COMPUTER FRAUD ARTICLE 27
Feeney implicated in vote fraud
Congressman sought to alter totals, testimony in Ohio case says
By Alex Babcock
December 16, 2004
Republican Congressman Tom Feeney of Oviedo asked a computer programmer in September 2000, prior to that year's contested presidential vote in Florida , to write software that could alter vote totals on touch-screen voting machines, the programmer said.
Former computer programmer Clint Curtis made the claim Monday in sworn testimony to Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee investigating allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 presidential election involving touch-screen voting in Ohio .
In his testimony, Curtis said that Feeney, then a member of the Florida House of Representative, met with Curtis and other employees of Yang Enterprises, an Oviedo software company, and asked if the company could create a program that would allow a user to alter the vote totals while using the touch-screen machine. The program had to be written so that even the human-readable computer code would not show its illicit capabilities, Curtis recalled.
Curtis said he wrote a prototype program for Feeney, and that he believed the program might not only be usable on touch-screen voting machines, which some counties - predominantly in South Florida - now use, but also on optical-scan machines, which most of the state's counties used in the 2004 elections.
Feeney could not be reached for comment.
Michael O'Quinn, an attorney for Yang Enterprises, said Curtis' claims are outrageous and that Feeney never discussed such a program with the company. He said Feeney's only relationship with the company was as its legal counsel. Feeney worked at the law firm with O'Quinn until 2002, when he resigned after being elected to Congress.
"I immediately assumed that he was trying to keep you guys from cheating," Curtis told Democrats at the hearing Monday. Curtis further said that Li Woan Yang, a co-owner of the company, told him that, "We need to hide the fraud in the source code, not reveal the fraud, because it's needed to control the vote in South Florida ."
Curtis, who formerly lived in Oviedo , quit the software company in December 2000, after the November 2000 election that preceded Feeney rise to become speaker of the Florida House.
"I left because all of the meetings with Feeney let me know I wasn't in a situation I wanted to be in," he said in an interview with the Chronicle. "He's in there selling contracts, telling us how to bid them, special little formulas being employed, how you get right point structure. They were going to limit how many vendors could apply to government contracts so only connected vendors could get on the approved list."
O'Quinn confirmed that Curtis resigned, but said he told the company he got a job in another state. Curtis ended up working for the Florida Department of Transportation. O'Quinn also disputed the allegation that Feeney helped work on government bids, saying Feeney was careful to avoid such work because of ethics rules. Feeney "played no role whatsoever" in helping Yang secure government contracts, O'Quinn said. The company currently does work for NASA, the state Department of Transportation and other companies.
Yang Enterprises, in a statement released to the public, said Curtis' allegations are "categorically untrue."
Democrats and independent groups are challenging presidential election results in Ohio , and have claimed that irregularities in some precinct results might have been caused by tampering with electronic voting machines.
Curtis said he has been trying to get attention drawn to his claims since shortly after leaving Yang Enterprises, but has had difficulty until this year. After watching a news report about voting machines in Florida being installed at precincts without having their software inspected, he said he redoubled his effort to get public attention.
"People finally care," Curtis told the Chronicle. "Coming forward isn't the problem, it's people caring."
The Democrats are listening, as is a non-partisan government watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington . The group, which began working with Curtis in early December, is working to verify elements of his story.
Curtis says he is also working with the FBI to investigate another claim he has made against Yang, that the company is spying on NASA. In its response, the company said that the man named by Curtis as the recipient of NASA-related information has never worked for the company.
The company also says Curtis' claims are based on a grudge he has with the company. O'Quinn said he's also being motivated by money.
The Justice Through Music Project, a nonprofit organization that engages young people about political issues, has offered $200,000 for proof of election fraud in 2004.
Curtis said he has not pursued that money, which has not been offered to him.
- STAFF WRITER MICHELLE YOFFEE-BEARD CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.