The claim: Hugo Chavez’s family owns part of Dominion Voting Systems
After losing the 2020 presidential election, which was certified by the Electoral College on Dec. 14, outgoing President Donald Trump has waged a campaign of disinformation about election interference and voter fraud.
Dozens of Republican officials, including some who were elected in the same process that they falsely claim had widespread fraud, have backed the Trump campaign’s unsuccessful attempts to overturn the results of the election.
The claims about interference and fraud from the campaign’s supporters range from Sharpies invalidating conservative voter’s ballots in Arizona to Hugo Chávez — the deceased former president of Venezuela — owning part of Dominion Voting Systems, whose machines are used in 28 states.
In a video posted Nov. 30 to Facebook on the page Community Tap News, a man who claims to be a Biden voter and who said he originally doubted claims of election fraud, said that after tuning into a meeting featuring Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis and Arizona state lawmakers, he began to doubt the legitimacy of the election.
“I tuned in thinking this was going to be a joke … my laughter turned from laughter to straight anger and disgust with our state. If what they are saying is true, our state has blown this election,” the man said. “Not to mention, Dominion, the software company that is in charge of the election, 28% of that is owned by Hugo (expletive) Chávez, a goddamn communist in Venezuela.”
“Hugo Chávez is dead, but his family owns this. … Dominion was started by him,” he adds.
The man in the video does not identify himself beyond saying he voted in Maricopa County, Arizona.
When contacted by USA TODAY via Facebook Messenger with a request for evidence of claims in the video, Community Tap News replied, “My source is Anthony Kern. That’s all I’m willing to say.” Kern is a Republican member of the Arizona state House of Representatives.
Beyond this video, other posts on social media have linked Chávez and Dominion.
Who owns Dominion Voting Systems?
In the video, the man acknowledges that Chávez is dead but claims his family still owns Dominion and that Chávez started the software company. Both of these claims are false.
Dominion was founded in Canada in 2003, and the company’s majority owner is Staple Street Capital, which is based in New York City.
Additionally, despite being a privately held company that does not disclose its financials, CEO Jeff Poulous said in a letter to the House Committee on Administration that he owns a 12% stake of the company, while 75.2% is owned by Staple Street Capital and no other investors own more than a 5% stake, the Associated Press reported.
Following an onslaught of misinformation about the software company’s reliability, Dominion released a statement that includes information about the company’s ownership, as well as facts that debunk various other conspiracies.
“No foreign national directly or indirectly owns or controls the company,” the statement reads. “Dominion and other voting system manufacturers submit extensive company disclosures to federal and state authorities as terms of product testing and system certification.”
The statement also says there are no ownership ties to the governments of China, Cuba or Venezuela.
Get these in your inbox: We’re fact checking the news and sending it to your inbox. Sign up here to start receiving our newsletter.
Other false claims on signatures, Gina Haspel
The video also makes another false claim about Arizona’s election integrity, saying that election officials “did not signature verify 1.9 million Maricopa County ballots.”
Signature verification on mail-in ballots in Arizona, including Maricopa County, is required under state law and per the state’s election procedures manual.
Lastly, the man in the video claims that the Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, is dead. This is false. Haspel is not dead.
Our ruling: False
The main claim in the post is FALSE, based on our research. Hugo Chávez did not found Dominion Voting Systems, nor does his family own a stake of the company. Dominion was founded in Canada in 2003 and its majority owner is Staple Street Capital, which is based in New York. Outside of Staple Street Capital and the Dominion’s CEO, no investor owns more than a 5% stake of the company. Additionally, no foreign national or foreign government has a stake in the company.
Our fact-check sources:
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Dominion Voting Systems has no foreign owners