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The rats in Romney’s corner

The dirty tricksters behind Romney’s money
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  April 4, 2007


Mitt Romney’s powerhouse first-quarter fundraising numbers — he reports to have taken in more than $20 million — got him all kinds of press attention, including a key slot on the Today show on Tuesday. There, as in other appearances, Romney was asked whether much of his fundraising was done through Mormon connections.

He should have been asked how much of his fundraising was done through connections with the world of scandal, dirty tricks, sketchy ethics, and illegality. Romney’s finance committees, steering committees, host committees, and fundraising staff are full of such people.

For instance, Romney’s fundraisers include several of the big funders of the notorious Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — the group that claimed, without evidence, that John Kerry lied to obtain an undeserved Purple Heart. The Swift Boat Veterans’ top funder, home developer Bob Perry of Texas, is on one of Romney’s fundraising committees. So is another big funder of the group, Carl Lindner of Cincinnati. Lindner, by-the-by, was chairman of Chiquita Brands when it was secretly paying off South American terrorist organizations, for which the company recently agreed to pay a $25 million fine. And the Swift Boat Veterans’ legal counsel, Benjamin Ginsberg, is on Romney’s staff. Ginsberg was also chief counsel for Bush-Cheney 2000, for which he played a central role in stopping the Florida recount in that controversial election.

Several other Romney fundraisers helped in the 2000 Florida effort, including J. Caleb Boggs III, who led the Florida recount team for Bush; David Norcross, who served as a recount “observer” in Palm Beach; and Timothy Flanigan.

Flanigan’s name can be found woven through several juicy scandals. He was counsel for Tyco International, whose former CEO has just been convicted; he oversaw a suspicious contract with former lobbyist — and now convicted felon — Jack Abramoff. And Flanigan helped draft the notorious memos in defense of torture for then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales.

Another staffer from that office, Bradford Berenson, made a name for himself by publicly defending those memos. He is also a Romney fundraiser. So is David Leitch, whose e-mail exchanges with the White House Counsel office — discussing plans to fire all the US Attorneys — have become part of the scandal that threatens to end Gonzales’s current job as attorney general.

From the office of the previous attorney general, John Ashcroft, Romney’s team includes Barbara Comstock. Comstock later provided legal defense for both Tom DeLay, in his corruption indictments, and Scooter Libby, in his perjury conviction.

Another name that has become a part of Romney’s fundraising family is Joe Dilg, managing partner of Vinson & Elkins in Houston. There, Dilg was lead attorney on the law firm’s biggest account: Enron Corporation. A bankruptcy examiner found that Dilg’s firm was either negligent, or else actively aided and abetted Enron officers in their breaches of fiduciary duties. The company was also lead outside counsel for another company you might have heard of: Halliburton.

Finally, by odd coincidence, Dilg gave Alberto Gonzales his first job out of law school. It’s a small world, no?

Hillary’s fundraising spin
For some months, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been scaring the world with talk of her expected mammoth fundraising numbers. And when the first quarter ended last weekend, her campaign was the first out bragging about the take, claiming a triumphant $36 million figure.

Figures can be deceiving. As the full disclosure reports come in — due April 15 — we’ll likely find that the first-quarter fundraising shows surprising vulnerability in the front-runner’s status.

Or, to put it another way, Clinton’s overblown public tiff with Barack Obama over Hollywood funders was rooted in a real problem for her campaign.

Clinton’s $36 million figure includes at least $10 million rolled over from her Senate campaign coffers — it’s real, usable money, but not an indicator of fundraising power.

Plus, an undisclosed amount of the newly acquired $26 million is dedicated to a general-election account, unusable during the primaries because it runs beyond the $2300 individual-donation limit. Unlike other campaigns, Clinton’s spokespeople have refused to say how much is usable primary money. They claim, laughably, that they need a couple of weeks to sort out that level of detail in the numbers.

As one political observer quipped to me, you would think that with $36 million, she could hire someone who knows how to use Excel.

The reluctance to disclose these numbers has led some to speculate that as much as 20 to 25 percent of the $26 million is general-election funds — meaning that Clinton raised barely $20 million in new, usable contributions in the first three months of the year.

That’s still a lot, but it’s not above and beyond what the other top-tier candidates raised. Barack Obama, who had not released an estimate as of this writing, is rumored to have taken in at least $25 million, all for the primary. Mitt Romney raised just over $20 million; Rudy Giuliani raised roughly $14 million (plus $1 million for the general); John McCain raised $12.5 million; and John Edwards raised $12 million (plus $1 million for the general.

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  Topics: Talking Politics , Mitt Romney , Hillary Clinton , Bill Clinton ,  More more >
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The rats in Romney’s corner
The Mormon Church was first organized as an institution among men and women in Genesis 1:31. Genesis 1:31 "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." "every thing" in that verse included the Mormon Church. "... and, behold, it was very good." When God says the Mormon Church is "very good" it is not for man to say otherwise. Isaiah 5:20 "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" Mormonism is the religion of God the Father. It originated with him.
By certaincurtain on 04/05/2007 at 5:00:28
The rats in Romney’s corner
Theres talk in town about Mitt ROmney calling himself a long-time hunter but that he has only hunted twice. That doesnt make him anything less than a long time hunter. Example. People call themselves Catholics and how many times have they been to actual Mass or whatever they call it. Probably no more than twice. Are they lying when they still call themselves longtime Catholics? Get real here. Mitt is a long time hunter even though he may have hunted only twice. Theres a lot of people who call themselves Mormons but rarely go to church. You get the picture? If you do, email me and say "Hey, thanks for the insight certaincurtain"
By certaincurtain on 04/05/2007 at 3:29:14
The rats in Romney’s corner
Get your facts before you scare up untruths about Mitt Romney. I am a Christian and belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or as you call us "Mormons"). Go to the site if you really want to find facts about our church. Mitt is the only one running for President who has had only 1 wife and is a decent, moral man. Go to his webbsite to read about his many accomplishments. He comes from a long heritage of fine, upstanding ancestors, more than I can say about your left-leaning remarks that have no basis for truth, as usual.
By Carolyn Meinhardt on 04/06/2007 at 12:41:01
The rats in Romney’s corner
Ya know, it's hard not to be cynical when you see this sort of thing. After having published this article - "The Rats in Romney's Corner" ('The dirty tricksters behind Romney's money.'), he today has published "Romney's Chicks", an article trying to find a negative spin for the fact that Romney has connected so much better with women homemakers. I guess we now know that in the mind of Dave BERNSTEIN women homemakers = dirty tricksters & rats. Of course the bias of Mr. Bernstein is so painfully obvious that he has actually published two articles that show this guy is far more interested in finding a negative spin than in consistent & fair-minded analysis. Sad.
By Taylor on 05/09/2007 at 5:02:40

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