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Programmer who alleged plot to steal Florida election runs for Congress

Carlos Miller
Published: Friday March 24, 2006

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To Republicans, Clint Curtis is a traitor; a back-stabbing liar with an imagination that rivaled Jack Abramoff's influence over Congress.

To liberal Democrats, Curtis is a hero; a stand up guy who blew the whistle on computer voting fraud, testifying before a group of U.S. House Committee Judiciary Democrats after the 2004 presidential election.

And to the man himself, the Republican-turned-Democrat is nothing but a computer geek who purports to have found himself smack in the middle of a brazen political plot to tamper with elections in Florida, where fact can be stranger than fiction and politics as shady as swampy underbrush.

After all, since the software programmer accused Florida Congressman Tom Feeney of asking him to create a computer program to steal an election, the plot has unraveled quirkier than a Carl Hiaasen novel.

So far, a state investigator who had been looking into a contract held by Curtis' former employer was found dead in a cheap motel room and an illegal Chinese immigrant, a colleague of Curtis' who worked for a close friend of Feeney's, was allowed to remain in the United States and received a $200 fine for passing sophisticated missile technology to China.

It's no wonder why Curtis keeps a loaded AK-47 behind his door.

"When I first began reporting on espionage and Feeney's corruption, I received death threats," he asserts.

Now Curtis is preparing to square off against Feeney for the state's 24th Congressional District this November, a solidly conservative area in central Florida carved out by Feeney himself.

But before taking on Feeney, he needs to beat fellow Democrat Andy Michaud, a lifelong Democrat.

"Even Republicans know Feeney is a crook and they'd be glad to get rid of him," Curtis said. "I just have to persuade Democrats that I am Democratic enough."

Curtis says his main campaign issue is eliminating election fraud.

"This is not a partisan issue," he said. "I noticed recently in Texas there was a Republican that got some wild results in his primary. The Republicans can't run unless the people that control the machines want them to run."

In the Texas case, Republican Steve Smith is preparing a challenge after losing in the state's Supreme Court Justice primary election earlier this month. In Winkler County, Texas, where Smith respectively received 74 percent and 65 percent of the votes in the 2002 and 2004 elections, he received zero votes in the recent primary.

And in Smith's home county, Tarrant, where he outperformed statewide results by 13 percent in 2004, he underperformed statewide results by 23 percent earlier this month.

Smiths' opponent, Don Willet, has close ties to President Bush. Willet served as a special assistant to the president in Bush's quest for faith-based initiatives.

These bizarre results don't surprise voting rights activists, who have been crying foul over computer voting fraud since the 2004 presidential election, when some counties in Ohio cast more votes for Bush than there were registered voters.

But the fact that Clint Curtis (ClintCurtis.com) is one of the only politicians in the country addressing the issue of computer voting fraud is winning him support from outside his district as well as from other states.

Karyn Altman, a freelance writer and hospitality marketing professional in Miami, is one of a small, but dedicated team of volunteers throughout the country working to get Curtis on the ballot. Other volunteers are in New Jersey and California.

"Clint needs to raise $20,000 by April 7th so we can get him on the primary ballot," said Altman, who is in the process of organizing fundraisers for Curtis in South Florida.

Like many Democrats, Altman started becoming disillusioned with politics after the 2000 Florida fiasco in which the Supreme Court voted to put Bush in the White House. In 2002, after the computer voting machines were introduced in Florida, she says it took her three attempts for her vote to register for her Democratic candidate.

"When I discovered afterwards that I was not the only one who'd had this experience, I became obsessed with learning about electronic machines and the ways they could be manipulated without detection," she said.

"I find it outrageous that in spite of all of the evidence, the mainstream media refuses to cover this story," she said. "And the Democratic Party refuses to even consider, at least publicly, the possibility that fraud and election rigging could be taking place."

Many of Curtis' allegations have found merit. Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, an illegal Chinese immigrant, was arrested for trying to ship U.S. missile technology to China after Curtis reported him to law enforcement. He was employed by Li Yang, a close friend of Feeney. Nee accepted a plea agreement which required him to pay $200 in fines and was placed on three years of unsupervised probation.

"They gave him nothing," Curtis said. "He could have received 200 years in prison and millions in fines, but down here in Florida, if you know the right people, you can get away with anything."

In 2003, Ray Lemme, an investigator from the Florida Department of Transportation, looked into a contract between Curtis' former employer, Yang Enterprises, and the state. He was later found dead in a Georgia motel room, and it was ruled a suicide. Lemme was the first official from the state to investigate claims that Yang had been overbilling Florida.

"Two weeks before his death, he told me he had tracked the corruption all the way to the top and had just a few loose ends to tie up," Curtis said.

Acutely concerned over voting fraud, Curtis devised a system for individuals to register their votes online.

"As a temporary solution, I designed a website where people can register who they voted for," he said. "To maintain a secret ballot, the candidate will not know who voted for him, but if the actual election is flipped, then he will be able to find out how many people voted for him."

But first, he has to get on the ballot.