|Clinton "Clint" Curtis|
Clint Curtis in 2007
Clinton Eugene "Clint" Curtis (born 1958) is an American attorney, computer programmer and ex-employee of NASA and ExxonMobil. He worked for Yang Enterprises (YEI) until February 2001. He is notable chiefly for making a series of whistleblower allegations about his former employer and about Republican Congressman Tom Feeney, including an allegation that in 2000, Feeney and Yang Enterprises requested Curtis's assistance in a scheme to steal votes by inserting fraudulent code into touch screen voting systems.
In 2006, Curtis ran unsuccessfully against Feeney for the United States congressional seat in Florida's 24th congressional district. He ran again in 2008, losing in the Democratic primary to eventual winner of the seat, Suzanne Kosmas.
Initial allegations against Yang Enterprises and Tom Feeney
In 2001, Curtis first achieved public attention for a series of allegations against his former employer, Yang Enterprises, and against Tom Feeney, who was at that time serving as a Florida state legislator and as Yang's attorney and as Yang's lobbyist for local governments.
On May 10, 2001, shortly after leaving Yang and accepting a job with the Florida Department of Transportation, Curtis reported that Yang had overbilled the FDOT and hired an illegal alien. Approximately a year later, on April 1, 2002, Curtis and his supervisor were both fired, allegedly for violating FDOT policies. (Although Curtis's supervisor later settled a retailiation lawsuit brought relating to her firing, Curtis reports that he did not sue because he "missed the filing deadline.") During that same year, Curtis's accusations against Yang were the subject of a series of articles in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Yang Enterprises denied Curtis's allegations, and alleged that Curtis was a disgruntled former employee. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Curtis made his initial accusations against Yang one day after attorneys for Yang Enterprises questioned whether Curtis's employment with the FDOT violated a non-compete agreement and whether Curtis had taken a confidential computer program with him when he left Yang. According to the St. Petersburg Times, "Curtis said he would not have filed complaints about Yang if the company had not harassed him." Curtis denies that he stole any software from Yang Enterprises, and as of August 10, 2006, a lawsuit between Yang and Curtis was ongoing in Leon County, Florida.
Ultimately, Curtis' initial allegations led to mixed results:
- After investigation, the Florida Department of Transportation demanded that Yang repay $97,000 in "questionable charges," but was unable to conclude whether Yang had engaged in intentional misconduct, largely because of poor record keeping and Yang's refusal to permit the FDOT to audit Yang's files directly during the course of litigation.
- A Florida state investigation concluded that the employee Curtis accused of being an illegal alien was in fact in the country legally. However, as a result of an unrelated 1999 federal investigation, that employee pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of shipping anti-tank missile technology to China without proper records and received a fine of $100 and probation.
- Curtis's charges that then-state representative Tom Feeney improperly lobbied the Florida Department of Transportation on behalf of Yang, were considered, but ultimately rejected by the Florida State Commission on Ethics.
In September 2004, Curtis self-published Just A Fly On The Wall, a book critical of the George W. Bush administration, Yang Enterprises, and Tom Feeney. In the edition of that book published before the 2004 election, Curtis focused on his earlier accusations against Yang, as well as accusations that Feeney used his influence with the Florida State government to Yang's benefit.
Curtis specifically alleged that:
At the behest of Rep. Tom Feeney, in September 2000, he was asked to write a program for a touchscreen voting machine that would make it possible to change the results of an election undetectably. Curtis assumed initially that this effort was aimed at detecting Democratic fraud, but later learned that it was intended to benefit the Republican Party.
Curtis explained that the software could be used in any electronic tabulation machine or scanner. He spoke about this to the Conyers Voting Forum, after Conyers left the forum and turned over the dais on December 13, 2004.
Feeney's response to allegations
In 2005, Feeney responded to Curtis's allegations in a news article posted in the St. Petersburg Times. According to the newspaper, Feeney stated:
- that he had no recollection of ever meeting Curtis or of discussing vote fraud with anyone;
- that he could not have discussed a plan to commit fraud in touch screen voting machines in September or October 2000, as alleged by Curtis, because, "touch screen voting machines were not even contemplated until November 2000"; and
- that although Curtis accused Feeney of a wide variety of misconduct in his 2004 book, Just A Fly On The Wall, Curtis never mentioned the alleged vote fraud scheme.
On March 3, 2005, Curtis passed a polygraph test given by Tim Robinson, the retired chief polygraph operator and 20-year veteran of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The polygraph was paid for by Kevin Walsh, a private investigator from Washington, D.C., who told the St. Petersburg Times that he had been hired to prove election fraud. Walsh refused to identify the client. Curtis has stated that the test was based on all the allegations in the affidavit that was provided to Conyers' Voting Forum.
In 2006, Curtis ran a campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Tom Feeney, the former attorney for Yang Enterprises and the person who Curtis had accused, since 2004, of soliciting Curtis to assist in attempted vote fraud in the 2000 election.
Curtis won the Democratic primary.
Curtis's accusations that Feeney solicited him to commit vote fraud played a central role in the campaign, with Curtis challenging Feeney to take a polygraph test to prove that Feeney did not commit vote fraud and Feeney engaging in a campaign to trivialize Curtis, including a website that called Curtis "crazy" and featured photos of Curtis altered to include a tin-foil hat, and a controversial flier with Curtis's head superimposed on what appeared to be Hugh Hefner's body. Feeney refused to debate Curtis, arguing that any debate would be a "disservice" to voters.
On October 26, 2006, The Orlando Sentinel reported on the status of Curtis's race against Tom Feeney. According to the Sentinel, although both Curtis and Feeney had reported that their internal polling showed them to be leading in the polls, a Zogby poll showed the race to be extremely close, with Feeney leading Curtis by 45 percent to 43 percent, with a 5 percent margin of error.
The Sentinel reported that "local political observers" attributed the tight race to several factors, including:
- recent Feeney scandals such as his accepting an overseas golf trip from Jack Abramoff;
- the growing influence of non-party-aligned voters;
- Feeney's strategy of trivializing Curtis rather than confronting him directly; and
- general voter disenchantment with the Republican party.
Curtis lost the general election, garnering 42 percent to Feeney's 58 percent of the vote, or 89,863 votes to Feeney's 123,795.
On December 13, 2004, Wired News reported on Curtis's allegations. After repeating Curtis's allegations, summarized above, and Yang Enterprises' denial of those allegations, Wired concluded that "it remains to be seen if any new investigations can uncover the truth". In particular:
- Curtis originally stated that his employer, Yang Enterprises, specifically told him that he had been asked to develop code not to test voting security, but in order to commit vote fraud. "Her words were that it was needed to control the vote in West Palm Beach, Florida," Curtis said. "Once she said, 'We need to steal an election,' that put me back. I made it clear that I could not produce code that could do that and no one else should."
- "[Curtis] claims he did later tell the CIA, the FBI, an investigator for Florida's Department of Transportation (Raymond Lemme), and a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal about the voting issues when he gave them other information about Yang and Feeney. But so far this has not been corroborated. The FBI did not return calls for comment. The Department of Transportation investigator is dead" (Raymond Lemme was found dead. It was ruled a suicide. Curtis and Lemme's brother, among others, are convinced that it was murder).
- Wired also reported that "some details of Curtis' statements don't check out." For example, although Curtis originally stated that he was specifically informed that his code was to be used to falsify touch screen voting results in West Palm Beach in 2000 even though West Palm Beach did not use touch-screen voting machines at that time. Curtis responded that his code could have been used in other voting machines or in 2002.
- Adam Stubblefield, a computer science graduate student who wrote a paper about Diebold's voting machines, told Wired that Curtis's code would not have been used in any voting machine, even assuming fraud, because (1) Curtis did not have access to any original voting machine source code, and (2) the code that Curtis claims to have written was "so trivial" that it would be easier to write new code than to try to incorporate Curtis's code into the actual voting machine.
- Laura Zuckerman, a former reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, told Wired that she worked closely with Curtis in 2002 to write several stories regarding Curtis's various charges against Yang Enterprises at the time, but that Curtis never discussed any alleged conspiracy to commit vote fraud.
- However, Wired also noted that other accusations made by Curtis are "somewhat corroborated." For example, Wired was able to find a Florida Department of Transportation employee to support other charges made by Curtis against his former employer, Yang Enterprises, although most of those allegations have not led to formal charges. (Curtis alleges that Feeney has "squelched" the investigations). Wired also noted Curtis's willingness to make his allegations in an affidavit and his offer to take a polygraph test "is what makes some believe him".
Other media coverage
- On April 9, 2005, the St. Petersburg Times published an article about Curtis's charges and potential Senate campaign, including a confirmation that Curtis had taken and passed a polygraph test regarding his charges.
- On August 10, 2006, the Orlando Weekly published an article surveying Curtis's charges, Feeney and Yang's responses, and the surrounding publicity.
- The documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies chronicled Clint Curtis's story was released in 2008 and won a number of awards, including best documentary at the New Jersey Film Festival. Clint Curtis also appears in an interview in the documentary, Stealing America: Vote by Vote.
- Mckay, Rich (2006-11-08). "Keller turns back Stuart". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2006-11-08.[dead link]
- Morgan, Lucy (2005-05-09). "Blogs spin tale of computers, conspiracies". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
- Aaronson, Trevor (2005-02-10). "A whistle blower alleges that U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney might have rigged the election in South Florida". Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
- Billman, Jeffrey C (2006-08-10). "Is this Man Crazy?". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
- Zetter, Kim (2004-12-13). "More Questions for Florida". Wired News. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
- Bennett, George (2006-01-23). "Blogs spin tale of computers, conspiracies". Palm Beach Post. p. 1B.
- Curtis, Clint (2004). Just A Fly On The Wall. Clint Curtis Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9761959-0-0.
- "Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story". Votinglies.com. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- American Election Hacker Testifies, Hack247.co.uk
- "Porn Mag Used In Political Mailer Upsets Local Mother". WFTV.com. 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2006-11-01.
- Pérez, Robert (2006-10-07). "Feeney / House race turns zanier: Candidate's claims spark Internet spoof". Orlando Sentinel.
- Pérez, Robert (2006-10-26). "Curtis poll shows tight race with Feeney". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2006-11-01.
- "Unrestricted Warfare". Insider-magazine.com. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story (2008) at the Internet Movie Database