A TANGLED WEB
"The handwriting on the wall may well be a forgery"
When we found out that all the poll workers in Florida, and probably in other states, as well, submitted their true signatures two weeks in advance of the election to their "teachers" in the election school, it seemed to follow that anybody collecting those signatures would have a leg up on forging them.
On a cold, rainy afternoon in the spring of 1973, Jim opened the door to his townhouse and there on the pool table were two piles of large paper.
Ken was standing over them with a huge grin on his face.
"Wait'll you see these," he said.
"Where'd you get them?"
"I ripped off the Dade County Courthouse."
"You stole the canvass sheets?"
"Yeah. I walked into the clerk's office where they keep them, and I saw these sheets here... sheets with blank backs." He grabbed the top sheet off the pile. "Look, there's no ink on it at all," he said, pointing from corner to corner. "No laws written on it. Blank."
"There's no printing on these, nothing to certify."
"This is fantastic," Jim whooped. "What made you take them?"
"I realized once I found these with blank backs, that if I didn't take them they could destroy them, especially if we got a court order to look for them. So I took a whole armful of the blank backs and signature ones, and I walked out of the courthouse. Nobody said a word."
"Nobody saw you?"
"Just grab and walk, don't look around guiltily... just move on."
Jim marveled at the gall of it. To go into the courthouse and steal public documents under the clerks' noses was a third degree felony. It was certainly the most radical thing that was done up-to-date in the whole investigation.
Ken felt as if he had finally carpe'd the diem and made a move.
"We have them by the balls with this," he said.
"What races do they cover?"
"It's the non partisan races in the 1972 election. There's a machine that stands over in the corner in all of the precincts. The election supervisor never tells you about it. They call it the non partisan machine. That's all the judges, the schoolboard and the state attorney."
"What's it doing over on the side?"
"They don't send anybody over there. Most people don't care about anything except the big races. They're satisfied and don't ask where the other little races are. So the non partisan machines don't get voted on unless somebody asks in particular. Nobody's in charge and nobody reads the numbers off after the election."
"Then that means," Jim said, "that the judges and the state attorney are the two groups that prosecute vote fraud, yet their election is patently rigged and uncertified."
"Still, they're the ones you have to go to if you claim there's fraud."
"Only in America."
"We're starting to get to the point where there are no benign explanations," Ken said. "This is vote fraud on a massive, arrogant, amazing scale. At least to me."
"Do we have them now?" Ken asked.
"Yeah. We've got 'em."
"How are they going to get around no certification? It's one thing to confound people with the signatures, it's another to take those signatures away entirely."
"We'll go to Rubin. Rubin can call a press conference, show these uncertified canvass sheets, and we won't be 'crazy' anymore," Jim said.
"Then we'll go to the FBI."
"If they printed one canvass sheet per machine," Ken calculated, "there'd be 1,648 canvass sheets. If we find out they printed more, that means there must be duplicates floating around somewhere. We've got to find out who ordered these canvass sheets printed, and who ordered that no certification be put on them. Right?"
Aclerk in the election division told Ken the name of the printer: Franklin Press in Miami, a big, rich printing company with many government contracts.
Jim, who identified himself as a reporter, called Franklin Press' president and asked:
"How many canvass sheets did you print for the election?"
"We printed about 4,000."
"Do they have certification on the back?"
"How about the non partisan race? Is there certification on the back of those, too?"
"We have sheets here that are blank on the back. Can we come down and show them to you?"
The president left the line for a minute and then returned:
"We didn't print certifications on some of those sheets on the instructions of William Miller, the elections supervisor," he said.
"Thanks, we'll get back to you."
"Iwant to try my hand at it," Jim said. "What?"
"Stealing the canvass sheets." "Let's go."
We drove to Ft. Lauderdale up U.S. 1, through Hollywood, past pistachio-green South Broward High School, which looked the same as when Jim was a Broward Bulldog and devoured the sloppy Joes in the cafeteria at lunch. We drove by the Ft. Lauderdale airport and the conch shell vendors and fruit shippers and orange juice sellers in their low white buildings. We passed "Bet-a-Million Gates" million-dollar banyan tree, which was lusciously green and shade-making. Mr. Bet-a-Million was a Detroiter who would bet on almost anything. In the 1930s, he bet a million dollars that nobody could move that particular banyan tree to his club in Chicago. Its roots spread out forty feet and into the pores of the coral substrata. And huge limbs reached out sixty feet, with dozens of roots falling from each limb and back into the soil. Nobody ever collected on the bet, but once they heard the banyan-tree story, people talked about it for days... the possibilities of how you'd move the damned thing anywhere, much less up North, and get it to live. For a million dollars people are willing to get creative.
Into the Broward County courthouse we went, dressed in jeans. We walked into the clerk's office and asked to see the canvass sheets.
"Of course," the clerk agreed. She brought them out in tall stacks.
Jim looked around and saw that none of the clerks were paying them any attention. He took one stack, held it under his arm like laundry and walked out of the courthouse. Ken, unburdened by purloined documents, was right behind.
We took off in the green Maverick, and headed back to Jim's townhouse where we dumped the load.
Then we got back in the Maverick and drove to West Palm Beach. This time we passed Ft. Lauderdale and got to Deerfield Beach, a sleepy little town, and Boca Raton, small, undiscovered yet by the hoi-polloi. Then came West Palm Beach. This is not Palm Beach. This is middle to lower class folks who live on the wrong side of the Intercoastal Waterway. It's a bunch of squatty stucco buildings that look like architectural renegades from Los Angeles. They are inhabited by a volatile mixture of black people and rednecks, a lot of whom worked for the rich people on Palm Beach as bartenders, maids, gardeners, garbage collectors, small shopkeepers. The further west you went the swampier it got, until you hit the Everglades.
Into the Palm Beach County courthouse. We ask for canvass sheets. They bring them. This time clerks were watching us.
"Stare them down," Ken whispered.
We each stared at whoever was looking at us until they looked away Then Ken grabbed a pile, and we walked out, got in the car and headed home. It was a long day.
At home, we spread our loot out on the green felt. Jim studied the similarities among the different piles.
"They look a lot like the ones in Dade County These are all sort of gray... the numbers are written in by hand... when you flip them, see... there's a consistent grayness... the handwriting has the same emotional level, it's all neat... no broken or thick pencil marks. Pencils wear down and break off... in a real sheet, you've got to see all those different strokes, but look at these, man... there's none of it. It's uniformly gray with thin lines, in all of the writing."
"So what do you think?" Ken asked. "This is getting too big to handle. Nobody's going to believe this. We've got this huge fucker by the tail and nobody's going to believe it."
"Is it possible that the people who fill out canvass sheets all over the state have identical handwriting?"
Jim laughed as he walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out his frozen glass mug from the freezer. "Yeah, right. There must be some kind of kindred spirit that precinct workers share, they all got the same handwriting." He snapped the top off a can of root beer and poured it into the icy mug. "Now we've got three counties and all of the signatures look almost exactly the same in emotional content from morning until night, twelve hours later."
"Yeah, I know. From morning when they signed them, while they were fresh, to night when the signatures all look just like they did in the morning," Ken counted off points: " no alteration of mood, no emotional content, no different slant, no extra pressure."
Jim nodded. "And too much exactness as to where they sign on the line. If a signature is indented in the morning, it's indented almost exactly the same way at night. That's not the way it would be if something is human about it."
"Remember those five messy canvass sheets we saw with Lynch?"
"They looked real, sloppy enough. There was a certain illiteracy about them. Some of the writing was heavy and black, and obviously made by pencils that were nubs. Not all crisp and sharp like these."
Jim flipped through the stack.
"This is forged, it's the same Stepford effect that we saw in Dade County."
"But how the hell could Lynch, our friendly handwriting expert, say they weren't forged?"
"It's a conundrum."
About nine o'clock the next morning. Ken called the sheriff of Broward County.
"I stole all the canvass sheets from the courthouse," Ken said in his coolest, matter-of-fact way "Arrest me."
The sheriff laughed.
"Keep me out of this," he said. "I don't want any part of it."
Then he called the sheriff of Palm Beach County and told him the same thing.
"Good luck," the sheriff said.
Not only couldn't we garner any publicity, we literally couldn't get arrested.
Next day we visited the FBI.
We met with agent Ed Putz, a very Gary Cooperish guy. We showed him the canvass sheets. He spread them out on a table, shuffled them, looked at them from a standing position, and said:
"These are forgeries."
He gave them a dismissive push and disappeared behind a door. We made our statement to someone else, and left some canvass sheets as evidence.
"How did Putz know they were forged?" Ken asked that night, while he racked the fifteen balls for a game of eight ball. We were at the Bingo Bar headquarters on the Beach for some of the nation's brightest pool shooters.
"I don't know. He disappeared too fast to find out."
The next day we took sample sheets over to the Organized Crime Bureau of Dade County. Sgt. Walter Blue, a crime lab technician, took us into a room lit by red lights. There were five or six different types of microscopes and lots of chemicals.
He told us that he would put the canvass sheets under the microscope to examine the fibers and ink.
"I'm going to look for broken fibers... "he explained. "All paper, when you magnify it, is made up of what appears to be thick threads, or fibers, criss-crossing each other. So when you write on it, you have to eventually break one of those fibers especially with all those signatures. Also, the pencils used by the county are those little hard sharp things, you know..."
"The ones they use at race tracks?" Ken offered.
He nodded. "And when most people press down on the paper they make pin point holes. They also indent the paper... so I'll be looking for ridge lines on the backside of the writing. You should be able to feel them with your finger, in some cases, but under a microscope, they'll look like the Grand Tetons."
"How long is this going to take?" Jim asked.
"I'll call you when I'm done."
When we were in the suntan business everybody advised us as to the best way to promote Sunscrene. They always asked the same thing: "Have you ever thought of those little packages they give away when you fly to Florida? Get it on airplanes!"
And in our Votescam investigation, the question almost everybody asked was: "Aren't you guys afraid of getting killed?"
The second question was invariably: "Have you guys gone to '60 Minutes'?"
No, "60 Minutes" came to us.
One day we got a call from Florida State Senator Alan Becker. Becker was a lawyer known as "The Mink Cub." He wore exquisite European-styled vested suits, hankerchief [sic] in the pocket. He was perfect. But the "Mink Cub" moniker was due to his hair slicked back and jet black.
"Mike Wallace is coming over to do a story on me being a condominium advocate," Becker told Jim. "You want to meet him?"
An hour later we were in his office. Wallace was interviewing Becker, and when he finished he turned his attention to us.
"What have you got?" he asked.
We laid out four years of evidence for Wallace and his crew Wallace appeared flabbergasted, but he put nothing on tape. However, he said that he was headed right back to New York to get approval from his bosses to do our story. In fact, freelance investigative reporter Gaeton Fonzi, wrote a piece about Wallace having the Votescam story in his pocket.
JULY, 1974 MIAMI, FLORIDA
THE GREAT DADE ELECTION RIG CONTINUES
by Gaeton Fonzi
Just recently, Channel 7 television reporter Brian Ross happened to be returning to Miami from New York on the same plane as CBS-TV newsman Mike Wallace. With his number one network show, "60 Minutes", Wallace has earned a reputation as a top investigative journalist who goes after the big stories. Chatting with Ross, Wallace told him that he was coming back to Miami for two specific reasons: one of which was to film an interview with a show business personality appearing on Miami Beach. The other reason, he said, was much more important: to look into what he had been told might be the most shocking vote fraud scandal ever to rock the nation. And, confided Wallace, it involved a conspiracy between major local media and key figures in Miami's power structure.
The Great Dade Election Rig continues.
After four years. Four years! In spite of numerous interments, the amazing story has surfaced anew. Finally it appears to be in the sight of network television. It is the "Loch Ness Monster" of Miami journalism.
For whatever reasons, what Mike Wallace did in Miami on that return trip, we never found out what it was. Most likely, he shot tape and interviewed some people. It appeared obvious from Fonzi's lead sentence that Wallace had gone back to New York, had discussions with associates, and was returning to Miami to follow up on the story. Nothing appeared on the air.*
Meanwhile, while waiting for the handwriting analysis, life in the tropics returned to a steady hum. It was relieved only by trying to figure out our next strategy in the investigation.
Rock was dying and disco was coming in. Disc jockeys played plastic records for people who shook their booty. These booty-shakers grew up to be yuppies. There were still some good drugs out there, mostly derivitives [sic] of nutmeg. They started with the initials DM, like DMA. It was a form of speed, with all the euphoria of cocaine but without the valley. It was the beginning of the designer drugs, and they were called "nice," because everybody who ever took them would say, "Oh, this is nice, man."
"Jim, this is Sgt. Walter Blue."
Jim immediately motioned Ken to pick up the other phone.
"These canvass sheets you brought me are forgeries. Why isn't anyone doing anything about this?"
"I don't know, I'm doing my damndest to get somebody to do something" Jim said.
"This is what I found. There are no fibers broken. That means that none of the people who wrote those signatures pressed hard enough to indent the paper or break the fiber. There's not a number big enough to tell you the odds against no breaks with hundreds of signatures involved. Plus the pencil lines all have a uniform flow without breaks in the flow. That's impossible if the signatures are genuine."
"How can that be accomplished?" Jim asked, amazed.
"I don't know, but it bothers me that this is going on. I'm concerned."
"We're doing our best," Jim said.
Now we were pissed. Lynch!
Lynch was the handwriting expert who told us the canvass sheet signatures were genuine. We took him at his word. Now we had an FBI agent and a police specialist who swore they were forgeries.
We called Lynch and told him that we had to see him immediately, and that we'd explain when we got there. He lived in Plantation, which is near the Everglades west of Ft. Lauderdale. It was open cattle and citrus land, with thick black soil, cockleburrs [sic], coral snakes and canals planted with mile-long borders of pine trees.
Lynch lived in a stucco subdivision house with a Florida grass lawn, a palm tree, a carport. He met us at the door and led us into a well-equipped home laboratory in the back.
"Let's see these under the microscope." Jim handed Lynch a single canvass sheet.
Lynch was peering into the eyepiece and seemed very calm.
"These are not forgeries," he repeated.
Jim took a look. Now he knew what to look for. He saw the letters "floating" on top of the paper fibers. There were no breaks, penpoints, smudges, nothing dissimilar.
"Look," Jim stepped aside so that Ken could see, "not a fiber is broken."
Ken looked, then erupted.
"Hey, what are you saying?" he asked Lynch. 'The ink floats on the surface, there's no breaks, and we've been told twice now that these are forgeries."
While Ken was talking, Jim walked out into the anteroom and examined the books on the shelves. He wanted an idea of who this man was. He saw that he had a technical book selection consistent with all that equipment.
Then, on the coffee table, he spotted an opened magazine. It was on display the same way anyone would leave a "vanity piece" to be admired. Jim walked over and picked it up. It was turned to a page that had the headline: "How to Forge Documents with a Bank Rapidograph."
Jim read it twice.
He read it again and it said the same thing.
He looked at who wrote it. It was by Robert Lynch!
For the first time in this investigation, the hair on the back of Jim's neck stood up.
He took the magazine to Ken and stuffed it in his hand.
"Look, this guy's got a story in Police Magazine, May '72 about forging documents with a bank Rapidograph."
Lynch stood quietly.
Jim heard a rustling in the hall. A flash of paranoia swept over him.
The scene rang through his mind of Lynch's wife, with a shotgun, shooting them as intruders. Nobody would have doubted it or cared less.
"Let's get the fuck out of here," Jim said.
In the car heading back home, Jim explained to Ken that he had only glanced at the article.
"So what did you see?"
"It's a thing called a bank Rapidograph. Apparently it's an instrument that you can trace a signature with. It copies the signature with one pencil and another pencil or pen is attached on some kind of a swing arm it traces the exact movement on another piece of paper."
"So if Lynch used a Rapidograph on these canvass sheets he could trace it off the signatures he got at the schooling session two weeks in advance, and repeat them on unsigned canvass sheets."
"Then there would be a set of canvass sheets that could be substituted for the originals and nobody would know the difference. Unless they happened, like we did, to stumble across those five, where the handwriting was real."
Jim watched the heavy rain as it hammered the hood. "Well, I think that answers Henry King Stanford's question," he smiled.
"We can't prove Lynch did it."
"But we know how it's done, he wrote the article on how to do it, and now he denies that what he saw under the microscope was forgery when two experts say it is," Jim reasoned. "If the fucker quacks like a duck, shoot it."
We headed for Rubin's office on Miami Beach.
The office was in a wing of a baronial mansion from the 1930s with stained glass windows and exotic woods. It felt expensively medieval.
Rubin listened to the story and read the material.
He laughed. He loved this kind of intrigue, especially if it gave him a shot at the Democratic war lords who controlled the county.
"Will you call a press conference?" Ken asked.
The next day all the media showed up at Rubin's office, as they always did, and still do. There was a lot of excitement in the air. Rubin had prepared himself for this conference with a singular focus. His plan was to follow up with a visit to the state attorney's office, to present the evidence and demand an investigation.
At the appointed time, Rubin strode into the scene.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the press," his voice was compelling, "I've called you here today to offer you what I consider shocking and sickening, but undeniable, admissable and conclusive proof, that elections in this county have been massively tampered with for at least the last six years and probably well before that."
Rubin held up the blank-backed canvass sheets and the forged certifications and told the press what it all meant. With that opener, he then began exhibiting examples of forgery on canvass sheets from Dade County to Palm Beach. He told the media that the Organized Crime Bureau had confirmed that signatures on every sample were not those of poll workers, but had been affixed by other means.
"Desperate measures by desperate men," hissed a Channel 7 representative. He stalked out.
The Miami News ran the story on the front page, with a photograph of Rubin holding up a forged canvass sheet. The Miami Herald ran a front-page photograph and a story inside.
A few days later, William Miller, who took over when Braterman quit, also resigned as election supervisor.
Joyce Deiffenderfer, the woman from the League of Women Voters who wept and cried that she did not want to "get caught in this thing," was named election supervisor.
There was no followup in the press.
And that was that.
One day Jim got a call at The Planet from somebody at the Dade County election division. The hushed female voice said:
"The Metro commission has voted millions of dollars to send all the voting machines up to the Carolinas to get them retrofitted with Printomatic devices. Meanwhile, they'll gut the machines and crush all the old parts. That gets rid of any evidence of shaved wheels."
What's a Printomatic device?
In early September 1974 the primaries arrived again. At 7 a.m. we drove to a precinct on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami. It was in Howard's Trailer Camp, four square blocks of mobile homes. What we found shocked and elated us at the same time.
First, the keys to the backs of the new Printomatic-equipped voting machines, for the first time ever, had not been issued to the precinct captains. They could no longer open the backs and see the numbers inside. Instead, they were told to crank a handle that had been implanted into the back of the machine up there in Carolina. They were assured it would make a roller run across the paper, which had been treated so that numbers would appear when impressed by the raised counters. After the roller rumbled across the paper from left to right, one of two pieces of paper would slide out of a slot at the bottom. On it would be numbers. For a virgin, un-voted-on machine, it was supposed to show all zeroes. But none of the captains nor anyone else in the precinct actually got to look at the counters themselves.
Jim called Joyce Dieffenderfer from a pay phone.
"Where are the keys to these machines?" he asked.
"They're locked in Jack Wert's desk. He's my assistant."
A call to Wert:
"Yeah, they're locked in my desk because they've got the Printomatic, they don't need keys anymore."
Jim hurried back to the precinct just in time to see two stocky men in dark suits opening the back of a machine.
Ken motioned to Jim: "The roller system isn't working. It's jammed up. They called these guys the troubleshooters." Then he pointed outside to a white Cadillac with Kentucky plates. "That's theirs."
"These guys are decidedly strangers," Jim said.
They opened the back door of the machine with a key and took out the Printomatic paper. It was about two feet by three feet, as big as the back of the machine. When they pulled it out, you could see the piece of paper was bunched up in the middle where the roller had wrinkled it. Apparently, that's what had hung it up. The two guys tried to hustle the paper away quickly. One grabbed it to his chest and turned to walk out, calling over his shoulder:
"The machine's out of order until further notice."
In a flash Ken grabbed the paper and yanked it out of the guy's arms. The stranger was momentarily stunned. Then Ken whipped around and spread the paper on the nearest table, smoothing it out. At least ten precinct workers were bug-eyed as they watched.
What we all saw was a wrinkled piece of paper with zeroes corresponding to the candidate counters filling the entire sheet even where the roller hadn't touched.
"Hey, these have been preprinted." Jim said loudly "The pressure roller only went half-way across before it wrinkled the paper."
A loud barnyard hubub went up from the workers.
"We're not going to sign anything."
The surprised troubleshooter lunged over to grab the paper off the table and walked quickly back to the Cadillac.
The precinct workers were clearly angry. The newfangled crankhandle was actually a vote scam, a decoy. The Printomatic didn't do anything but make people think it imprinted true counter numbers.
"I quit." A worker walked out.
"They want us to certify that!" Another followed him.
One by one, every worker walked out of the precinct until in ten minutes it was empty.
The new crank handles and rollers didn't work in most of the other precincts across the county that day either, and the scam was also revealed to precinct workers when troubleshooters came to unstick the rollers. Many of the workers walked out.
The next day. The Miami Herald, carried a story about the poll workers' walkout which said that, due to some "snafu," thousands of precinct workers throughout the county left their jobs and were replaced by Metro police and firemen.
The story neglected to say what the snafu was, or why the workers had walked off.
And that was that.
A day later, in the black-soil "redlands" area south of Miami where they truck-farmed celery tomatoes, strawberries, limes and Ponderosa lemons, about 200 citizens from all over the county met near the settlement of Perrine on a moonless night.
It was at Clark and Dotty Merrill's place. They were well-known civic activists. Clark worked for the City of Miami as an engineer, and he had a kind of tenure that made it difficult to fire him for voicing his opinions or making waves. Dotty was from Boston, and she was loud and funny, with a marked Bahston accent. They'd gotten the word out on radio and through fliers about the Printomatic fraud. A lot of precinct workers had called them when they realized nothing was going to be said about it in the newspapers. We called them, too.
We parked among a lot of cars and went into the Merrill's lived-in stucco house. The house was filled to the gunwhales [sic] with people, mostly in their thirties and up, a lot of municipal employees, merchants and workers. Everybody but lawyers. You couldn't buy a lawyer in that house. Dotty led the town meeting. Clark was a big man who'd rather listen than talk.
"We've seen it with our own eyes, now," a precinct worker said. "And it's a fraud. But the election came off on schedule."
"You should have seen the hysteria when everyone left our precinct and people kept coming in to vote, but there was nobody to sign them in."
"It took Joyce a couple of hours to round up the cops to fill in."
"Why did the Herald lie that it was just a snafu? It was a downright rigging and they know it."
Dottie motioned for them to quiet down.
"According to the Colliers here," she said, "the media is involved in all this up to its cajones. We've got to put pressure on the Herald to print the truth."
The group debated all night, and finally decided to send a mission to The Miami Herald and The Miami News to get them to do vote fraud stories.
A delegation was also sent to the State Attorney.
By the time the third meeting at the Merrill's house came around, there were reports that nobody was going to do anything. No exposes were going to appear in the News or the Herald. Editors told the delegation that it was a "non story." A "non issue." The charges were "impossible to prove," and so on. Editors routinely dismissed the messengers as crackpots.
The State Attorney refused to investigate.
And that was that.
On September 9, Ellis Rubin held a standing-room-only press conference.
He had gone to the trouble of having a blackboard set up in the conference room, and now he used it to describe in detail the "Missing Keys Scam." Then he walked over to a Printomatic voting machine set up in the corner He showed how the device denied poll workers their mandate to visually eyeball the zeroes in the backs of the machines by not giving them the keys to look inside and see the alignment of the counter wheels.
Reporters took notes and video cameras hummed away.
"What are you going to do about it, Ellis?" a reporter asked.
"I intend to present this and other supporting evidence to the State Attorney's office."
"Do you expect any prosecutions... and, if so, who would be the targets?"
"It would be improper for me to speculate," Ellis replied calmly, "but I certainly expect the State Attorney's office to do its duty."
The next day the major newspapers were awash in material about the press conference. Front page headline in the Miami News boomed:
MASSIVE VOTE FRAUD CHARGED IN DADE ELECTIONS
That afternoon Rubin went with Ken to the office of Janet Reno, the tall, rawboned daughter of big, rawboned Hank Reno, the best police reporter in Miami, bar none. Janet Reno was an assistant State Attorney.
Rubin intended to ask Reno to accept the blank-backed canvass sheets, make a full investigation and go to the grand jury to have them indict somebody for tampering with the 1972 election. Ken and Rubin signed a waiver of immunity in order to make a statement about vote fraud for the record. The waiver meant they were entirely responsible for their testimony, even if it meant a lot of personal trouble. If they hadn't signed the waiver it would have looked suspicious.
The press was waiting by the score outside Reno's office.
We were sure that Rubin would come out and announce that Reno was going to take the evidence to the grand jury, or appoint a special prosecutor.
Instead, when Rubin finally emerged from behind the closed doors of that inner sanctum, he was literally ashen-faced, downcast, and crestfallen all in one. We had never seen him like this.
The lights and cameras all came on.
Rubin walked to the bank of microphones. "Miss Reno has asked me to inform you that she has examined the evidence and as far as any prosecutions are concerned, the statute of limitations has expired."
With that barebones statement still hanging in the air, Rubin bolted to a nearby escalator and charged down its stairs to avoid any questions from the press, or from us.
We didn't let it go at that.
In the extreme tension of the moment we saw four years of research trashed by Reno. We took the stairs three at a time and chased our former paladin out of the Metro Justice Building. We caught up with him just as his antique red convertible was pulling away from the curb.
Ken jumped on the running board and leaned over. He looked into Rubin's eyes for a split second. Then he jumped off as Rubin gunned the motor and sped away.
"What did he say?" Jim asked.
"Nothing, he just stared straight ahead."
"What was his expression?"
"No." Jim was dumbfounded. "Not Ellis Rubin... lawyer for the Watergate burglars... the man who visits Richard Nixon at his home... asshole buddies with the CIA and the FBI and and Naval Intelligence and probably the Mossad! So what the hell could Janet Reno have said to scare him?"
We wouldn't know that answer until we met up with him in the future, eight years later.
* Within a month of Fonzi's article appearing in Miami Magazine, Miami News editor, Sylvan Meyer, purchased that magazine and permanently stopped any followup articles from being written on the Votescam story.
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