Romney Donors: Buying the White House, Selling Out the American Public
compiled and edited by Michael R. Burch
Follow the trail of money to the Waffle House. How do people without principles
(other than making money) buy the presidency? By telling everyone whatever they
want to hear. That, of course, explains why Mitt Romney has more flip-flops than
Daytona Beach during a spring break wet T-shirt contest. Mitt Romney is the
ultimate confidence man, selling a used Yugo by telling gullible voters what
they want to hear: that it's "better" than the car they're currently driving.
Willard Mitt Romney is
named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriot, one of the best friends of his
father, George W. Romney. At least twelve members of the Marriott clan gave to
Mitt Romney's campaign,
including the CEO of Marriott International, Bill Marriott.
More troubling is the list of big-money donors to Romney's campaign and
associated PACs. According to OpenSecrets.org and other sources, here are some
of the main suspects in what might be considered the buying of the White House
by the big banks, Wall Street investment companies, and hedge funds:
Goldman Sachs $965,140 (Wall Street)
Bank of America $844,734 (bank)
Morgan Stanley $768,216 (Wall Street)
Chase & Co $749,918 (bank)
Credit Suisse Group $588,841 (bank)
Wells Fargo $524,601 (bank)
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts $480,000 (private equity/LBO)
LLP $477,812 (financial advisory, risk management, tax preparation)
Kirkland & Ellis $470,672 (corporate law, tax planning)
Citigroup Inc $448,408 (bank)
PricewaterhouseCoopers $386,835 (financial advisory, risk management, tax
UBS AG $363,160 (Wall Street)
HIG Capital $362,500 (private equity/LBO)
Group $354,725 (private equity/LBO)
Elliott Management $281,925 (hedge funds)
EMC Corp $278,450 (data storage)
$277,970 (private equity/LBO)
Rothman Institute $263,700 (medical)
Ernst & Young $254,875 (financial advisory, risk management, tax
$247,270 (huge finance division)
With the exception of EMC and the Rothman Institute, "all the above" specialize
in what Mitt Romney himself specialized in: finance and/or tax avoidance. Why
are these companies investing in Mitt Romney? Probably because they think he
will help rig the game he knows so well to favor them.
Even more troubling is the list of billionaires who are contributing even more
money to Romney through various PACs.
Sheldon Adelson and his wife recently gave another $10 million to
the "Super PAC" backing Mitt Romney. In a campaign year of unprecedented contributions,
Adelson and his wife Miriam eclipse all other donors. The 79-year-old
billionaire chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp, Sheldon Adelson emerged as the Republican
Party's biggest patron in the 2012 campaign, pouring at least $47 million into
Republican coffers. The Adelsons gave $5 million each to the
pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future, accounting for about half of the fund's
cash raised from October 1 through 17, according to Federal Election Commission
filings. The filings are the last disclosures before the November 6 elections,
so no one knows how much the Adelsons will give, in full. Ironically, during the Republican primaries, the Adelsons used their
massive fortune to
attack Romney on behalf of presidential hopeful Newt
Gingrich, to whom they gave $20 million.
Forbes estimates Adelson's fortune to be $20.5 billion. In September, Adelson
told Politico he planned to spend up to $100 million, or "whatever it takes," to
defeat President Obama. Adelson may have given another $20 million to $30 million to
fundraising groups that are not required to report their contributors, according to
Politico. Adelson has also used his contributions to push for a stronger U.S.
defense of Israel's sovereignty. He is a director of the Republican Jewish
Coalition and has called Obama's Israel positions too soft. Adelson is under
federal investigation over charges that he violated the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act in connection with his casinos in Macau, a Chinese territory.
David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries Inc., is chairman of Americans
for Prosperity Foundation, whose sister organization has said it plans to spend
at least $125 million in support of Romney and other Republicans this year.
Harold Simmons, pioneer of the leveraged buyout, had contributed $17.2 million,
at last count.
President Obama, as evidenced by the 98% of his July donations that were $250 or less, draws
from much more modest pockets. In July, of the $186 million cash Romney had
on hand, only 14% came from donors of $250 or less. Also illuminating is the
fact that, though out-raised by about $26 million in July, Obama had more than
100,000 more donors than Romney.
What seem obvious is that "big money" has unquestionably thrown itself behind Mitt Romney.
And big money and corruption seem to always walk hand-in-hand.
Just three days after Paul Ryan got
the nod as the Republican candidate for vice president, what did he do? Does he
go to townhall meetings with voters in swing
states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida? No, he flew to Las Vegas, of all places, to meet with Sheldon Adelson,
the casino magnate. Why? Because Adelson has vowed to spend at least $100
million to defeat President Obama.
Romney himself held a fundraiser at one of the
Romney-Ryan is a ticket paid for by
right-wing billionaires on behalf of right-wing billionaires. Wealthy donors and corporations are
more heavily invested in this presidential election than at any time since the
1972 Watergate scandal led to stricter campaign finance laws. A series of court
decisions and regulatory changes in 2010 unraveled federal limits on donations,
paving the way for a return of the big players. Now the
billionaires are pooling their money in
nonprofits, which keep contributor names secret, via "super" political action
committees, which amassed $350 million through the end of July. One-quarter of
that money comes from just 10 donors, led by Las Vegas casino billionaire
Sheldon Adelson, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a
Washington-based group that tracks such spending. Top Republican contributors
say they back the party’s presidential candidate Mitt Romney because they agree
with his small-government philosophy or oppose President Barack Obama’s new
regulations on banks and the health-care industry. Yet Romney is more than just
a political kindred spirit; he’s a sound investment.
Here’s how a Romney
presidency might pay off—literally—for some of these super-donors. Sheldon
Adelson, this election’s biggest spender, could see his
casino profits soar if Romney cracks down on China. More than half of Adelson’s gambling-empire profits come from his four
casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau. Adelson’s Sands China Ltd. accounted for $2.95 billion of
the company’s total $5.34 billion in revenue in the first half of this year,
according to its second-quarter earnings report. If the value of the Chinese
currency were higher against the dollar—as Romney has demanded—it would
give a boost to Adelson’s bottom line. That’s because gamblers from China, who
make up the bulk of visitors to Macau’s casinos, would bring the same amount of
yuan for betting no matter the exchange rate, said Grant Govertsen, an analyst
with Union Gaming Group. So, in dollar terms, they’d be spending more. Sands
officials were asked in a 2010 earnings call what would happen if China loosened
restrictions on its currency, which may prompt it to rise. “It’ll have a big
meaning in Macau, and, of course, we’re all in favor of that,” Adelson said.
the yuan appreciated only 5 percent this year, and just half of Macau gamblers
changed their money from yuan, Sands China’s revenue for the first half of this
year could rise by as much as $73.8 million. The Adelsons
also are avid supporters of Israel, Miriam Adelson’s native country, and the
couple joined Romney when he traveled there last month to declare his unwavering
commitment to the Jewish state.
Harold Simmons, 81, may see
Romney as a way to turn a money-losing company into one that could print cash
with a single regulatory change. Simmons’s Contran Corp. owns 90 percent of the
publicly traded Valhi Inc. (VHI ) The weakest Valhi entity is Waste Control
Specialists, which lost $38 million last year, according to its annual report.
It wasn’t a blip: Waste Control Specialists has lost money in each of the last
five years, the report shows. Simmons has a net worth of at least
$6.5 billion, by Bloomberg estimates. He and his wife have contributed more than
$15.7 million to Republican super-PACs, including American Crossroads. That
super-PAC is guided by fellow Texan Karl Rove, a onetime political strategist
for former President George W. Bush, and has the stated goals of defeating Obama
and electing more Republicans to Congress.
Romney has vowed to
protect many of the tax breaks that John W. Childs, a Boston-based
private-equity investor, and his company enjoy. J.W. Childs & Associates has
invested in more than 40 companies since 1995 in deals totaling more than $14
billion, according to a company press release. Under the tax code,
private-equity managers pay only capital-gains taxes on their firm’s investment
gains, a rate that’s currently 15 percent. Obama has vowed to change that in two
ways, by raising the capital gains rate and by requiring private-equity managers
to pay taxes at an individual rate as high as 39.6 percent. Childs’s firm raised $1.75 billion in the last 10 years for its investment
funds, according to Preqin, a London-based alternative asset data provider.
Private-equity firms routinely take 20 percent of the investment gains, after
investors reach an 8 percent return. Childs’s funds, which have taken over
companies including Brookstone, Sunny Delight and NutraSweet, regularly exceeded
that 8 percent, according to a person with knowledge of the firm’s returns who
declined to be identified so as not to jeopardize his professional relationship.
It isn’t clear how much of that income goes to Childs himself. The firm lists
seven people as partners. Childs, who turns 71 this month, lives in Vero Beach,
Florida. He has given more than $2.6 million to super-PACs supporting Romney and
Republican congressional candidates.
For Charles and
David Koch, owners of closely held energy conglomerate Koch Industries, Romney’s
pledge to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law could lead to less
regulation and more profit at one of their biggest units. Charles Koch, 76, is
chairman and chief executive, and his brother, David, 72, is executive vice
president. They’re the seventh- and eighth-richest people in the world,
according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, with a combined net worth of at
least $70 billion. Their multifaceted conglomerate includes oil and ethanol
refiners, pipelines, minerals and even cattle, all of which rely heavily on the
use of physical commodities. The brothers are also major players in commodity
derivatives through a subsidiary, Koch Supply and Trading LP, one of the world’s
largest energy traders, which also deals in swaps for clients including hedge
and pension funds. The Koch brothers founded Americans for
Prosperity, which has vowed to spend $100 million on television ads and in a
voter-contact program designed to motivate people to go to the polls for Romney
and other Republican candidates who agree with their free market,
Other contributors of one million dollars or more
to PACs associated with Mitt Romney:
Edward Conard, 54, a top official at Waters
Corp. and Sensata Technologies, was managing director of Bain Capital — the
private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney — from 1993 to 2007. He has
contributed to PACs backing Romney since 2004, according to the Center for
Paul B. Edgerley, 55, is managing director of Boston-based
Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Mitt Romney, where he has
worked since 1988.
Kenneth Griffin, 43, Founder and CEO of hedge-fund Citadel
The self-described "man atop the horse," Foster F. Friess, 71, a mutual
John Kleinheinz, the owner of Kleinheinz Capital Partners, a
global hedge fund.
Robert Mercer, New York hedge fund manager at Renaissance
John Paulson, 56, president of Paulson & Co., "became a
billionaire in 2007 by betting against the U.S. subprime mortgage market,"
Bloomberg News noted in February. Forbes said his net worth as of September was
$15.5 billion, and that last year's "take-home pay" was $4.9 billion, "a record
for the hedge fund industry."
Julian Robertson, one of the first hedge fund
managers, Robertson, 79, was founder of Tiger Management Corp.
Paul Singer, 67,
CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management. Stephens Inc., an investment firm. Steven
Webster, Avista Capital, a Private Equity firm.
WASHINGTON—Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman doubled down on
Sunday on his criticism of front-runner Mitt Romney, saying the former
Massachusetts governor's "flip-flops" could cost him the GOP nomination. "I
think there is an issue on the flip-flops as it relates to trust," said
Huntsman, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, during an appearance
on NBC's Meet the Press. "I don't know if he can go on to beat President Obama
given his record. When there's a question about whether you're running for the
White House or running for the Waffle House, then you've got a big problem with
the American people," he added. Huntsman pointed to a few issues on which he
said Romney has switched positions, including abortion, health care and gun
rights. Romney signed into law a bill that provided universal health care to
residents of Massachusetts, but later criticized President Obama for a similar
nationwide bill. He has also said he believes abortion "should be safe and legal
in this country," a position he has since rescinded, among others. "When you
have something as central as life that you flip-flop on, when you have the
Second Amendment, when you have health care," he said. "You have a range of
issues—on taxes, for example—that he's been on both sides of." Huntsman
has repeatedly hit Romney for these position changes, including in two web
videos that show Romney stating different positions while a monkey back-flips.
Romney has countered by saying he has been "as consistent as a human being can