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Federal Committee To Investigate Sequoia Ownership PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
July 16, 2006
Responding to a request from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, pictured at right), the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) has opened an investigation into whether the foreign ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems compromises national security. Smartmatic, whose majority owners once had links to the Venzuelan government, acquired Sequoia last year. Earlier this year CFIUS, a 12-agency panel chaired by the Treasury Department, approved a bid by a Dubai company to buy several U.S. port operations, a deal that was subsequently terminated after questions were raised in Congress and in the media.

The ranking member of the subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology, which has jurisdiction over CFIUS, Maloney sent a letter on May 4, stating that she wanted to ensure the Smartmatic deal had received federal scrutiny. Maloney was quoted in a recent syndicated article "as you can imagine, having a foreign government investing in or owning a company that supplies voting machines for U.S. elections could raise concerns over the integrity of elections conducted with those machines."

In a press release that accompanied her letter to CFIUS Maloney wrote:
Smartmatic was first the subject of controversy in 2004 when the Hugo Chavez-led Venezuelan government selected it to provide the voting machines system for the presidential recall election, even though it would be the company’s first time providing machines for an election. Smartmatic teamed up with a Venezuelan software company, Bitza, which at the time was 28% owned by Chavez’s government. More recently, a Chicago city alderman questioned the possible ties between Sequoia and the Venezuelan government when that company’s machines were used in the March 2006 Chicago primaries.
According to the article cited above, Brookly McLaughlin, a CFIUS spokeswoman, said she could not comment on whether the committee cleared the purchase. McLaughlin also declined to confirm or deny whether the committee is investigating Smartmatic's purchase of Sequoia. She said she could only say that CFIUS "has been in contact" with Smartmatic.
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