtis' claims in this matter at the time, and several of Feeney's questionable relationships with both YEI, FDOT and the investigators looking into the related charges.

For his part, Feeney found it necessary to respond to that article in a Letter to the Editor of The Informed Volusian which was published three days later.

We hope to offer a more detailed report on information from both of those articles in the near future.


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