Whatever “achievement” a Republican politician brags about, you can be pretty sure there’s more to the story. The Daily Beast has been following Romney’s track record of being brought in to clean up a bribery scandal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and has found some things that indicate his own ethics leave something to be desired.
As per this new video from the DNC, Mittens oversaw the expenditure of $1.5 billion in government money for the event, making it the most expensive Olympics ever. He bragged about it when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, although he now says most of it was for post-9/11 security:
In his quest for the White House, Mitt Romney has repeatedly made the case that he is a better manager than its current occupant. When his tenure at the helm of Bain Capital came under fire in the primaries, he shifted to stressing his rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Those games had been nearly destroyed by a wide-ranging bribery scandal, and as Romney recounted in his 2004 memoir, Turnaround, he was the CEO brought in after the brouhaha who cleaned it up.
Although no one disputes that the Salt Lake Games were a managerial success that revived his public career, some of the contacts Romney made during that time were key figures in the scandal, yet he remains connected to some of them, and continues to receive their sizable campaign donations. The closeness of these bonds calls into question Romney’s ethical compass.
Last month, The Daily Beast recounted the tale of one circle of Romney donors tied to a tainted Olympic contractor who has given more than a million dollars in campaign donations. After being granted immunity by prosecutors, the contractor, Sead Dizdarevic, admitted making $131,000 in cash payments to Romney’s predecessors. The cash was used, at least in part, to subsidize the IOC gifts. Yet it was Romney, not his indicted predecessors, who awarded Dizdarevic the hospitality deal that’s made him the ticket king of the Olympics to this day.
But Dizdarevic is hardly the only Romney donor with disturbing Olympic ties. David Simmons also testified in the 2003 federal trial of Romney’s predecessors, in a case that was ultimately dismissed. But unlike Dizdarevic, Simmons pleaded guilty to a federal tax misdemeanor as part of a cooperation agreement that allowed him to avoid a multi-count felony indictment.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the guilty plea was connected to Simmons giving a fake job to John Kim, the son of a critical IOC member, to qualify him for a sham visa, and then submitting fraudulent tax and immigration filings to cover up the alleged conspiracy.
Since that time, Simmons and his family have given more than $317,000 to Romney and affiliated campaigns, and business associates of the family have added nearly $160,000 more. Simmons and his wife, Melinda, donated $32,100 themselves, going back to 2006.
“There are things that make your job easier and things that make your job harder,” Romney told reporters who asked about Simmons.
In addition, one Simmons brother provided Romney’s 2008 campaign with a private plane and another led the energy discussion at a policy roundtable fundraiser for Romney in Washington last February. A company whose board of directors consisted entirely of Simmons’s father, all six of the Simmons siblings, and the spouse of one sibling, each one of whom has donated to Romney, was directly implicated in the Olympics scam that led to David Simmons’s guilty plea.
Oh, what’s the big deal? If we started discounting Republican candidates for taking money from shady people, there wouldn’t be a Republican party!