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In the midst of the growing controversy surrounding Canadian company Dominion Voting Systems, its ties to Smartmatic, and the fraud accusations by President Trump and his legal team, another revelation emerges: Peter Neffenger, currently Chairman of the Board of Smartmatic in the U.S., is part of Joe Biden’s transition team at the Department of Homeland Security.
The first reports came through Sidney Powell, part of Trump’s team of lawyers, and was replicated via Twitter by some users.
The fact is easy to corroborate. Smartmatic’s website features Peter Neffenger as a member of the board of directors, in addition to a brief description of the former officer’s achievements: “Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger (USCG retired) enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he served as the 29th Vice Commandant until June 2015 when he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a position he held until January 2017,” reads the company’s website.
According to the Biden-Harris website, in the “transition” section, Neffenger is listed as a “volunteer” under the “Source of Funding” item —as are all the people listed— and, in the “Most Recent Employment” column, the former officer is assigned a “self-employed” status, which was only applied to a few names on the transition team.
However, the LinkedIn profile of former officer Peter Neffenger indicates that he is indeed chairman of the board of Smartmatic in the USA.
“He is Chairman of the Board of Smartmatic, USA, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Baldwin Wallace University, in addition to holding positions on other corporate and advisory boards,” says the contact information.
A press release issued by the Associated Press in 2018 mentions the incorporation of experts in national security and elections for Smartmatic’s board of directors in the US. The note includes testimonies from Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic’s executive director, and Neffenter, referred to as “chairman.”
“We’re excited to welcome the US board members and their unique capabilities. Their diverse experience as innovators across industries will be invaluable as we continue to assist in modernizing elections infrastructure in the U.S. and around the world,” said Mugica.
Peter Neffenger also had words in the statement: “The Department of Homeland Security has designated U.S. elections systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The growing threat of cyberattacks on U.S. elections has put election infrastructure and the need for security and technology improvements front and center. Our Board is fully focused on supporting Smartmatic’s collaborative and transparent work with industry representatives; regulators; federal, state and local governments; and election officials to promote a strong, stable sector with election integrity as the paramount focus.”
The same statement reads that Smartmatic had recently opened “its West Coast office in Santa Monica, California, which hosts some 50 local employees,” adding that the company was working with Los Angeles County “on a new election system for 2020.”
The Smartmatic Scandals
The company was founded in 2000 in Delaware, US, by three Venezuelan engineers: Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic’s CEO, and his two colleagues, Alfredo José Anzola and Roger Piñate.
The reputation of the company is not the best. Its links with Chavismo go back to 2004, when a Venezuelan government agency, according to The New York Times, invested US$ 200,000 in a technology company owned by the same owners of Smartmatic: Bitza. That same company, along with Smartmatic and the Venezuelan CANTV, won that year a contract with the regime to provide their services to the 2004 recall referendum, denounced by organizations such as Súmate or Esdata for fraud.
Since that year, the company specialized in electronic voting systems was a contractor with the Venezuelan dictatorial regime until 2017. Smartmatic played a fundamental role in most of the controversial electoral processes, such as those of 2010, 2012 and 2013 -the most remembered, the one between the current dictator, Nicolás Maduro, and Henrique Capriles-.
Dominion-Smartmatic links provoke speculation about Peter Neffenger’s position
A recent exclusive published by El American explains the history of the Canadian company Dominion, today accused of electoral fraud and pointed out for its links with Smartmatic, a company that is strongly linked to the fraudulent electoral processes in Venezuela and that was investigated by the Foreign Investment Committee of the United States.
Smartmatic, at the time, caused concern in Democratic voices in Congress, such as Carolyn Maloney, who asked the Department of the Treasury to investigate the purchase of “Sequoia” -an important company in the private electoral system- by Smartmatic.
Sequoia, after being bought, had an extreme makeover. Its machines were replaced by equipment developed and patented by Smartmatic. All of its software, in fact, was property of the controversial company created by three Venezuelan engineers.
The investigation by the United States Foreign Investment Committee reached a resolution: that Smartmatic should sell Sequoia. The company “complied”, but was later exposed in a legal proceeding where it was revealed that Smartmatic still had a direct interest with Sequoia.
Then, in 2010, Sequoia was acquired by a small Canadian company: Dominion Voting Systems. Today, the company has been accused by President Donald Trump’s legal team of election fraud and of having direct ties to Smartmatic, a company with a board of directors in the United States where Peter Neffenger serves as president and is now part of Joe Biden’s transition team.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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