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Forum Post: Does the Romney Family Now Own Your e-Vote?

Posted 1 year ago on Oct. 19, 2012, 4:16 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5854)
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Does the Romney Family Now Own Your e-Vote?

Friday, 19 October 2012 09:12 By Gerry Bello, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Free Press | Report

http://truth-out.org/news/item/12204-does-the-romney-family-now-own-your-e-vote

Will you cast your vote this fall on a faulty electronic machine that's partly owned by the Romney Family? Will that machine decide whether Romney will then inherit the White House?

Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States.

In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who "owns" the White House.

They are especially crucial in Ohio, without which no Republican candidate has ever won the White House. In 2004, in the dead of election night, an electronic swing of more than 300,000 votes switched Ohio from the John Kerry column to George W. Bush, giving him a second term. A virtual statistical impossibility, the 6-plus% shift occurred between 12:20 and 2am election night as votes were being tallied by a GOP-controlled information technology firm on servers in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In defiance of a federal injunction, 56 of Ohio's 88 counties destroyed all election records, making a recount impossible. Ohio's governor and secretary of state in 2004 were both Republicans, as are the governors and secretaries of state in nine key swing states this year.

As we have previously reported, H.I.G. Capital has on its board of directors at least three close associates of the Romney family. H.I.G. Capital directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers. So is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. Fully a third of H.I.G.'s leadership previously worked at Romney's old Bain firm.

But new research now shows that the association doesn't stop with mere friendship and business associations. Mitt Romney, his wife Ann Romney, and their son Tagg Romney are also invested in H.I.G. Capital, as is Mitt's brother G. Scott Romney.

The investment comes in part through the privately held family equity firm called Solamere, which bears the name of the posh Utah ski community where the Romney family retreats to slide down the slopes.

Unlike other private equity firms, Solamere does not invest in companies directly. Instead, Solamere invests in other private equity funds, like H.I.G. Capital. Solamere calls them partners. These partners, like H.I.G., then invest in various enterprises, like Hart Intercivic, the nation's third-largest voting machine manufacturer. As reported by Lee Fang of The Nation, Solamere was founded by Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, Papa Romney's campaign finance chair. Ann Romney and Mitt's brother G. Scott Romney are also invested. Mitt himself threw in $10 million "seed money" to get the fund going, and spoke personally to its first full investors conference. Solamere's public web presence has been reduced to a front page only, so a complete list of it's partners can not be found. But reportage by the New York Times, Boston Globe, Esquire and the Nation have slowly given us a partial picture of which funds are being funded by Solamere. Some $232 million has been raised so far, according to SEC filings and industry publications.

In addition to Romney's finance chair Spencer Zwick, Solamere has also provided the campaign with its finance director, Richard Morley, and a western regional finance coordinator, Kaitlin O'Reilly. O'Reilly is listed as an executive assistant at Solamere, and also at SJZ LLC, which was founded by her boss Spencer Zwick. The SJZ LLC campaign finance consulting firm has billed Mitt's campaign over $2 million this election cycle as well as doing another $9,687,582 in billing to various Congressional Campaigns. The host of the private fundraiser at which Romney made his infamous "47%" speech was Marc J. Leder, co-CEO of Sun Capital, another "partner" of the Solamere fund.

As in virtually every close presidential race, Ohio may well hold the key to the Electoral College decision as to who will become the nation's next chief executive. The presence of Hart Intercivic machines in Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, means there is a high likelihood the votes that will decide the presidency will be cast on them. Major media like CBS have begun reporting that Cincinnati could be "ground zero" in this year's election.

But these Hart machines are deeply flawed and widely know to be open to a troubling variety of attacks and breakdowns. There is no legal or other means to definitively monitor and re-check a tally compiled on Hart or other electronic voting machines. Ohio's current governor and secretary of state are both Republicans.

Does this mean the Romney investment in Hart Intercivic through H.I.G. Capital and Solamere will yield it not only financial profits but the White House itself?

Tune in during the deep night of November 7, when the electronic votes in swing state Ohio are once again opaquely reported to the nation and the world, without meaningful public scrutiny or legal recourse.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

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America's Media Just Made Vote-Rigging Easier

Friday, 19 October 2012 10:15 By Victoria Collier, Truthout | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/12213-americas-media-just-made-vote-rigging-easier

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Getting Elections Right in Venezuela and the US

Friday, 19 October 2012 00:00 By Antonio Gonzalez , Truthout | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12192-getting-elections-right-in-venezuela-and-the-us

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4 Comments


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[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (20483) 1 year ago

Good grief. Insanity.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 1 year ago

"If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines"
by Thom Hartmann

Maybe Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel honestly won two US Senate elections. Maybe it's true that the citizens of Georgia simply decided that incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland,
a wildly popular war veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was, as his successful Republican challenger suggested in his campaign ads, too unpatriotic to remain in the Senate. Maybe George W. Bush, Alabama's new Republican governor Bob Riley, and a small but congressionally decisive handful of other long-shot Republican candidates really did win those states where conventional wisdom and straw polls showed them losing in the last few election cycles.

Perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the sudden rise of inaccurate exit polls happened around the same time corporate-programmed, computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines began recording and tabulating ballots. But if any of this is true, there's not much of a paper trail from the voters' hand to prove it.

You'd think in an open democracy that the government - answerable to all its citizens rather than a handful of corporate officers and stockholders - would program, repair, and control the voting machines & the computers that handle our cherished ballots would be open and their software and programming available for public scrutiny & there would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts.

You'd be wrong.

The respected Washington, DC publication The Hill (www.thehill.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx) has confirmed that former conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by Nebraska.

Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris of www.blackboxvoting.org, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.

Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his hagel.senate.gov website says, Hagel "was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska."

What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.

In Georgia, Democratic incumbent and war-hero Max Cleland was defeated by Saxby Chambliss, who'd avoided service in Vietnam with a "medical deferment" but ran his campaign on the theme that he was more patriotic than Cleland. While many in Georgia expected a big win by Cleland, the computerized voting machines said that Chambliss had won.

The BBC summed up Georgia voters' reaction in a 6 November 2002 headline: "GEORGIA UPSET STUNS DEMOCRATS." The BBC echoed the confusion of many Georgia voters when they wrote, "Mr. Cleland - an army veteran who lost three limbs in a grenade explosion during the Vietnam War - had long been considered 'untouchable' on questions of defense and national security."

Between them, Hagel and Chambliss' victories sealed Republican control of the Senate. Odds are both won fair and square, the American way, using huge piles of corporate money to carpet-bomb voters with television advertising. But either the appearance or the possibility of impropriety in an election casts a shadow over American democracy.

"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected," wrote Thomas Paine over 200 years ago. "To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery.."

That slavery, according to Hagel's last opponent Charlie Matulka, is at our doorstep. "They can take over our country without firing a shot," Matulka said, "just by taking over our election systems."
Taking over our election systems? Is that really possible in the USA?

Bev Harris of www.talion.com and www.blackboxvoting.org has looked into the situation in depth and thinks Matulka may be on to something. The company tied to Hagel even threatened her with legal action when she went public about his company having built the machines that counted his landslide votes. (Her response was to put the law firm's threat letter on her website and send a press release to 4000 editors, inviting them to check it out.

"I suspect they're getting ready to do this all across all the states," Matulka said in a January 30, 2003 interview. "God help us if Bush gets his touch screens all across the country," he added, "because they leave no paper trail. These corporations are taking over America, and they just about have control of our voting machines."

In the meantime, exit-polling organizations have quietly gone out of business, and the news arms of the huge multinational corporations that own our networks are suggesting the days of exit polls are over. Virtually none were reported in 2002, creating an odd and unsettling silence that caused unease for the many American voters who had come to view exit polls as proof of the integrity of their election systems.

As all this comes to light, many citizens and even a few politicians are wondering if it's a good idea for corporations to be so involved in the guts of our voting systems. The whole idea of a democratic republic was to create a common institution (the government itself) owned by its citizens, answerable to its citizens, and authorized to exist and continue existing solely "by the consent of the governed."

Prior to 1886 - when, law schools incorrectly tell law students, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are "persons" with equal protection and other "human rights" - it was illegal in most states for corporations to involve themselves in politics at all, much less to service the core mechanism of politics. And during the era of Republican Teddy Roosevelt, who said, "There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains," numerous additional laws were passed to restrain corporations from involvement in politics.

Wisconsin, for example, had a law that explicitly stated:

"No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office."

The penalty for violating that law was dissolution of the corporation, and "any officer, employee, agent or attorney or other representative of any corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation" would be subject to "imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor more than five years" and a substantial fine.

However, the recent political trend has moved us in the opposite direction, with governments answerable to "We, The People" turning over administration of our commons to corporations answerable only to CEOs, boards, and stockholders. The result is the enrichment of corporations and the appearance that democracy in America has started to resemble its parody in banana republics.

But if America still is a democratic republic, then We, The People still own our government. And the way our ownership and management of our common government (and its assets) is asserted is through the vote.

On most levels, privatization is only a "small sin" against democracy. Turning a nation's or community's water, septic, roadway, prisons, airwaves, or health care commons over to private corporations has so far demonstrably degraded the quality of life for average citizens and enriched a few of the most powerful campaign contributors. But it hasn't been the end of democracy (although some wonder about what the FCC is preparing to do - but that's a separate story).

Many citizens believe, however, that turning the programming and maintenance of voting over to private, for-profit corporations, answerable only to their owners, officers, and stockholders, puts democracy itself at peril.

And, argues Charlie Matulka, for a former officer of one of those corporations to then place himself into an election without disclosing such an apparent conflict of interest is to create a parody of democracy.

Perhaps Matulka's been reading too many conspiracy theory tracts. Or maybe he's on to something. We won't know until a truly independent government agency looks into the matter.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 1 year ago

really were going to this theory already