From Smoke To Fire
Is The GOP Stealing Another Election?

by Milo Clark

September 6, 2004   


(Swans - September 6, 2004)  Folk wisdom tells us "Where there's smoke, there's fire!"

Dwayne Yoshina, Chief Election Officer for the State of Hawaii, insists Hawaii is not Florida. I want to believe him.

In Florida, Georgia and Riverside County, California, electronic voting machines turned out to be part of the problem. The C.E.O. of Diebold, maker of one such machine, is quoted as saying he will do all in his power to assure that George Walker Bush is elected President in 2004.

Under Federal direction, in an attempt to avoid situations such as prevailed in Florida in 2000, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines are coming or are already here.

Very recently, Hawaii bought enough DREs to put one in every precinct and to make them the only method of voting available for walk-in voting in 2004.

Hawaii election officials chose a machine made by Hart InterCivic, a Texas-based supplier. Normally, government procurement practices require open bidding with the sale going to the lowest bidder who meets specifications. Those specifications are set forth in some form of Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP). These are assumed to be open documents.

In late July, I asked Mr. Yoshina for information on the procurement process for DREs. I was told that such information was not available during the procurement process. He could tell me nothing at that time. I told him that people are very concerned and worried about DREs. A plank of the Hawaii Democratic Party platform expresses this concern.

Is it coincidence or plan that puts this purchase off to the last minute? With a primary scheduled for Saturday, September 18, does it make sense to keep the public in the dark until mid-August on this important decision?

Now that the Hart machines have been bought, I am trying to find out what happened. I go to the state procurement office website and search for related RFQ or RFP. I can find none. I look for the purchase agreement related to Hart InterCivic. I find nothing. In other words, I have to work harder. I send an e-mail to the procurement office to which I have, as yet, no reply.

Is this smoke I smell?

Going to the website for Hart InterCivic, I look at the list of officers and directors. This is a Texas company spawned from a commercial printing background. Big, successful commercial printers typically do a lot of business at election times. After branching out into government services and now into DREs, Hart InterCivic was spun off into a venture capital situation. That is, sophisticated Texas-based money people smell more than just smoke, they smell big money.

I go through the list of directors and find all outside directors are venture capital people, money bags for Hart InterCivic. I look a bit further and I note that these directors and Hart officers smell like a campaign committee for George Walker Bush.

Director John G. Farmer is "Co-Managing Partner of Stratford Capital Partners. . . affiliated with the Hicks, Tate and Furst organization." Mr. Farmer comes from the Dallas banking world.

Big money people are very good to their chosen political poodles. Somehow these politicians end up as big money people. George Walker Bush is no exception. Big money backed his failures in the oil business, Arbusto and Harken. Bush made over $800,000 from the Harken failure alone. Big money then set him up with the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Borrowing $500,000 from a Midland, Texas bank of which he had once been a director and adding in $106,302 of "his" money Bush gets 1.8% of the action, George Walker Bush ended up as co-general managing partner of the Texas Rangers. Somebody who knew what he was doing was the actual boss while Bush supplied window dressing. His big money buddies then added to the Bush stake so that he ended up with 11.8% of the deal.

When Bush became governor of Texas in 1995, he put his assets in a blind trust, keeping out, however, his stake in the Texas Rangers. Did he know something was going to happen?

Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity publish a series of books called "The Buying of the President." The 2004 edition picks up the story on page 154.

Thomas Hicks was then Chairman of the Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst investment firm. "Hicks and the firm's employees rank nineteenth as Bush's career patrons, having given him at least $233,000. But in 1998, Hicks helped provide Bush with an even greater windfall: he bought the Texas Rangers for $250,000,000, three times what Bush and his partners had paid ten years earlier. . . . [Bush's] cut from the proceeds of the sale was $14.9 million, nearly a 25 fold return on his investment."

By my calculations, Bush put up $106,302, borrowed $500,000 and ended up with $14,900,000, boosting his own money 140 times. You figure it out.

Is it purely coincidence that Hawaii ends up with DREs from Hart InterCivic? Is our openly ambitious Republican governor, Linda Lingle, covertly influencing this purchasing decision? This whole situation cries for openness. Will we get it?

Can we trust these machines? They come with layers of certifications by prestigious research firms. The manufacturer insists they are foolproof and impregnable. Mr. Yoshina vouches for them without reservation.

I have known and worked with very sophisticated electronic and computer engineers employed by the United States government on extremely sensitive projects. To a man, they insist that there exists no electronic device, no software, no encryption system which cannot be penetrated. After all, they point out, United States government people routinely and regularly get into computers anywhere in the world. Who controls these spooks today?

Hart InterCivic DREs (and all DREs) are electronic devices employing software. In tabulation processes voting results are sent by modems to servers. Modems and servers are leaky play toys for hackers.

Can we be sure Hawaii is not Florida?

Hawaii polls close long after those on the continent. What if Hawaii's four electoral votes turn out to be decisive? The gap in time then becomes critical. What if some spooks diddle with Hawaii's DRE votes to turn the tide? Is a Texas-based company with evident ties to George Walker Bush to be trusted? Can we trust any DREs?

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Published September 6, 2004
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