News

Imperium Watch: The Solamere Money Machine

It counts your votes—and enriches the Romneys.

Comments (3)
Thursday, November 01, 2012

Solamere Capital Partners is an equity firm started up with $10 million in seed money from Mitt and Ann Romney by their son Tagg and Romney chief fundraiser Spencer Zwick. It invests in other equity firms, many run by Romney political donors. One of those firms is HIG Capital. HIG in turn invests in firms that make things, things like the Hart Intercivic voting machines that are used in certain districts in Ohio and other states. Several officials of HIG and Hart Intercivic are donors and bundlers for candidate Romney.

The point is not that Republican minions are likely to tamper with the machines—though, given the sudden uptick in votes for George Bush in certain districts in Ohio in 2004 and the impossibility of tracking votes on the machines, the idea of tampering is not altogether absurd. But what common sense can’t deny is the lack of concern for appearances, the lack of protectiveness toward the perceived integrity of the electoral process, in this ownership chain. As Forbes editorialized, “... 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?”

And there’s more you should know about Solamere. It has a subsidiary, Solamere Advisors, started up in 2009 by the Romneys’ son Tagg. Solamere Advisors went into business soon after the financial empire of Allen Stanford collapsed in February, 2009, when he was arrested on federal charges of bilking investors by selling worthless offshort bank CDs. At the time, the news was shoved into the background because everyone wanted to learn more (and more, and more) about the Bernie Madoff scandal; few noticed that there were lesser Bernie Madoffs, including Allen Stanford.

Stanford owned banks that had been linked to South American and Mexican drug cartels and other enterprises that showed how fragile the line between clean big money and dirty big money can be. His firm, Stanford Financial Group, carried out a $7 billion Ponzi scheme by selling the phony CDs. Some of Stanford’s employees eventually landed in North Carolina with a financial advisory firm; three, Tim Bambauer, Deems May, and Brandon Phillips, were hired by Solamere Advisors.

Tagg Romney told reporters for the Thinkprogress blog that Bambauer, May and Phillips had been cleared of involvement in the Stanford Financial Group Ponzi scheme and that they had made little or no money from it, but Thinkprogress learned that the three were among the defendants in a federal court case filed to recover money for Stanford investors. Bambauer, who left Solamere Advisors in 2011, collected $210,000 or more from selling $13 million worth of the phony CDs, according to information compiled by the receiver for the now-defunct Stanford operation and reported by the New York Times.

The point is not that Romney himself is connected with the Stanford companies or tainted by the malfeasance of their owner. But a question arises that’s similar to the one raised by Forbes about the Hart Intercivic connection. Why would a member of the Romney family go into business with former Stanford associates, and give the press a misleading answer about their histories? Where is the concern for probity and the appearance of probity? In a nation with a superfluity of financial operatives, why choose old Stanford hands as partners in a new company?

Then, in the face of Romney’s statements about not wanting to hurt the auto industry, the purchase by a Romney partner of autoparts maker Delphi when the White House wanted to reunite it with General Motors; the move of Delphi jobs to China; and the gambit that funneled government job preservation money for Delphi into the hands of a hedge fund in which Romney had an interest—all recently reported by Greg Palast in The Nation—raise more disturbing questions.

Here’s one reason these questions are irritating: many in the “99 percent” are stuck every day with the need to make distasteful compromises, large or small, in order to survive in workplaces that are, to a minor or major degree, corrupt. But one of the best uses of money in the life of a person who has a great deal of it—and a great deal of choice about how to make it—is to enable him to stay above compromises and conflicts of interest, even perceived conflicts of interest.

Follow the trail of Romney family money, however, and you stumble over one unpleasant fact, or question, after another. Why the HIG connection? Why the secondhand association with the Stanford employees? Why the investments in Chinese companies, discussed in last week’s column, that are textbook illustrations of what Romney says is wrong with China? Between the personal integrity Romney projects and the world that is built by his and his family’s way of making money, there is a troubling disconnect.•

Comments (3)
Post a Comment

Not working well so far...

http://myfox8.com/2012/10/23/guilford-county-voters-say-they-voted-for-the-wrong-candidate/

Advocate is really pathetic with these 6 degrees of Bain capital stories but I will look forward to hopping on this site in the likely event that Obama is relieved of his duties next Tues.

Speaking of Chinese companies... it's a shame your blind ideology doesn't allow you to tackle juicy stories like the fact that the Obama campaign has gone out of its way to NOT require CVV off credit cards for donations (howevery they DO require it if you want to buy a mug). And that obama.com is owned by Robert Roche who lives in Shanghai and has ties to Chinese banks and the govt.

Eh... no story there. Mitt invested in Tagg who invested in a firm who invested in other firms, one of which made machines. Oooooohhhhh... they'll burn for this!

Posted by k on 10.31.12 at 4:32

http://www.marionstar.com/article/20121031/NEWS03/310310009/Problem-found-board-elections?nclick_check=1

Huh... MORE problems that seem to be helping Obama.

"Joan Stevens was one of several early voters at the polls on Monday. But when Stevens tried to cast her ballot for president, she noticed a problem. Upon selecting “Mitt Romney” on the electronic touch screen, Barack Obama’s name lit up. It took Stevens three tries before her selection was accurately recorded."

How exactly do you feel you are serving the interests of your readers?

Posted by k on 10.31.12 at 9:55

More guilt by association: do you know who else had six letters in their last name?

HITLER!

Posted by Godwin on 11.2.12 at 21:14
Comment:

Name:

Password:

New User/Guest?

Find it Here:
keyword:
search type:
search in:

« Previous   |   Next »
Print Email RSS feed

Stagestruck: Expecting the Unexpected
The adventurous theater of Ko Fest
From Our Readers
Casinos: A Many-Sided Issue; Pipeline Clarification
Between the Lines: Bad Times for A Good Teacher
Still mourning the death of Phoebe Prince, Debra Caldieri is now fighting for her own life.
More Than A Free Lunch
Summer meals program serves up nutrition, but many children don’t take advantage
The Pipeline Revolt
Massachusetts residents take to the roads to protest the Kinder Morgan gas line.
From Our Readers
Help Blue Water Navy Vets; Stop Demonizing Pot; Pot Lobby Gives Pols a Pass
Between the Lines: A New Day for Chicopee?
Mayor Richard Kos and the City Council are getting along. But how long will that last?