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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    State Katherine Harris A close examination suggests thousands of voters may have lost their right to vote based on a flaw ridden list of purported felons provided by a private firm with tight Republican ties How did we know the felons were innocent We asked a county elections official Linda Howell of Madison County Florida In March 2000 Harris sent the supervisor a list of criminals and Ms Howell s own name was on it I was very upset Howell said I know I m not a felon Howell a white Republican refused to remove her own name from the voter rolls and threw out the Harris list In another county an elections official restored the rights of one felon on the list a local judge But not everyone on the list was treated so delicately We did run some number stats and the number of Blacks on the list was higher than expected for our population says Chuck Smith a statistician for Hillsborough County Smith was concerned that African Americans made up 54 percent of the people on the original felons list though they constitute only 11 6 percent of the county s voting population He challenged the state on this but was told by Harris office that since most criminals are Black the figure was not surprising On the Hillsborough list in hundreds of cases names of felons and voters did not match nor birthdates nor even gender Smith added that the ChoicePoint computer program automatically transformed various forms of a single name In one case a voter named Christine was identified as a felon based on the conviction of a Christopher with the same last name Smith says ChoicePoint would not respond to queries about its proprietary methods Nor would the company provide additional verification data to back its fingering certain individuals in the registry purge By the rules established by Harris office a voter is assumed guilty and convicted of a crime and conviction unless and until they provide documentation certifying their innocence Some had been convicted of a misdemeanor and not a felony others were felons who had had their rights restored and others were simply cases of mistaken identity While there was much about the lists that bothered Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Iorio she felt she didn t have a choice but to use them Of the 3 258 names on the original list the county concluded that more than 15 percent were in error and tried to restore as many as possible If that ratio held statewide no fewer than 7 000 voters were incorrectly targeted for removal from voting rosters Gore lost by 537 votes Hillsborough County s attempt to do the right thing was rare In rural Florida the mostly Black purge list met little opposition Etta Rosado spokeswoman for the Volusia County Department of Elections said the county essentially accepted the file at face value did nothing to confirm the accuracy of it and doesn t inform citizens ahead of time

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article6_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    fact I knew it and so did Governor Jeb Bush Was Jeb Bush involved So I telephoned a clerk in First Brother Jeb s office who whispered Call me tomorrow before official opening hours And then I did call the next morning this heroic clerk spent two hours explaining to me The courts tell us to do this and we do that She referred to court orders that I d gotten wind of which ordered Governor Bush to stop interfering in the civil rights of ex cons who had the right to vote I asked Jeb s clerk four times Are you telling me the governor knowingly violated the law and court orders excluding eligible voters And four times I got The courts tell us to do this allow certain felons to vote and we do that block them But Salon despite a mountain of evidence stalled then stalled some more Resentment of the takeover of the political coverage by an alien was getting on the team s nerves I can t blame them And it didn t help that Salon was facing bankruptcy staff were frazzled and it was nearly Christmas The remains of the year were lost while I got hold of legal opinions from top lawyers saying Bush s office was wrong and later the Civil Rights Commission would also say Bush was wrong While Salon dithered the political clock was ticking and George W was oozing toward the Oval Office E J Dionne of the Washington Post told me You have to get this story out Greg right away Notably instead of directing me to the Post s newsroom E J told me to call The Nation a kind of refugee center for storm tossed news reports After double checking and quintuple checking the facts the Nation held its breath and printed the story of the third group of wrongly purged ex felon voters numbering nearly three thousand and a fourth group of voters wrongly barred from registering in the first place yet another 40 000 of them almost all Democratic voters This was a gutsy decision by Nation The 57 000 voters I had already reported on in Salon were innocents wrongly tagged as ex cons the new group prevented from voting were indeed convicted felons who nevertheless had the legal right to vote in Florida There s not a lot of editors out there with sympathy for convicts even the Democrats stayed mum on this one despite the cost to their party Here s what I discovered It has been well reported that Florida denies its nearly half a million former convicts the right to vote However Florida s own courts have repeatedly told the governor he may not take away the civil rights of Florida citizens who have committed crimes in other states served their time and had their rights restored by those states People from other states who have arrived in Florida with a felony conviction in their past number clearly over 50 000 and likely over 100 000 says criminal demographics expert Jeffrey Manza of Northwestern University are no fewer than 40 000 reformed felons eligible to vote in Florida Nevertheless agencies controlled by Harris and Bush ordered county officials to reject attempts by these eligible voters to register while publicly the governor s office states that it adheres to court rulings not to obstruct these ex offenders in the exercise of their civil rights Further Harris s office used sophisticated computer programs to hunt those felons eligible to vote and ordered them thrown off the voter registries David Bositis the Washington DC expert on voter demographics suggests that the block and purge program must have had a partisan motivation Why else spend 4 million if they expected no difference in the ultimate vote count White and Hispanic felons mostly poor vote almost as solidly Democratic as African Americans A University of Minnesota study estimates that for example 93 percent of felons of all races favored Bill Clinton in 1996 These qualified voters kept out of the polling booths on November 7 represented several times George W Bush s margin of victory in the state The disfranchisement operation began in 1998 under Katherine Harris s predecessor as secretary of state Sandra Mortham Mortham was a Republican star designated by Jeb Bush as his lieutenant governor running mate for his second run for governor A financial scandal caused Jeb to replace her with Harris Under Mortham the elections unit within the office of the secretary of state immediately launched a felon manhunt with a zeal and carelessness that worried local election professionals A friendly official slipped me an internal Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections memo dated August 1998 which warns Mortham s office that it had wrongly removed eligible voters in a botched rush to capriciously take names off the rolls However to avoid a public row the supervisors agreed to keep their misgivings within the confines of the bureaucracies in the belief that entering a public fight with state officials would be counterproductive One of the ex cons with the right to vote and attempted to register was Pastor Thomas Johnson of Gainesville Johnson ministers to House of Hope a faith based charity that guides ex convicts from jail into working life a program that has won high praise from the pastor s friend Governor Jeb Bush Ten years ago Johnson sold crack cocaine in the streets of New York got caught served his time then discovered God and Florida where early last year he attempted to register to vote But local election officials refused to accept his registration after he admitted to the decade old felony conviction from New York It knocked me for a loop It was horrendous said Johnson of his rejection Beverly Hill the election supervisor of Alachua County where Johnson attempted to register said that she used to allow ex felons like Johnson to vote Under Governor Bush that changed Recently the Governor s

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article7_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    of the data ChoicePoint used exactly none for cross checking as to the necessary verification of address history of the 66 000 named potential felons ChoicePoint performed this check in exactly zero cases There was then not a chance in hell that the list was 85 percent correct One county Leon Tallahassee carried out the purge as the law required But with doubts in the minds of their in house experts the county did the hard work of checking each name one by one to verify independently that the 694 named felons in Tallahassee were in fact ineligible voters They could verify only 34 names a 95 percent error rate That is killer information In another life decades ago I taught Collection and Use of Economic and Statistical Data at Indiana University Here s a quicky statistics lesson The statewide list of felons is homogeneous as to its accuracy Leon County provides us with a sample large enough to give us a confidence interval of 4 87 at a confidence level of 99 percent Are you following me class In other words we can be 99 percent certain that at least 90 2 percent of the names on the Florida list are not felons 52 000 wrongly tagged for removal Okay you want to argue and say not everyone tagged was actually removed Maybe 52 000 did not have their vote swiped but 42 000 or 22 000 Al Gore lost by 537 votes Now I was confident the list was junk it had to be because ChoicePoint did not use the most basic tools of verification But why didn t they Is ChoicePoint incompetent hasn t a clue of the methodology for verifying its output That s unlikely this is the company hired by the FBI for manhunts and the FBI doesn t pay for 90 2 percent wrong And why would ChoicePoint lie about it Their list was bogus and they had to know it Did someone want it wrong Could someone say want to swing an election with this poisoned list That s when I went back to a stack of documents from inside Harris s office and to one sheet in particular marked DBT CONFIDENTIAL AND TRADE SECRET When the going gets weird Hunter Thompson advises journalists the weird turn pro In London I showed this CONFIDENTIAL sheet to the ultimate pro Meirion Jones producer with BBC Television s Newsnight He said How soon can you get on a plane to Florida Mr Roberts Does a Runner Our BBC Newsnight broadcast began with a country and western twang off the rental car radio After hundreds of lies fake alibis Newsnight s camera followed me up to the eighteenth fioor of the Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee for my meeting with Clayton Roberts the squat bull necked director of Florida s Division of Elections Roberts who worked directly under Secretary of State Katherine Harris had agreed to chat with me on film We sat on the reception

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article8_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    statistician used during the verification process The 8 000 name Texas list had a 100 percent error rate which seemed a wee bit high to me What kind of academically based formula was used to verify the accuracy of these data Who was the consulting professional statistician Inscrutably silent on whether he or she exists ChoicePoint DBT referred me back to Clay Roberts His minions could not name this Man of Mystery either although the contract requires DBT to provide evidence of the statistician s hiring and analysis Neither the name nor the calculations were filed as required Eventually I found this a letter dated March 22 1999 from DBT to the state Our statistician said the one page note certified their list as 99 9 percent accurate I can imagine why our statistician would remain nameless 99 9 percent accurate but almost every name an eligible voter No backup Nada How convenient No independent technician no expert to see things go rotten no one to blow the whistle Evidence of Innocence Don t Need I turned back to the question of Florida hiring DBT for 2 3 million booting the company charging 5 700 When questioned George Bruder ChoicePoint DBT s senior vice president said a little birdie told him to enter that astonishing bid What else did the little birdie tell him What happened to the 1 200 databases the millions and millions of records that DBT used in its Carl Saganesque sales pitch to the state In fact the state paid for this vital cross check or at least DBT s bid said that for their two million dollar fee they would use artificial intelligence for cross referencing linked databases simultaneously searching hundred of data sources conducting millions of data comparisons compiling related data for matching and integration In all they had four billion records to check against Under Offer and Bid it read DBT will process total combined records from 8 250 000 Criminal Conviction Records 69 000 000 Florida Property Records 62 000 000 National Change of Address Records 12 590 470 Florida Driver License Records And so on The phone calls the massive data crunching it all justified the big payoff to DBT and scared away competitors who could not match DBT s database firepower DBT s offer promised 273 318 667 total records to be processed But they didn t do it Once the contract was nailed it seems a little birdie in the state told DBT not to bother with all that expensive computing work In the state files on the DBT bid I found a handwritten notation don t need next to the listing of verification databases the 62 million address histories etc though this work was included in the price Each pass would have cut the list by thousands thereby letting thousands more Democrats vote So when the state said Don t need the underlying motive was Don t want Wanted More Names Than We Can Verify DBT s expertise in obtaining data justified their hiring But it was a con Janet Mudrow the state s liaison with DBT confessed to me that DBT merely downloaded lists from eleven states that make the data available publicly such as Texas Any high school kid with a Mac and a credit card could have grabbed the names off the Internet And that was okay with Florida even though eight of those states do not take away an ex felon s voting rights and therefore should not have been used at all DBT s negligence in handing Florida the bogus Texas list cost Florida and its counties a pretty penny when they tried to reverse that error Yet Mudrow in Harris s office says the state neither demanded reimbursement nor sought any penalty as permitted under the contract In fact the state awarded DBT another contract renewal bringing total fees to over 4 million Why didn t the state complain sue or withhold payment Following my first reports when the stats hit the fan ChoicePoint DBT agreed to a one year extension of their contract without charge But why didn t the watchdog bark One can only conclude that Harris s office paid an awful lot of money for either a failed incomplete incompetent costly disastrous work that stripped innocent citizens of their rights or b services performed exactly as planned Was DBT paid to get it wrong Every single failure to verify by phone to sample and test to cross check against other databases worked in one direction to increase the number of falsely accused voters half of them Black How could ChoicePoint such an expert outfit do such a horrendous job without complaint from their client You d think their client the state ordered them to get it wrong They did Just before we went on air in February 2000 ChoicePoint vice president James Lee called us at the BBC s London studios with the first hint that the state of Florida instructed the company to give them the names of innocents The state he said wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon What an extraordinary statement When ChoicePoint saw the story with their own words more names than were actually verified printed across the screen the company went ballistic They demanded in writing to my network chiefs that we retract it all The BBC wouldn t back down an inch McKinney Nails the Confession Following the February 15 2001 broadcast only one member of the U S Congress called BBC to ask for our evidence Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney This lady is trouble the kind of trouble I like A Black single mom and doctoral candidate at Princeton s School of Diplomacy she is always asking questions And in the world of politics that makes her dangerous radioactive as a staffer from the Democratic National Committee describes her Unusual for a member of Congress she reads the detailed memos and evidence herself not

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article9_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    ballot in Gadsden and your ballot disappears into the machine it will not be counted For example some voters had checked off and written in the name Al Gore yet their vote did not count for Gore So I asked what I call The Florida Question By any chance do you know the racial profile of counties where machines accept bad ballots Then I got The Florida Answer We ve been waiting for someone to ask us that The clerk then pulled out a huge multicolored sheet listing for every Florida county the number of ballots not counted The proportion of uncounted ballots to the Black population county by county was a nearly perfect match But Ted Koppel s Nightline tells us this was because Blacks were too ignorant to figure out the ballot Could Ted have gotten it wrong As the Tallahassee officials demonstrated to me whether a ballot was counted or not had almost nothing to do with the voter s education or sophistication but an awful lot to do with the type of machine deployed and how the buttons were set Then I got to the 64 Dollar questions What did Harris and the governor know and when did they know it Was either aware of this racially loaded technical problem Harris s office and Jeb s are literally a stone s throw away from Sancho s The technicians told me That s why we set up this machine so they could see it before the election The Consortium That Couldn t Count Twisted press coverage murdered the story of ethnic cleansing of the voter rolls But simply smothering the news wasn t good enough for The New York Times CNN and the other keepers of the New Information Order With other major news outlets they joined together as the Consortium and spent a wagonload of cash to hire the National Opinion Research Center NORC of the University of Chicago to conduct what was wrongly called a recount of the ballots For months they held back the results Finally more than a year after the election they released their findings Bush would have won anyway headlines reassured us So shut up move on get over it The Lion of Kabul won fair and square Or did he First understand that NORC did not recount the ballots Rather its teams described each of the 180 000 spoiled ballots that Katherine Harris barred from the official total This was the first count of these ballots Also NORC coders were not allowed to count these ballots either merely provide physical descriptions of each ballot They could note in code Paper ballot Gore circled but could not count that ballot as a vote for Gore The newspaper and television executives and editors not the NORC experts called the winner in this one Most Americans would have thought the goal of this million dollar investigation was to find out whom Floridians wanted to vote for That tends to be what we mean

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article10_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    opposite of the September 18 memo September 18 before the election convicts from other states moving to Florida would be required to make application for restoration of civil rights in the State of Florida February 23 after the election out of state convicts need not apply for restoration of civil rights in Florida The post election letter was drafted one week after the Civil Rights Commission began to question Florida about the illegal maneuver and now Troy was telling me there was no record of the first letter in Keels files or in the office s files or in the state computers Uh oh There were two explanations Maybe I had screwed up My most serious accusation that the governor s office barred and removed thousands of legal voters in violation of two court rulings may have been dead wrong After all the cautious clerks had merely read me the text of the letter What if it had never been sent What if I d been had by my sources The first edition of this book had already gone to press The other possibility The letter existed but had been purged faster than a Black voter from the governor s files replaced by the February 23 letter with opposite meaning If so then Jeb Bush s office was skirting close to obstruction of justice Did the incriminating September 18 2000 letter exist In 2002 I obtained the answer from the most extraordinary source Katherine Harris Palast Twisted Greg Palast distorts and misrepresents the events surrounding the 2000 presidential election in Florida in order to support his twisted and maniacally partisan conclusions Had I said something to upset the secretary of state So began Harris s letter a vein popping screamer running beyond a thousand words dated April 2002 to my editors at Harper s It contained despite its gonna beat you up tone astonishing confessions First she does not deny the core allegation that her list of 57 700 felons contained the names of thousands of innocent Democratic voters You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read her acknowledgment that the debacle over which she presided as secretary of state exposed flaws in the elections process that had festered across America for decades In the world according to Harris blame flew everywhere from the legislature to the attorney general never landing on herself But what caught my eye and made me grab for the phone was her excuse for the illegal purge of out of state convicts Harris wrote that the governor s Office of Executive Clemency issued a letter telling her elections divisions to carry out the deed Hello I just received a note from Secretary Harris regarding a letter she received from Governor Bush s office regarding here I mentioned the felon issue leaving off the bits about twisted Could you fax me a copy And within the hour the clerk had sent me word for word as it had been read to me

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article11_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    My thoughts were more sobering Harris had after all effectively admitted in her screed to my editors at Harper s that she d aggressively moved to disenfranchise thousands of innocent Black folks Even if she believes she wasn t at fault how could she sleep at night I suspect she and the government and press would have been a bit more troubled if the wrongly purged voters came from country club membership rolls moneyed important and white Don t kid yourself the color of the excluded voters had an awful lot to do with why this investigation was dismissed by the U S media for so long The liberal media as Harris calls them would never recognize their own subtle prejudices Why had Salon com which named the first part of my investigation their top political story then lost its nerve and spiked Part II The story Salon feared eventually published in Nation and Harpers centered on Pastor Johnson of Alachua convicted in New York and therefore entitled to vote in Florida Salon com killed the story following doubts raised by of one of their editors The preppy white Ivy Leaguer could not understand why a middle aged Black man an ex con to boot did not raise a ruckus in a county office in the rural South Why didn t Pastor Johnson pound the table and demand his voting rights After all voters in Palm Beach had no problems complaining publicly Of the victims I spoke with the only African Americans who would agree to talk on camera were the three clerics whose collars afforded them a kind of cultural protection Alachua County Okeechobee this is still the Old South where within the memory of many of these people Black voters were hanged from trees The deep wounding history of Jim Crow explains the initial quiet of so many victims of the illegal purge a caution echoed and affirmed by the silence of the Democratic Party At the beginning of the twenty first century America is back to asking the question we thought resolved by the 1965 Voting Rights Act Should Black people be allowed the vote So far we ve discussed only the purge of citizens illegally barred from voting most of them falsely accused of having felony records Even if that wrong is righted a good half a million Floridians will still be barred from voting quite legally under Florida law And we know their color One third of all Black men in Florida have lost their right to vote And the Bush Brothers like it that way Within two months of the 2000 election President Bush convened a Bi BURP a Bipartisan Blue Ribbon Panel to recommend reforms to prevent another Florida Our president to ensure that we understood clearly he had no intention whatsoever of heeding his panel s findings and recommendations put two men in charge of the Bi BURP for whom he has the fondest disregard Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford Relieved of

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article12_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    Florida s voting methodologies on the entire nation then Senator Bob Torricelli stood with him grinning and agreeing which proves one can always find Democrats willing to attend their own political funeral Burying the Loot Keeping the Florida Voter Rolls Whiter Than White Back in Florida the NAACP acting on my report in Salon and the London papers sued ChoicePoint s DBT Katherine Harris and Clayton Road Runner Roberts for violating the civil rights of thousands of Florida citizens as guaranteed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the U S Constitution Harris insists she did no wrong But a trial would have been a risky move for Harris then running for Congress In June 2002 the last time she defended herself in court a judge reached an unusual albeit insightful verdict This lady is crazy Lucky for Harris the judge s remarks referred to her perverse interpretations of law not to her general state of mind otherwise under Florida regulations she would have to be purged from the voter rolls With purge files oozing to the surface ChoicePoint DBT announced it was getting out of the Scrubs R Us business and pleaded for mercy from the NAACP begging for settlement thereby avoiding class action claims Besides having been so helpful to the President s election they were now well placed for more lucrative business Following the September 11 2001 attacks ChoicePoint became one of the top recipients of lucrative no bid no limit contractors for the War on Terror offering up its multi billion record databases to the Department of Homeland Security In July 2002 Choicepoint s DBT signed off with People for the American Way which acts as the NAACP s law firm and confessed to the whole mess They provided the court with list of 94 000 names far more than I expected who were targeted for the purge Until then I had estimated that the list had at best one in ten verifiable names I was too kind The DBT records show that one in thirty names on its list positively matched name age social security number race and other identifiers with the felons they were purported to be In other words over 90 000 citizens half of them non white were wrongly named Harris to avoid spending her congressional campaign locked in a witness box explaining her Jim Crow operation her office and the state of Florida agreed to return the voters to the voter rolls Sadly they explained they could not return the voters their rights until after Governor Bush s reelection Note Last month in July 2003 I returned to Florida with my BBC crew to Congresswoman Harris district I met with the lead plaintiff in the NAACP case Willie Steen a veteran and hospital worker whom Florida agrees was wrongly tagged a felon Steen to this day remains barred from registering to vote Steen no surprise here is an African American And where in all this was the press Finally in summer

    Original URL path: http://www.topplebush.com/article13_election.shtml (2016-02-13)
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