SBD/Issue 191/Law & Politics

Romney's '02 Olympics Ties Help Raise $1.5M In Campaign Funding

Romney's Ties To '02 Olympics
Help Campaign Fundraising
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reaped over $1.5M in campaign funds “during his governorship from individuals and families with ties to the Olympics,” according to Bob Hohler of the BOSTON GLOBE, which is running a seven-part online series called “The Making Of Mitt Romney.” When Romney took over as SLOC President in '99, he “pledged not to exploit the role for political gain and announced that he would not accept any severance pay when he finished the job,” but public records show “he did otherwise.”  Romney accepted a $476,000 severance package and also “helped to lobby the committee for similarly large pacts for his 25 senior managers, 17 of whom contributed to his 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign or the state Republican Party soon after the [Salt Lake] Winter Games.”  Romney’s spokesperson said that he donated the severance money “as well as his Olympic salary to charity.” 

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE: Romney said that soliciting campaign contributions from friends and colleagues “is a common and legitimate practice.”  Hohler reports 14 of the 53 SLOC Board of Trustees members made contributions to Romney, who also received donations from people “associated with companies ... that sponsored or did business" with SLOC.  However, no one is alleging "quid pro quo between Romney’s support for larger severance packages and his campaign’s solicitation of the recipients for contributions soon after the Games,” nor are people citing “impropriety in Romney seeking campaign funds from Olympic trustees, sponsors, donors and contractors.” Romney said, “We solicited everybody for political contributions.”  Former SLOC Chair Robert Garff said, “In politics, you raise money from people you know” (BOSTON.com, 6/28).

OLYMPIC SUCCESS: In a separate piece, Hohler writes Romney’s success with SLOC “cemented [his] reputation as a ‘turnaround artist.’”  Romney ran the Olympics “with a strong hand, personally lobbying business leaders ... to maintain their Olympic contributions and helping bring new financial backers on board.”  He also managed to “remove the stink of scandal and replace it with the glow of success” (BOSTON.com, 6/28).

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