Author’s Note: This article should not be interpreted as favoring one candidate over another or as suggesting that there is any difference between the two – only as making an attempt to present concerns regarding potential election fraud in Ohio that may influence the Presidential election.
Amidst the farcical election fury being hyped and circulated by the mainstream media, political pundits are already hailing Ohio as a battleground state. After all, with statistics showing that no Republican President since JFK in 1960 has ever been elected to the position without receiving Ohio’s electoral votes, this can hardly be denied.
Without waxing too hard on Ohio, it is clear that the state, as it is in every Presidential election, is one of the important ones.
This is precisely why the Romney-backed voting machines which are going to be in place in at least two Ohio counties this election day is so concerning.
Essentially, via the family equity fund Solamere and its filtered investments in H.I.G. Capital, both the Romney family and campaign hold a serious share and connection to three out of 5 board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that itself owns the voting machines to be used at select locations like Hamilton County (Cincinnati) in Ohio, as well as other locations across the country. It should be noted that the Hart Intercivic machines are notorious for their malfunctions.
As previously stated, the initial source of connection between the Romney faction and the Hart Intercivic machines begins with the family equity fund known as Solamere, which coincidentally bears the name of the wealthy Utah ski resort frequented by the Romney family.
As Lee Fang of The Nation reports, the Solamere fund was founded by Mitt’s son, Tagg Romney as well as Mitt’s campaign finance chair, Spencer Zwick. Both Mitt’s wife, Ann, and his brother, G. Scott, are also invested in the fund. Obviously, Mitt Romney himself has contributed some money of his own, $10 million to be exact, as “seed money,” even personally speaking at the fund’s first full investors conference.
It should also be noted that Romney’s western regional finance coordinator, Kaitlin O’Reilly, and his finance director, Richard Morley, have both come from Solamere’s roster with O’Reilly being listed as an executive assistant at the equity fund.
O’Reilly is also listed as an executive assistant at SJZ LLC, a campaign finance consulting firm founded by her boss and fellow founder of Solamere as well as Romney campaign finance chair Spencer Zwick. As Truthout mentions, SJZ LLC has billed the Romney campaign over $2 million for its services in his presidential run. Also bearing notice is the fact that the firm has billed around $9,687,582 to other Congressional campaigns.
One more individual deserving dishonorable mention is Marc J. Leder, the host of the private fundraiser where Mitt made his now infamous “47%” remarks. Leder is the co-CEO of Sun Capital, another “partner” of Solamere.
Unfortunately, Solamere’s website has been reduced to a single front page, making it that much more difficult to discover the rest of the fund’s “partners.” However, some rare but real reporting is beginning to aid in the piecing together of the puzzle.
It is important to understand that Solamere is different from other private equity firms in that it does not make investments in companies directly. Instead, the fund invests with other funds, which it calls partners, and then directs the investments from there.
One of these co-called partners with the Solamere fund is H.I.G. Capital, the fund used to invest in the third largest voting machine manufacturer in the nation.
As reported by Truthout.org, H.I.G. Capital maintains at least three close associates of the Romney family on its board of directors. Furthermore, Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are both major Romney supporters and fundraisers. Likewise for the H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.
Even more interesting is that nearly one third of H.I.G.’s leadership personnel have previously worked at Romney’s Bain Capital firm of asset stripping fame. To date, approximately $338,000 have been raised for Romney’s campaign by H.I.G. employees.
The make-up and the Romney-related investment connections of H.I.G. are relevant in regards to their subsequent relationship to Hart Intercivic, the company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines mentioned earlier.
Indeed, H.I.G. is a major investor in Hart Intercivic, and an indirect connection to the Romney family via Solamere, the family’s equity fund. With this in mind, one must wonder whether or not the indirect connection between the Romney clan and Hart Intercivic is not more direct than meets the eye. After all, the fund itself does not invest directly in companies, but in other equity funds; perhaps a design to further the distance between one’s family and the perception of impropriety.
With the media already hyping the possibility that Ohio, and Cincinnati in particular, could be “ground zero” in the 2012 Presidential election, the fact that Hart Intercivic’s voting machines are present in Hamilton County (home to Cincinnati) should raise some serious concerns.
As Bello, Fitrakis, and Wasserman write for TruthOut:
. . . these Hart machines are deeply flawed and widely known 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.
US courts have consistently ruled that the software in electronic voting machines is proprietary to the manufacturer, even though individual election boards may own the actual machines. Thus there will be no vote count transparency on election night in Ohio. The tally will be conducted by Hart Intercivic and controlled by Husted and Kasich, with no public recourse or accountability. As federal testimony from the deceased Michael Connell made clear in 2008, electronically flipping an election is relatively cheap and easy to do, especially if you or your compatriots programmed the machines.
However, the Daily Kos reports that influencing the election via Hart Intercivic’s machines might be a bit easier than simply reprogramming, preprogramming, or hacking voting machine codes. The article reads:
But, before people get carried away with scenarios of stolen elections using dodgy computer code, let me point out that it would be quite easy to ‘influence’ an election without all that much effort. All one has to do is control machine deployment. If the number of ‘functional’ machines were to become in short supply on election day, and if the ‘malfunctioning’ machines tended to be in key precincts, it would certainly be possible to affect an election, possibly decisively.
Such a scheme is far safer than actual screwing with the code, since, despite what you read online, is not as easy as some would have you believe without leaving evidence of tampering. No, machine failure is far easier to manage (and is a simple variation of vote suppression being perpetrated in states right now) especially as the code in these machines are the software equivalent of the Ford Pinto.
Election fraud, often misleadingly referred to as voter fraud, has run rampant in virtually every Presidential election in modern history in one form or another, with results varying in scale. The 2000 “election” of George W. Bush will, of course, live on in infamy in the context of election history.
However, in terms of Ohio votes, specifically, the 2004 elections that saw Bush victorious over Kerry bear a striking similarity to the possibilities discussed above regarding the 2012 elections. Again, as TruthOut summarizes:
The widespread use of electronic voting machines from ES&S, and of Diebold software maintained by Triad, allowed Blackwell [then Ohio Secretary of State] to electronically flip a 4% Kerry lead to a 2% Bush victory in the dead of election night. ES&S, Diebold and Triad were all owned or operated by Republican partisans. The shift of more than 300,000 votes after 12:20 am election night was a virtual statistical impossibility. It was engineered by Michael Connell, an IT specialist long affiliated with the Bush Family. Blackwell gave Connell’s Ohio-based GovTech the contract to count Ohio’s votes, which was done on servers housed in the Old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thus the Ohio vote tally was done on servers that also carried the e-mail for Karl Rove and the national Republican Party. Connell died in a mysterious plane crash in December, 2008, after being subpoenaed in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit focused on how the 2004 election was decided (disclosure: we were attorney and plaintiff in that suit).
Diebold’s founder, Walden O’Dell, had vowed to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes—and thus the presidency—to his friend George W. Bush. That it was done in part on electronic voting machines and software O’Dell happened to own (Diebold has since changed hands twice) remains a cautionary red flag for those who believe merely winning the popular vote will give Barack Obama a second term.
In a flashback to the 2004 election, many Ohioans will once again go to the polls and cast their ballots on machines with close ownership ties to the Republican candidate. Also as in 2004, the Ohio Governor is a Republican, this time the fascist John Kasich who, according to TruthOut, is a millionaire via his work at Lehman Brothers and Fox News Network.
Truthout highlights that “Murdoch wrote Kasich a game-changing $1 million check just prior to his winning the statehouse, an electoral victory shrouded in electronic intrigue. The exit polls in that election indicated that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland, had actually won the popular vote.”
Furthermore, the Ohio Secretary of State is also a reactionary Republican who is currently suing in the US Supreme Court to put a stop to voting on the weekend prior to election day. Like Blackwell and Taft in 2004, Husted and Kasich will wield significant control over the vote count in Ohio in 2012 which itself is largely free of true accountability and transparency.
While, in all actuality, there is absolutely no difference between the two Presidential candidates (another flashback to previous elections), the issue of election fraud is entirely separate from the platform of glorified puppets. Aside from the legal and moral issue, the general rule of thumb is that you should never allow an oligarch to attack you on his own time. Thus, exposing any amount of election fraud is paramount. At the same time, however, we must be diligent in our refusal to endorse the controlled opposition given to us by the same oligarchy that controls the victor.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 175 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.