DENVER (Legal Newsline) — Platte River Networks, email contractor for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, has never managed information any more than a car salesman fixes cars.
Although news reports classify its purpose as management, administration or maintenance, Platte River Networks acts as a simple broker, according to court records.
Procurement officer Michael Moore testified in a deposition for a local case that, “We qualify a company’s needs and then look for the best provider for those.”
Platte River Networks forbids contact between its customers and the companies actually doing the work, inserting itself between them as a sort of interpreter.
Senior consultant Jeff Stegeman testified in the same case that, “We see no need to confuse them (customers) about things that they are really not going to understand.”
Moore identifies himself online as a former automotive technician, and Stegeman identifies himself as a former sports writer for the daily Denver Post.
The business trumpets successes and connections on Facebook, but doesn’t mention work for the Clinton Executive Services Corp.
A photo of employees shows about 30. A timeline shows Platte River Networks moved to “new space” of 12,000 square feet last year.
Its warehouse is on a wide highway in a zone of railroads and industry.
The company’s reputation faded when employees Paul Combetta and Bill Thornton refused to testify before a Congressional committee on Sept. 6.
Datto Inc., the Connecticut firm that Platte River Networks hired to serve the email server of the Clintons, also refuses to cooperate with Congress.
The Justice Department immunized Combetta, who tried to delete messages with a product by the name of Bleach Bit.
After he and Thornton refused to testify, Platte River Networks issued a statement that it didn’t treat the Clinton server differently from any other client.
“We maintain all security precautions were in place, and continued to be so, throughout our service to said client,” the statement read.
Google has posted 31 reviews since then, without one positive word.
Many critics recommended Platte River Networks with tongue-in-cheek statements, praising its assistance in covering up its own mistakes.
One wrote that they were so sloppy that the entire country knows what happened.
Writers on websites expressed amazement that Combetta solicited advice on email deletion through Reddit, a popular forum for computer users.
Paul Murphy of American Thinker wrote that Combetta demonstrated intent to deceive when he didn’t ask technical people in his company how to erase email.
Murphy wrote that if Combetta had done so, or had he chosen a Wintel forum instead of a gossip site, he would have received actionable answers in minutes.
“We can probably conclude that he was either not technically plugged in or afraid to raise the question among people who might get interested in his reason for asking,” Murphy wrote.
True Pundit wrote that Combetta’s query on Reddit opened a door to the coveted IP address of the Clintons by publishing pings to the box.
The dispute in court that required depositions of Moore and Stegeman might not inspire confidence in Platte River Networks either.
Local insurance broker Cambridge Group started the chain of events in March 2014, by deciding to fire local communication provider T2 Technologies.
Cambridge Group hired Platte River Networks, which arranged to transfer its service to Windstream Communications of Little Rock, Arkansas. Cambridge Group used 16 telephone numbers and wished to keep them.
Windstream submitted a request to the owner of the numbers, XO Communications Services, to port the numbers from T2 to Windstream.
The request carried the correct 16 numbers, but it also incorrectly carried 390 numbers that XO and T2 had assigned to other customers.
Execution of the switch disconnected the 390 wrong numbers, including the White House military operations support desk, hospitals and T2’s main line.
T2 contacted Windstream, and Windstream contacted XO. XO restored service, though a dispute remains over how many days it took.
T2 sued Windstream in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in November 2014, claiming at least $360,000 in damages including losses of customers and profits.
T2 counsel Michael Glaser of Denver claimed Windstream intentionally broke federal slamming law and used the numbers for marketing purposes.
Windstream sued Platte River Networks for contribution as third-party defendant last year, claiming it confirmed the accuracy of the port list.
Windstream alleged negligence and breach of implied contract against Platte River Networks under Colorado law.
Windstream moved for summary judgment against Platte River Networks this March, arguing that it justifiably relied on misrepresentations because Platte River Networks prohibited it from contacting Cambridge Group.
For Windstream, attorney Mia Della Cava of Denver claimed Moore confirmed that the list was correct, “despite the fact that he noticed that the port list was incorrect.”
Della Cava wrote that Platte River Networks allegedly shirked its responsibility and tried to blame someone upstream in the process.
“Windstream would have no way of knowing whether the numbers were associated with Cambridge, because Platte River Networks erected a road block to stop Windstream from contacting Cambridge,” Della Cava wrote.
Della Cava wrote that Platte River Networks alone was responsible for scrubbing the order and verifying the list, “especially given the fact that Windstream was clearly seeking guidance from Platte River Networks on these issues.”
Meanwhile, Windstream disputed an opinion from T2’s expert on damages.
Judge Marcia Krieger set a hearing on the opinion this July 18, and Della Cava rounded up witnesses for it. When Krieger saw the witnesses in her court, she chased them out.
Krieger told Della Cava, “Assumed facts are generally not challenged. We test those facts at trial.”
The judge asked Della Cava if she challenged a list in the report.
Della Cava said yes, and Krieger said, “You’ll wait for trial on that.”
Krieger said the opinion had an adequate foundation, and whether she admitted it would depend on other rules of evidence.
She asked Glaser why he didn’t claim negligence. He said he didn’t feel it was appropriate because Federal Communications Commission rules were primary.
“They are liable whether they are negligent or not,” Glaser said.
Krieger asked, “What is the value of the phone number?”
“Immeasurable,” Glaser said.
Krieger said the amount in the expert’s opinion, $284,000, didn’t justify going to trial. “This is business,” she barked.
The judge said there are costs, and she raised an arm. She said there are benefits, and she raised the other arm.
“They have to cross,” she said, and crossed her arms. “I don’t know when but I suspect before trial.”
Krieger said there were various theories all seeking the same result.
The judge said the claim on Platte River Networks was essentially indemnification.
Then she smiled and said, “Frankly there are some really interesting legal issues.”
Glaser said, “In my judgment this case should have been settled a long time ago.”
Krieger said that if they didn’t settle, she would hold trial early next year.
On Sept. 26, she found T2 sufficiently pleaded that Windstream didn’t execute the change in accordance with verification procedures.
Krieger granted summary judgment to Windstream on T2’s claim that it took the numbers for marketing purposes.
The judge then ruled that T2 could claim conversion of numbers it kept for itself, but could not claim it on behalf of its subscribers.
She set a pretrial conference for Dec. 15.