Rick Ungar, Contributor
Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could
Decide The Election Causing Concern
WITH THE PAINFULLY close presidential election now down to who wins
the battleground state of Ohio, no network dares to call the race and
risk repeating the mistakes of 2000 when a few networks jumped the gun
on picking a winner.
As the magic boards used by the networks go ‘up close and personal’ on
every county in the Buckeye State, word begins to circulate that there
might be a snafu with some electronic voting machines in a number of
Cincinnati based precincts. There have already been complaints that
broken machines were not being quickly replaced in precincts that tend
to lean Democratic and now, word is coming in that there may be some
The network political departments get busy and, in short order,
discover that the machines used in Hamilton County, Ohio—the county
home of Cincinnati— are supplied by Hart Intercivic, a national
provider of voting systems in use in a wide variety of counties
scattered throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado
A quick Internet search reveals that there may be reason for concern.
A test conducted in 2007 by the Ohio Secretary of State revealed that
five of the electronic voting systems the state was looking to use in
the upcoming 2008 presidential election had failed badly, each easily
susceptible to chicanery that could alter the results of an election.
As reported in the New York Times, “At polling stations, teams working
on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use
hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards
of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into
We learn that one of the companies whose machines had failed was none
other than Hart Intercivic.
With television time to fill and no ability to declare a winner so
that the long night’s broadcast can be brought to a close, the staffs
keep digging for relevant information to keep the attention of their
viewers—and that is when it gets very real.
It turns out that Hart Intercivic is owned, in large part, by H.I.G.
Capital—a large investment fund with billions of dollars under
management—that was founded by a fellow named Tony Tamer. While is is
unclear just how much H.I.G. owns of Hart Intercivic, we do learn that
H.I.G. employees hold at least two of the five Hart Intercivic board
A little more digging turns up a few tidbits of data than soon become
Tony Tamer, H.I.G.’s founder, turns out to be a major bundler for the
Mitt Romney campaign, along with three other directors of H.I.G. who
are also big-time money raisers for Romney.
Indeed, as fate would have it, two of those directors—Douglas Berman
and Brian Schwartz— were actually in attendance at the now infamous
“47 percent” fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida.
With that news, voters everywhere start to get this queasy feeling in
the pits of their stomach.
But wait—if you’re feeling a bit ill now, you’ll want to get the
anti-acids ready to go because it’s about get really strange.
To everyone’s amazement, we learn that two members of the Hart
Intercivic board of directors, Neil Tuch and Jeff Bohl, have made
direct contributions to the Romney campaign. This, despite the fact
that they represent 40 percent of the full board of directors of a
company whose independent, disinterested and studiously non-partisan
status in any election taking place on their voting machines would
seemingly be a ‘no brainer’.
To Mr. Bohl’s credit, after giving a total of $4,000 to “Romney For
President”, it must have occurred to him that it might not look so
good for a board member of a company whose voting machines are to be a
part of the presidential election to be playing favorites—so he gave
$250 to Barack Obama to sort of balance the scales.
Mr. Tuch? Not so much.
Interestingly, Mr. Bohl lists himself as an investor at H.I.G. Capital
for his Romney contributions but his far smaller donation to Obama was
done as “Jeff Bohl, self-employed innkeeper”.
And finally, we learn that H.I.G. is the 11th largest of all the
contributors to the Romney effort.
Did I say “finally”? My bad…because there is, indeed, more.
Can you guess who is reported to have a financial relationship with
Numerous media sources, including Truthout, are reporting that
Solamere Capital—the investment firm run by Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg,
and the home of money put into the closely held firm by Tagg’s uncle
Scott, mother Anne and, of course, the dad who might just be the next
President of the United States—depending upon how the vote count turns
out, in our little tale, in the State of Ohio—have shared business
interests with H.I.G. either directly or via Solamere Advisors which
is owned, in part, by Solamere Capital, including a reported
investment in H.I.G. by either Solamere Capital or Solamere Advisors.
Lee Fang, in his piece for The Nation exploring the government related
activities of various companies in which Solamere has an interest
“Meanwhile, HIG Capital—one of the largest Solamere partners, with
nearly $10 billion of equity capital—owns a number of other firms that
are closely monitoring the federal government. ”
While the Cincinnati scenario is —at this point—fiction, the rest of
this story is all too true, including the part where the voting
machines to be used in Hamilton County will be those provided by Hart
And while I am not suggesting conspiracies or that anyone would get
involved in any foul play here, most particularly the GOP candidate
for President, how is it possible that so many people could exercise
so much bad judgment?
The sanctity of voting in America is supposed to be one of our most
important virtues. So concerned are we with a ‘clean’ process that
James O’Keefe has made a career entrapping, video taping and
destroying those sympathetic to Democratic Party candidates and causes
who cross the line when it comes to the voting process. And that’s
just fine. If Mr. O’Keefe can legitimately expose someone engaging in
voter fraud, he most certainly should call them out.
So, why would these individuals who serve on the board of directors of
Hart Intercivic go out of their way to make a contribution to any
political candidate given the critical importance of their company
remaining above reproach when it comes to the political process? And
why would those who run the company that owns Hart Intercivic be
giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political candidate? And
why would a political candidate and his family have a financial
relationship with a company that owns a chunk of the voting machine
company that will be counting the actual votes given to that political
candidate or his opponent?
Keith Olbermann was suspended from his job at MSNBC for donating a
couple hundred bucks to a local candidate that was a friend of his.
Why? Because his employer required that journalists at the network
stay free of having given such contributions to any candidate for all
the obvious reasons.
Is it really too much to ask that those who control the voting
machines that record and count the votes of our elections be held to
at least the same standard?
Hopefully, everything will go swimmingly in Cincinnati on Election
Day. And, if it doesn’t, it will no doubt be the result of honest
Yet, because of this uncomfortable chain of ownership, we now find
ourselves with one more headache among the many headaches that
accompany the important work of choosing an American president and
believing that the process was a fair one—particularly when such an
election comes down to a very few votes as may well be the case on
Election Day, 2012.
Really, guys. You couldn’t find anything else to invest in? You
couldn’t donate all those hundreds of thousands to charity rather than
put it into political contributions so that your fellow countrymen
would have no reason to ever doubt or question the results of so
important an election—or any election for that matter, even if it’s
the choice of a county dogcatcher?
I truly wonder sometimes just what these allegedly smart people have
inside their heads—or, more importantly, their hearts.