- Why This Exposé?
- Self-created “Enemies”
- Lies, Smears, Smoke and Mirrors
- Bullying & Verbal Abuse
- Creating Even More Enemies
Why This Exposé?
This exposé is about Mr. Brent M. Turner, a election “integrity” activist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since spring, 2005, both Mr. Turner and I have been advocating for open source election systems. We both worked as volunteers for the Open Voting Consortium (OVC) starting by June, 2005. By March, 2006, I felt that the OVC was going to fail, largely because of flaws with it’s leadership. Making matters worse, I learned that Mr. Brent Turner has his own very serious problems.
In 2013, Mr. Brent Turner started up CAVO, the California Association of Voting Officials, and continued to lobby politicians and citizens around the San Francisco Bay Area, in the state capitol, Sacramento, and across the country. From sheer energy, he has been a noisy activist for open source election systems. Unfortunately, he has been doing so using deception, falsehoods, lies, smears, insults, personal attacks and bullying. Dealing with this disruptive behavior makes the work of many other open source advocates much more difficult, especially when we hear VIPs say “I like open source, but I don’t like who’s pushing it.” He’s giving the movement bad credibility and an ugly reputation. Worse, his embarrassing behavior and bullying has pushed good citizens out of the open source movement. His negative toxicity has destroyed at least 2 groups in the SF Bay Area, the San Mateo (County) Election Integrity League, and the San Francisco Election Integrity League. This left him nearly alone in the field, which is what he wants, because he then controls it.
The problem is that those Mr. Brent M. Turner is talking with don’t know better because they can’t find the complete story about him – until now, with this exposé. I don’t enjoy writing this, but there is really no other way to expose a charlatan.
Inserting a link to this page when you post on the web: http://BrentTurner.exposed, will help to boost it in searches, so that unsuspecting individuals can learn the full truth about Mr. Brent Turner and CAVO.
What follows contains many direct quotes from Mr. Brent Turner, almost all of them documented. They are but samples of a much longer, much larger pattern of lies and abuses.
Note: Because Mr. Brent Turner believes in censorship, he has blocked individuals from reading his Facebook postings. Therefore, I am including links to copies of postings cited in these pages, along with the original URL. Links to actual Facebook pages may need two clicks.
The Enemies List
In the fall of 2016, Mr. Brent Turner was pre-announcing on Facebook an enemies list, what he then called his “Matrix of Motherfuckers”. On December 20, 2016, Mr Turner published an attack on Dr. David Dill and Verified Voting. He claimed that “The NAACP-/ACLU / Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights / League of Women Voters / Common Cause / Brennan Center for Justice and many others follow the Verified Voting leadership.” He includes a link to his enemies list. This list is an honor roll of over 1 2 7 leaders of the election integrity movement. They include Dr. Ron Rivest, Dr. David Dill, Dr. David Jefferson, Dr. Barbara Simons, Dr. Alex Halderman, Dr. Doug Jones, Dr. Philip Stark, Dr. Joseph Kiniry, Harri Hursti, Bev Harris, Mitch Trachtenberg, Brad Friedman, Mimi Kennedy, Greg Palast, and Dr. Chris Jerdonek, former president of the San Francisco Elections Commission and the very best advocate open source election systems has in San Francisco. Mr. Brent Turner’s enemies list also includes 3 2 civic organizations, headlined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Verified Voting Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Rock The Vote. Full disclosure: I am on this list. I know numerous other dedicated advocates who would love to be included.
This is real. Mr. Turner has published a list naming as his enemies 1 2 7 leaders of the election integrity movement, and 3 2 highly respected civic organizations. Where he should have 100+ allies, he creates on his own enemies. A critical mistake. There’s more coming.
Making A Woman Cry
On April 9, 2017, Mr. Brent Turner published a post titled “Why I feel good about making the President of the League of Women Voters cry …”. The title could have been something like: “An early encounter with opposition to open source”. But no, the title brags that he feels good about making a woman cry. Please let that sink in.
The article’s 4th paragraph continues the attacks with: “To this day.. Microsoft ( via Stanford Professor David Dill ) controls the voting rights advocacy of Common Cause, Brennan Center, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, ACLU, NAACP, MoveOn, PFAW, PEW, and countless other smaller groups.” The posting finishes with a link to the same enemies list.
The Vast Microsoft Conspiracy
As evidenced by the claim “To this day.. Microsoft ( via Stanford Professor David Dill ) controls the voting rights advocacy …”, and countless other claims from Mr. Brent Turner, he apparently believes that there is a vast conspiracy between Microsoft, and a large network of election integrity advocates. We are all taking orders from Dr. Dill. If you look at the enemies list, the 3rd “AFFILIATION” column somehow links almost everybody with Dr. Dill, or the organization he co-founded, Verified Voting. One member of the list, upon learning of his inclusion, told me he did not even know who Dr. Dill was!, yet the AFFILIATION column links him to Dr. Dill. In the same vein, Mr. Brent Turner has often falsely smeared me as a “Microsoft shill”, a “Microsoft programmer”, and therefore a “fucking traitor”.
Let’s be perfectly clear. To this day, Mr. Brent Turner has utterly failed to provide one single shred of evidence of direct personal collusion between anybody in this “conspiracy”, and Microsoft. It is flagrant fiction. Also, I rarely communicate with Dr. Dill, and I do not take “orders” from him. I am a former employee of Digital Research, the first company to be screwed by Microsoft (in 1983). To accuse me of being a “Microsoft programmer” is not only a lie, it is grotesquely insulting.
In his enemies list announcement, Mr. Brent Turner states: “Greg Palast and other fundraising ” journalists” commonly write about uncounted ballots / front end disenfranchisement efforts / and a smattering of other side track issues.. but do not write about open source solution systems.. nor Microsoft’s corruption of the academics / activists / and the Government …”. In the “making a woman cry” posting, Mr. Brent Turner explains “To this day, The League of Women Voters nor any of the other groups have assisted our efforts toward appropriately secure elections.. as their corporate masters have fought to preserve the intellectual property status quo.” Translation – if you are not actively supporting CAVO and exactly their version of open source (GPL v3), you are an enemy of the people, a traitor. There will be more on this later …
CAVO Smoke & Mirrors
Mr. Brent Turner’s CAVO was formed on December 23, 2013. If you wanted to inform people of what the organization is about, you would call it something like the California Open Source Election System Consortium. But no, three of the four words in CAVO’s name – California, Association, and Officials, were deliberately lifted from the name of the official registrars’ association – the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, CACEO. CAVO’s indirectly posing as CACEO angered San Francisco supervisors when they received the following email from the former California Deputy Secretary of State. Below are the 4th & 5th paragraphs. The full text is [here].
Honorable Members of the Board of Supervisors,
The resolution before you … continues to tie San Francisco to an organization with serious credibility problems. First, the organization’s name is seriously misleading. The name, California Association of Voting Officials, was adopted when the organization had only a single California elections official as a member. Even today, CAVO’s website shows that only two of the seven board members are elections officials in California counties. None of the eleven Advisory Board members are California elections officials.
Second, CAVO’s website lists as its two “industry members” private voting system companies, one of which (SOE Software) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Spanish company Scytl. The primary focus of SOE Software and Follow My Vote, the other “industry member,” is the development and sale of voting systems in which ballots are cast over the Internet. Internet voting is widely viewed by computer security experts as vulnerable to tampering and privacy violations. There is no mention of Internet voting in the resolution, but red flags should go up concerning the long term plans CAVO and its corporate sponsors may have for San Francisco.
December 8, 2014
CAVO’s Fictitious “Endorsements”
If you look at cavo-us.org/participate.html, you will see a list of counties and organizations that CAVO claims as supporters. The screenshot below shows what the list looked like on December 23, 2014:
The State of Minnesota is crossed out in red, because I wrote their Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, about this apparent “endorsement” of CAVO. He responded in 10 minutes – at 2 AM Minnesota time. He told me he would take care of it that morning. Soon enough, Minnesota was off the list.
The “jurisdictions” list looked like this on November, 20 2017:
The problem is, at least seven California counties (crossed out in red), should not be on that list. A registrar started a poll within the CACEO elist, in April of 2017, asking the question “Do you all belong to CAVO?”. The results were as follows:
- Butte: “dropped out of CAVO” (April 27, 2017)
- Calaveras: “is not a member” (May 1, 2017)
- Del Norte: “does not….. I emailed and asked to be taken off the list” (April 26, 2917)
- Eldorado: “never joined the organization” (April 26, 2017)
- Merced: “does not belong to CAVO” (April 27, 2017)
- Mono: “Neither does Mono County” (April 27, 2017)
- Nevada: “does not belong to CAVO” (April 27, 2017)
On August 11, there was this commentary, from three small counties to the largest:
- Inyo: “I have asked them to remove Inyo County from the Organization in 2014 … I would suggest you all follow suite (sic).” (August 11, 2017) Note: Inyo county indeed does not appear on the 2017 list, but …
- Butte: “I had also asked to be removed for (sic) the Organization and I believe it was 2014, even though they kept my name and county on the list.” (Aug 11, 2017)
- Del Norte: “I have also asked for Del Norte to be removed multiple times. Del Norte has at no time had any association with this organization.” (Aug 11, 2017)
- Los Angeles: “My experience is that Mr. Turner frequently and repeatedly disparages L.A. County (and me personally) for our work on voting systems, and that, in general, he is divisive and confrontational. I do not see any benefit to a county joining the organization.” (Aug 11, 2017)
So, what we are seeing here in the November list – more than a half year after the April comments, is that the names of seven California counties are still on the list that clearly don’t belong there. The other nine counties listed did not say that they were CAVO members. This is how Mr. Brent Turner twists words; he claims that they were “founding jurisdictions”. But both Eldorado and Del Norte say that they were never involved with CAVO. At that point, his supporters list becomes a flagrant lie.
The SF Voting System Lie
On August 28, 2015, Mr. Brent Turner posted the following on his Facebook page:
What’s wrong with this? Look at the red box that I added. San Francisco does not vote on “classic Diebold systems.” It votes on Sequoia systems – and Mr. Brent Turner knows this. He has been attending meetings about SF election systems since at least 2005. There will have been scores of them where Sequoia was mentioned, not Diebold. He knows that writing that SF votes on “classic Diebold systems” is a lie. But he doesn’t care about facts. It’s important for you to understand this.
Please keep in mind, what you are reading here are but samples of Mr. Brent Turner’s behavior. What is more difficult to get across, is that there has been a constant stream of deception, lies, smears, insults and bullying over at least thirteen years. It is not going to go away.
Lie As Personal Smear
This next lie involves the deliberate smear of a very good man.
Delegate Igor Tregub works with James Soper and others against open source election systems. “I blocked a recent resolution because our donors have expressed concerns about open source software hurting their business model. I have to represent Microsoft and Oracle as they fund our candidates. The elections will take care of themselves” states Tregub.
The statement that “Igor Tregub works with James Soper” is false, as both of us will tell you. We talk at gatherings, but we do not “work together”. Mr. Brent Turner has no evidence to support this.
That I am “against open source election systems” is patently false.
Directly quoting Mr. Tregub as working in the interests of Microsoft and Oracle is a total fabrication. Mr. Tregub denies ever having said it, and the many people who know him will instantly spot this as a lie, a personal smear.
Mr. Brent Turner’s response was neither an apology, nor a denial, but a bullying “get a lawyer”.
The Death Threat
In February, 2007, Mr. Brent Turner and Mr. Brad Friedman had a heated exchange in a email group. It ended with Mr. Brent Turner threatening to murder Mr. Friedman. This was shortly after an astronaut was arrested for intending to murder someone. She was using astronaut diapers during the long drive from Texas to Florida.
From: Brent Turner [mailto:brent @ trealestate.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 3:47 PM
Subject: RE: moderate this
Brad- I’ll say this one time- Talk to Jim March-
If you keep fucking with me – It will be your demise – where are you right now ? I will be there
I don’t need astronaut diapers- I will be there soon
This was followed several hours later with this email:
Date: Feb 8, 2007 8:13 PM
Sir: Do you know the wherabouts (physically) of Brad Friedman ? I need his current address. There are pwople here looking for him with torches and gasoline. -they say he has committed war crimes against humanity by aiding and abetting vote fraud
Thanks for your help ,
For those who don’t get it, “It will be your demise”, “torches and gasoline”, “war crimes” and asking for Mr. Friedman’s current address mean this is not joke. It’s a real death threat.
The Bullying Voicemail
Here is Mr. Brent Turner in his own voice. On January 11, 2008, blogger Dave Berman wrote an article about recounts. Very late that night, Mr. Brent Turner left an abusive voicemail. Note: You may have to click twice to get to the Facebook page.
A transcript is below:
January 12th, 2:32AM
Hey Berman….I’m not having a fucking great day you stupid prick … Brent Turner calling.
Just let’n you know you can record this message and send it off to all your buddies... Brad Friedman, David Dill, whoever the fuck you’re working for.
Just let me tell ya, you’re ??? least shit ??? Stand down and don’t put up a fight in New Hampshire. Don’t get into a recount because you’re a fucking scarehole prick.
You and all your fucking asshole people that raise money off the backs of the oppressed… You can all go and fuck yourselves.
Hey put this on your goddam message machine you asshole.
No democracy advocate deserves this kind of bullying.
Too Abusive For The Progressive Caucus
The Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party has over 1000 members. It also has a 500+ member online forum. A few members can get very offensive, and write insults and lies about other members. The caucus has developed a set of “Interim List-Posting Protocols” to deal with this problem. These include limits on: personal attacks, cyber-bullying, unsubstantiated falsehoods, and over-posting. They also include a system of three strikes which include a one week timeout, a two week time out, and, with the 3rd strike, “permanent” moderation. You really have to be offensive and abusive to get even one strike. To my knowledge, only one person in the entire caucus as earned a strike since the new rules were approved of by vote of the caucus on May 20, 2017: Mr. Brent Turner. On November 10, 2017, he struck out, and is now on “permanent” moderation. On November 18, 2017, the caucus, understanding that this may not be enough, voted approval of a new, extraordinary rule that would allow for outright banning. I call this the Turner rule. Other members have learned to tone down their postings. Not Mr. Brent Turner. He keeps on lying, insulting people, and accumulating enemies and strikes.
That Mr. Brent Turner is too offensive and abusive for even this raucous caucus speaks volumes about his character and personality. Please keep that in mind as you read other sections of this report.
Bullying Young Democrats
Mr. Brent Turner has been serving as an “advisor” to Mr. Ruben Major’s campaign for California Secretary of State as a democrat. On November 12, 2017, the California Young Democrats (CYD) endorsed with a 55 to 12 the candidacy of the current Secretary of State, Mr. Alex Padilla. The Ruben campaign issued a forty page challenge to that endorsement. The Executive Board of CYD wrote a response. In it, they write:
First and foremost, your complaint is littered with serious inaccuracies that we cannot ignore and some of these statements border on libel. …
More specifically, the allegation that we changed the voting process and that such a change should have been noticed has no basis in fact. …
Additionally, it is of paramount importance that we address the most toxic allegation that you have alleged in your complaint. You have alleged that one of our officers communicated to Brent Turner that in order to be considered for endorsement, candidates had to pay $1,500. We dispute this accusation in the strongest of terms. Various officers have explained this to you and Brent Turner multiple times. …
It is our unanimous belief that this was a clear misunderstanding or miscommunication between two individuals. The fact that you have spun this misunderstanding in spite of the fact that numerous individuals have tirelessly and consistently clarified it for you gives us the distinct impression that your campaign is placing this complaint in print with the sole political intent to discredit and harm CYD. …
it is our sincere belief that a candidate for a constitutional office in the state of California should have better things to do than attempt to discredit or silence the voice of young voters in this state.
Without going into the details of this dispute, we can observe the re-emergence of a pattern of behavior of using “serious inaccuracies”, “libel”, “no basis in fact”, “toxic allegation”, and “spun this misunderstanding” … ” with the sole political intent to discredit or harm the CYD.” The latter is also called bullying. We have often seen Mr. Brent Turner in attack mode. It’s nothing new. The problem here is that having already angered the leadership of the Progressive Caucus, Mr. Brent Turner has now clearly angered the Executive Board of the California Young Democrats. When Mr. Major’s political campaign is trying to pick up as much support as possible, turning influential people into outright enemies is counterproductive.
PS: On May 26, Mr. Turner announced that “Had to resort to a blank ballot “NONE OF THE ABOVE ” for CA SEC OF STATE”. No explanation why he dropped his support for Mr. Major.
Smearing the Bay Area Women’s March
On January 22, 2018, he accused the Bay Area Womens March of taking orders from Microsoft.
Brent Turner: “Yes- I participated in the Women’s March even though I knew Microsoft made them cut election reform from the program.”
Nathaniel Fowler: “Do you have a link on that?”
Brent Turner: “Brent Turner No link .. just inside skinny ha ha”
Gopi Mattel: “Kelly Yamanishi Agreed. My point is that given the fractiousness, the possibility that they are all conforming to a single outside entity’s instructions seems very unreasonable.”
Brent Turner: “Gopi Mattel- Microsoft made the call to make sure there were no people from the open source voting movement allowed — Sad- shocking- but true”
Gopi Mattel: “I just dont see women leading the movement, just going, ‘Oh Microsoft called. we better stop allowing those open source people’. They are already rebelling against authority. The last thing they will accept is one more authority telling them what to do. That is not how humans operate.”
Brent Turner: “It was a conference call with leadership. It happened. Not debatable. I tried to stress the importance of counting the votes accurately with proper security. Microsoft prevailed and excluded us.”
Jenny Higgins Bradanini: “Debate it .. this did not happen I am the President of Womens March Bay Area and I don’t appreciate untruths . I personally support Brent and his work but not going to let untruths be said. Microsoft did not ask anything of the sort of us. I am sure they do not like Brent but they have never approached us on the Bay Area and the national group has never said anything about it to me at anytime”
Jenny Higgins Bradanini: “Brent Turner I totally support you but that isn’t true at all. Nobody from Microsoft or national called me ..we intentionally picked only women speakers this year” who are doing the work in our community. The advisory committee in San Jose could ask anyone we want nobody tells us what to do in the Bay Area.”
Jenny Higgins Bradanini: “I will make it clear again I am the president of Women’s March Bay Area and we can have anyone we want speak at any of our events . Period . I am in contact with every state leader and NOBODY was told we can’t have anyone speak on any matter including open source or if they were threatened by Microsoft. We are independent from national group . They can not tell me what i can do or do not in the Bay Area . I have asked every CA lead and they have no idea what I was talking about when asked if they were told not to not have anyone speak about open source voting actually Palm Springs did have someone. I emailed Bob bland and Tamika Mallory because this was upsetting to me and both said it was ridiculous. You maybe mad that there was not a speaker included but there was NO direction or call to ANYONE about this. Brent I can have anyone I want speak…. Mickey Mouse or Trump but we intentionally decided on the ones who spoke on Saturday. Thank you for supporting the March but I will not allow you to paint a picture of conspiracy within Womens March. It’s not true. You know I support your work but this is making me doubt your integrity. Post the names of this so called Leadership you spoke with? It doesn’t work like that anyway WM is not a top down organization.”
For good measure, Mr. Turner took another Microsoft shot at the Womens March on September 4, 2018: not under the corporate confines of the ” Women’s March “
Note: As usual, at no point has Mr. Turner he provided any details about this “call”: when, with whom, exact statements, etc, because it did not happen. What he did succeed in doing is falsely attacking and alienating the leadership of yet another important group. Attacking groups is entirely consistent with Mr. Brent Turner’s previous behavior. He names 32 groups in the enemies list he published. He turns potential allies into enemies. Mr. Brent Turner’s enemies list names 127 people who were not previously his enemies. Make that 128. He is his own worst enemy. He just doesn’t realize it.
After at least thirteen years of trying, Mr. Turner has failed to raise significant funds for the development of open source election systems. Ultimately, concocting a fantasy conspiracy serves as a convenient excuse to explain away both to the public, and to himself, why he has failed, which he has.
It is not my intention at this time to start a social media campaign about Mr. Brent Turner. He is not worth the time and effort. Nevertheless, many advocates have asked me to write up an exposé so that people can get the full story. So here it is. The truth. It’s public. I cannot object if others refer people to http://BrentTurner.exposed, especially when he attacks them. If Mr. Brent Turner chooses to escalate his attacks on the advocate community, then all bets are off. I hope that does not happen.