LHS Associates

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LHS Associates is a New England election contractor, responsible for setting up voting machines throughout most of the region. Maintaining custody of the machines and sole authority to program them, their activities are shrouded in secrecy, immune to public records law. Following two suspicious New England elections (the 2008 NH primary and 2010 MA special election), LHS has attracted a lot of scrutiny. Investigative research has found that they employ criminals and flout election integrity procedures, making their role all the more concerning.

History

Local service provider

LHS Associates was founded in 1972 as Lynn Haas Services, based in Andover MA, by K. Lynn Haas (of Lowell MA) and Richard G. Schwedler (of Andover MA). Their president and treasurer was Schwedler, their clerk was Charles F. Dalton Jr. (of Andover MA), and their directors were Schwedler, Haas, and Domenic F. Marcone (of Winchester MA).[1][2] LHS provided various computer services to Massachusetts municipalities, such as voter rolls, tax billing, jury lists, and census processing.[3]

Entering the elections industry

Providing voter rolls led LHS into the election services industry. In 1985, they began selling optical scanners, which became their primary business from then on. LHS was first the New England representative of Business Records Corporation, a corporate ancestor of Election Systems & Software (ES&S). Then they became a distributor of Sequoia Pacific's punch card systems for about 6 years.[3]

Global/Diebold contract

In 1991, LHS signed on as the New England distributor for Global Election Systems, the precursor to Premier/Diebold. They started selling the AccuVote OS in 1992, which came to be adopted by nearly all the towns in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. LHS's role became programming the election info onto the memory cards (using VTS or GEMS), doing support and repair services on election day, and providing ballots to towns.[3]

John Silvestro remained in contact with Global throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s. Internal emails from Global showed him receiving monthly news releases from late 2000, which were also sent to Global executive Jeffrey Dean and other Global distributors such as Governmental Business Systems.[4][5] Another email involved Silvestro making a feature request for the AccuVote TSx to get it certified in Massachusetts.[6] Some New England election integrity activists alleged that Silvestro had a "long-time association" with Dean, who was a convicted embezzler before getting the job of overseeing Global's production. They claimed to possess evidence which they passed along to the New Hampshire Secretary of State. Silvestro denied even knowing Dean under oath.[7]

When Global was bought by Diebold in 2002, becoming Diebold Election Systems, LHS continued to be their distributor.

21st century controversies

Employees

Board of directors

  • President: ????, John Silvestro (????-2012), Jeff Silvestro (2012-present)
  • Vice president: Gerry Bergeron (1980-present)[8]
  • Treasurer: ????, John Silvestro (????-present)

Executives

Controversies

Conflicts of interest

John Silvestro and Ken Hajjar were both active in Londonderry politics while working at LHS. They served on many local committees, including together on the Budget Committee, and Silvestro was a town councilor. Silvestro and Hajjar's involvement in local politics was a major conflict of interest with their LHS jobs. They had an incentive to manipulate town politics in their favor (especially since LHS itself was paid by the town[9]), and LHS's control over elections left them the tempting means to do so. Numerous elections, from their own races to town referenda, would have been desirable targets to rig. A disturbing incident illustrated their lack of ethical scruples about election fraud: Hajjar's 1999 threat to rig a ballot measure, and Silvestro's dismissive anger towards those who informed him of it.

Violating election law

[10]

Disregarding election integrity

Ken Hajjar's criminal record

Suspect elections

2008 New Hampshire primary

Main article: 2008 New Hampshire primary

2010 Massachusetts special

Main article: 2010 Massachusetts special election

2016 Massachusetts Dem primary

Political connections

Corporate connections

References

  1. Homepage of the LHS Associates website
  2. LHS corporate records in MA - Articles of Organization, 1972/08/18
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dori Smith (of Talk Nation Radio) interview with John Silvestro in 2008
  4. GES news release in Nov 2000 sent to Silvestro
  5. GES news release in Dec 2000 sent to Silvestro
  6. Feature request from Silvestro to GES
  7. Democracy for New Hampshire, "The Hidden Underbelly of Election Engineering - Why We Cannot Entrust Our Sacred Republic to Automated Elections" - alleges a "long-time association" between Silvestro and Dean (TODO: Verify this)
  8. Gerry Bergeron's Facebook page
  9. Black Box Voting, "Londonderry invoices from LHS Associates", 2007/01/09 - notes how Silvestro recommended doubling town expenditures on LHS while a member of the Londonderry town council
  10. CT News Junkie, "Talk Radio Investigation Into New Voting Technology Reveals Vulnerabilities" by Dori Smith, 2007/11/05 - LHS swapped out memory cards in CT

External links

  • LHS corporate records in MA (original link and its archive)
  • LHS corporate records in VT - incorporated 1988/12/05
  • LHS corporate records in ME - incorporated 1989/03/21
  • LHS corporate records in NH - incorporated 1989/05/23
  • John Silvestro and Harri Hursti face off in NH
  • Bev Harris, "About those so-called "Election Audits" - Missing Info", 2008/09/09 - on CT's 2007 and 2008 audits of LHS's memory cards]
  • ProPublica information on a 2020/04/10 coronavirus bailout loan from the People's United Bank, National Association taken out by LHS ASSOCIATES, INC. of Salem NH - the loan is in the range of $150,000-350,000; for some reason, LHS is designated as being in the Commercial and Institutional Building Construction industry
    • People's United Bank background
      • Bank Management Committee bios
        • RICHARD M. BARRY, Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer: "Richard Barry is Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer at People’s United Bank. He is responsible for oversight and management of enterprise-wide credit risk activities. Barry has more than 25 years’ experience in managing risk and growing businesses for community-centric financial services companies., Before joining the Bank, Barry was the Chief Credit Officer at KeyCorp where he was responsible for all credit risk activities, including oversight of a $175 billion portfolio. He joined Key from First Niagara where he was the Chief Risk Officer, and played an integral role in the acquisition and integration of First Niagara into Key. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at Citizens Financial Group with roles of increasing responsibility, including President of the CT market, and most recently as Chief Credit Officer, managing a $65 billion portfolio of mid-corporate, middle market, small business, commercial real estate and several specialty businesses. Barry received a Bachelors degree in Finance from Bentley University and an MBA from Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business."
      • VTDigger, "EB-5 investors seek to revive lawsuit against People’s United Bank", 2019/10/29: "Attorneys for a group of EB-5 investors are pressing ahead in their lawsuit claiming that People’s United Bank “aided and abetted” Ariel Quiros, Jay Peak’s former owner, in an alleged scheme to defraud them as well as many others. Legal teams for both the investors as well as the Connecticut-based bank spent all day Tuesday in federal court in Burlington arguing about whether the latest lawsuit brought by the investors should be allowed to move forward. [...] The alleged fraud scheme involved more than 800 foreign EB-5 investors who each put $500,000, plus administrative fees, into a series of eight development projects in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Bill Stenger, the former CEO of Jay Peak, deposited investor monies in the Burlington branch of People’s United Bank and transferred funds to a Raymond James Financial Services account controlled by his partner, Ariel Quiros in Florida. Through Raymond James, Quiros put the money in treasury notes and leveraged the notes for as much as $100 million in margin loans, federal regulators say. Under agreements with investors, the money was supposed to be held in escrow for EB-5 development projects in the Northeast Kingdom. [...] [Lawyer Harley Tropin] said many red flags were raised over several years about the EB-5 projects that should have alerted People’s United Bank of the alleged fraud by the developers. He cited concerns raised in February 2012 by Douglas Hulme who blew the whistle on the alleged Ponzi scheme, informing 100 immigrant attorneys that Jay Peak’s financials were not on solid ground. [...] In addition to the People’s United Bank, the lawsuit names as defendants, David Gordon, a lawyer who worked for Quiros who has since been terminated and the firm Gordon worked for, MSK of New York City."

Original owners

  • K. Lynn Haas a.k.a. Keith Lynn Haas background
  • Richard G. Schwedler a.k.a. Dick Schwedler background
    • Boston Globe, "Call it the Divorce Open", 1994/09/08: "Next week at the Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster is the Sheeran Trophy championship, known to some as the Divorce Open. It pits teams of husbands and wives in a scotch tournament for the state championship. With the husbands and wives playing the same ball, there can be plenty of familial pressure on every putt. Last year, Debe and Richard Schwedler of Indian Ridge won the title, shooting a 72 at Hickory Ridge in Amherst. They will be back to defend their title"
    • South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "HUSBAND, WIFE WIN PALMAIRE GOLF TITLES ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS", 1995/03/26: ""It put a lot of pressure on me," said Dick Schwedler of Deer Creek, after watching his wife Debe win the Women's Golf Championship March 20 at PalmAire. The following day, Dick Schwedler, 53, won the Men's Golf Championship at PalmAire, making the Schwedlers the first husband-and-wife champs at the facility. Dick Schwedler has been playing golf for around 14 years and Debe for six. [...] Norm Brenner, director of golf promotions at PalmAire and native Londoner described the "first ever overall club championships" for the Schwedlers as "a lovely thing, indeed." Debe Schwedler will be playing in the upcoming Broward County Women's Amateur and Palm Beach Polo Club Four Ball golf tournaments. The Schwedlers, members of PalmAire for two years, retired to the area from New England, where they hold the Husband and Wife State Scotch Championships of Massachusetts. They competed with 180 couples for the title."

Personnel information

  • 2007 list of LHS employees
  • Apollo page for LHS Associates Inc. - mentions office manager John Levicki, manager Kristen Colon, and field technician Steven Strumskas
  • Steven Strumskas background
    • Hartford Courant, "Three Men Charged With Break-In, Theft", 2004/04/03: "FARMINGTON -- Three New Britain men have been charged with burglary and larceny after allegedly stealing a computer from a medical office in a building at 20 Batterson Park Road, police said. Steven Strumskas, 18, of 45 Milton St., and twin brothers Krzyzstof and Marek Skorski, who are both 20, of 155 Hillhurst Drive, were charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny and two counts of conspiracy. Strumskas, who was employed by the company that managed the office building, is accused of letting himself and the Skorski brothers into the building by punching in the code on a keypad. Once inside the building, they are accused of breaking into the office of Advanced Medical and stealing a computer. The machine was valued at $2,200. Because there was no forced entry into the building, police began focusing on who would have had access to the keypad code and began interviewing employees. The investigation's focus went to Strumskas, and the computer was recovered from his home, police said. The three were released on $5,000 bail for court dates later this month."
  • Scott Edward Locke apparently worked for LHS despite no evidence that he lived in New England after college

GES emails

NH officials and fraud

  • Discussion with Debbie Sumner on 2016/08/28 about LHS Associates and its influence
    • "Not aware of other LHS employees with criminal backgrounds. Citizens once asked the state to do background checks on LHS employees, but it didn't happen. LHS calls the shots in NH. One thing that might be good for you to know is that LHS has no lobbyist working for them in Concord. Don't need one, evidently. They did have one in Connecticut, the only New England state that has any oversight of their elections."
    • "NH has long had the reputation of having a "good old boys system." You take care of your friends and look the other way when you see something that shouldn't be happening. Not all election officials are part of that club, but as it turns out, many local officials are also state representatives. That includes election moderators."
  • Secretary of State Bill Gardner
    • According to a 2012/01/23 post by Bev Harris, SoS Bill Gardner has been perpetually installed by the NH legislature in secret for decades: "The article below contains a report that Sec. State Bill Gardner wants voter ID in New Hampshire, a position very much at odds with the Democratic Party platform. Gardner represents himself as a Democrat, but that may never have been the case. Gardner first ran for office in his 20s, in a ward where there happened to be no opponent in the Democratic race. He ran as an unopposed Democrat while his college frat brother, Robert Ambrose, ran as a Republican.

      When Gardner was elected Secretary of State, it was not a public vote but instead a vote by the New Hampshire legislature. This vote was conducted in secret, and the secrecy of the legislator's votes was the source of much contention, dragging the process into extra days. Ever since, every time Gardner is voted in by the NH legislature, it's in a secret vote. The public never gets a chance to vote. The legislators never have to account for their vote.

      Together with Ambrose, who he appointed "Senior Deputy Secretary of State", Gardner went on to hold the office for over 30 years. He and Ambrose were fraternity buddies together at University of New Hampshire, in a controversial era where students were far more interested in Viet Nam and civil rights conflicts than frat life. The fraternity was so out of the mainstream of student life that it closed down.

      All this to say, we've always wondered whether Gardner is a Democrat for real, or simply ran as a Democrat because (a) he had no opponent or (b) it was strategic."
    • Concord Monitor, "Five former N.H. governors endorse Bill Gardner for secretary of state", 2018/11/29
      • "Five former governors – four Republicans and one Democrat – are backing Bill Gardner’s bid for a 22nd two-year term as New Hampshire’s top election official.

        The governors – Republicans John H. Sununu (1983-89), Judd Gregg (1989-93), Steve Merrill (1993-97) and Craig Benson (2003-05), with Democrat John Lynch (2005-13) – signed an open letter released Wednesday that highlighted Gardner’s non-partisan independence and urged Granite Staters to “contact your Representative or Senator and ask that they vote for Bill Gardner on December 5th.”"
      • "Gardner is grappling with his most difficult re-election in decades as he faces with challenger Colin Van Ostern, a former two-term executive councilor and the 2016 Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Gardner, a former Democratic state representative, enjoys the support of most Republican state lawmakers but is being opposed by many in his own party."
      • "Early next month all 424 re-elected and newly-elected state lawmakers are sworn in and then proceed to vote for secretary of state."
      • "Van Ostern overwhelmingly won a non-binding test vote earlier this month among House Democrats, which served as a very loud wake up call for Gardner and his supporters."
      • "Gardner’s once impeccable reputation with members of both parties has taken a hit the past two years with Democrats. They are furious over his participation last year on President Donald Trump’s controversial and now disbanded voter integrity commission. Shaheen and Hassan, as well as the rest of the state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation and Democratic Statehouse leaders, called on Gardner to quit the commission."
      • "Many Democrats are angry with the secretary of state for his support for two GOP sponsored bills passed into law the past two years that tighten the state’s voter eligibility requirements, which many Democrats characterize as voter suppression measures."
  • Bev Harris, "BILL TO RESTORE PUBLIC RIGHT TO INSPECT BALLOTS IN TROUBLE", 2012/02/09
  • A public official who Sumner suggests might have been involved with LHS's takeover: "One other connection you might want to explore. Donald Stritch (who represented Londonderry, where Silvestro lived) was the head of the House Election Law Committee and appears to have helped LHS get control of NH elections. Bill Gardner appointed him to head the state advisory committee (that issued its final report in 2009), but he was unable to serve because of health issues."
  • Jaffrey Voices group run by Debbie Sumner - argues that election fraud occurred in Jaffrey NH in 2010
  • Protect the Count NH post in 2016 on NH town hand-count audits