Ed Schultz Suckered by Bogus Story That Tagg Romney Owns Voting Machines in Ohio

My condolences, Ed. I know how much you wanted to believe this was true -- how much you needed to believe it's true.

Not only that, you claimed on your radio show that it was accurate, and more than once, only to learn -- from a political ally! -- that it wasn't. Such are the seldom-felt joys of slogging through left-wing media. (audio clips after page break)

Here's Schultz on Tuesday unspooling an assertion that sounded shaky from the get-go (audio credit, Brian Maloney at mrctv.org) --

SCHULTZ: Question -- would you consider Tagg Romney part of the Romney campaign? Of course you would. I mean, it was Tagg that wanted to take a swing at the president, so I don't know if he's on the security team or the psycho team or whatever team, but he's part of it. I mean, he's one of the five sons. He owns voting machines in Hamilton County in Ohio. I don't know how that makes you feel or whether that alarms you in any w-, if you're a Republican (lowering voice to sound sinister) I'd feel real good about that.

Once again, Schultz gets tripped up by those stubborn things known as facts, an obstacle he encounters nearly every waking hour. Michael Warren at The Weekly Standard provides the details that Schultz was unwilling or too lazy to share with his listeners. Warren writes --

Several left-wing news outlets are reporting on a financial relationship between one of Mitt Romney's sons and a voting machine company -- with some even implying that the relationship could lead to tampering with votes on Election Day to benefit the Republican. The only problem? There doesn't seem to be any evidence of any financial relationship between Romney's son, Tagg, and the company.

Solamere Capital, an investment fund founded and run by Tagg Romney, is a financial partner with HIG Capital, a private equity firm that manages a whole range of investments. HIG also invests in Hart Intercivic, a polling machine company that operates machines in polling places in Hamilton County, Ohio. But Solamere does not have any financial interest in Hart, a spokesman for Solamere tells The Weekly Standard. ...

"Not only does Solamere have no direct or indirect interest in this company (Hart Intercivic), Solamere and its partners have no ownership in this company, nor do they have any ownership in nor have made any investments in the fund that invested in the voting machine company," the spokesman said.

Or as Schultz likes to say -- whatever! Schultz asked his first guest that day, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., if he had heard the story about Tagg Romney and voting machines in Ohio. Durbin said he wasn't aware of it and, to his credit, decided not to comment.

Another guest later on the show, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., also professed ignorance, albeit in a manner so inarticulate he sounded like Ted Kennedy at last call (audio) --

SCHULTZ: I just talked to Dick Durbin, he didn't know about it. Uh, it is confirmed. Your thoughts on this.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I did not know that. Uh, look, uh, in Ohio as in every state, we need to be vigilant, uh, about, uh, the integrity of, uh, the voting process. Uh, I don't know the deals, uh, the details of all this ...

SCHULTZ (tossing lifeline): Well, watch "The Ed Show" tonight, congressman.

VAN HOLLEN: All right.

A liberal pol deep from the belly of the Beltway confusing "details" with "deals" ... priceless.

Having already stated as fact that Tagg Romney "owns voting machines" in Ohio and that the story was "confirmed," Schultz asked about it with another guest, Nina Turner, Democrat state senator from Ohio. Turns out Schultz was off but only by a lot (audio) --

SCHULTZ: What do you know about this?! Is it true that Tagg Romney's company owns the voting machines in Hamilton County?

TURNER: Well, there is some connection there, Ed. There's a company by the name of Hart Intercivic that is partially owned by a company, HIG Capital, an investment company that has business ties to Tagg Romney's company, Solamere Capital. That's Tagg Romney's company. So, as far as I know, Ed, there is a tangential connection between the Romneys and these machines, that do ex-, that does exist. But we do not have any evidence of anything nefarious going on and, see, people are already scared, and you hit the nail on the head, because of this climate that the Republicans have created in terms of Repub-, in terms of voter suppression, they have invoked fear. Now the fact that there are some members on that board, on the Hart Intercivic board that exercised bad judgment, they have made donations and it's on record, to the Romney campaign. That is absolute bad judgment, that anybody in the elections business would appear to be impartial and I think this is what is sparking the concern.

SCHULTZ (more deflated by the minute): Well, so then we don't know. Uh, I guess, OK (Schultz still clinging to hope), he may be a distant investor or ...

TURNER: A distant cousin, yes, yes.

Connecting the dots? Tagg Romney owns Solamere Capital -- which partners with HIG Capital -- which counts among its investments Hart Intercivic, a polling machine company -- whose board members donated money to the Romney campaign (as nearly any sane board member with a similarly "tangential" connection to a presidential candidate, Dem or GOP, would be inclined to do). From this, Schultz concludes that ... Tagg Romney owns voting machines in Ohio.

Consider yourself warned if you're ever within a half-mile of Schultz operating heavy machinery.

The unintentional comedy continued apace with yet another Schultz radio show guest on Tuesday, Brad Friedman of the annoyingly named Brad Blog, claiming much the same as Schultz about Tagg Romney's alleged ownership of vast fleets of voting apparatus in the Buckeye State. For this, Friedman whined, he was criticized ... by ur-lefty blog Think Progress! (audio) --

FRIEDMAN: The voting machines in Hamilton County, Ohio, are owned by Hart Intercivic, a company, the third-largest voting machine company in the country which was acquired by HIG Capital, stands for Hart Intercivic Group, a bunch of investors very closely tied to Mitt Romney, some of his top-tier bundlers are involved in that group. It's invested in by Tagg Romney, Mitt Romney's son, and some of the board members of Hart Intercivic have given thousands of dollars to Mitt Romney. There's no question about this. It is not a conspiracy theory as some are regarding it. I was even attacked for reporting some of this stuff by my friends at Think Progress today.

... bringing to mind Grover Norquist's timeless observation that there are no allies on the left, only competing parasites.

Later that night, Turner spoke again with Schultz on "The Ed Show" and said she was "slightly" concerned about the issue. (in other words, it's a non-issue). By then I was almost sorry for Schultz, shorn as he was of that afternoon's bluster and certitude. Not to worry, though. Idiotic claims from Schultz are like streetcars, to paraphrase an otherwise forgotten song from the Rolling Stones -- there's always another one coming along.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts