Voting machine provider Hart Intercivic will be counting the votes in various counties in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Colorado and elsewhere throughout the country come Nov. 6 — even though it has extensive corporate ties to the Mitt Romney camp, and even though a study commissioned by the state of Ohio has labeled its voting system a “failure” when it comes to protecting the integrity of elections. Reports of Hart Intercivic’s ties to Romney first surfaced in late September, in a blog post by Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis in the Free Press, an Ohio website that reported that a key investor in Hart was HIG Capital, seven of whose directors were former employees of Bain & Co., a consulting company of which Mitt Romney was once CEO. (Romney left the company in 1984 to co-found a spinoff company, Bain Capital.) HIG Capital announced its investment in Hart on July 6, 2011, just one month after Romney formally announced the launch of his presidential campaign.
Nor were those the only ties between Hart and the Romney camp. Four of the HIG directors, Tony Tamer, John Bolduc, Douglas Berman and Brian D. Schwartz, are Romney bundlers along with former Bain and HIG manager Brian Shortsleeve, and, according to Opensecrets.org, a website run by the Center for Responsive Politics, HIG Capital has contributed $338,000 to the Romney campaign this year. Moreover, according to a reportin the Nation, HIG Capital is tied to the Romney family via Solamere, a private equity firm that has invested in HIG and is run by Tagg Romney, the candidate’s son. Solamere, however, has released a statement asserting that “Neither Solamere nor its principals have any ownership in the company or in the fund that owns the company.” A spokesman for Hart Intercivic, Peter Lichtenheld, vice-president of operations, confirmed that HIG was a major investor, but downplayed its role in Hart’s management. “HIG Capital is an investor with Hart,” Lichtenheld told Salon, “but it has nothing to do with management at Hart. We don’t want the perception that we have some political agenda. We are in the election business and integrity is paramount.”