Much has been made recently about Mitt Romney's involvement with Bain while he was heading the Salt Lake Olympics Organizing Committee, but what about his actual involvement with the Olympics themselves? Romney has made his "turnaround" of the Olympics that had been tainted by an international bribery scandal a point of his campaign. He regards it as proof of his amazing leadership ability and patriotism. So, how did Romney bail out the Olympics. Well, he didn't. We did.
A September 2000 report from the United States General Accounting Office tells us that tax payers paid nearly $1.3 billion for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. The majority of that, 80% of that, in fact, $1 billion of that, was spent not on the game themselves, but on infrastructure upgrades. With 51% going to improving highways and 28% to improve mass transit.
To put that into perspective, we, the taxpayers, spent roughly $75 million on the Los Angeles Olympics and $609 million on the Atlanta Olympics.
This prompted Senator John McCain to call the Salt Lake game a "pork-barrel" project.
“I think it is a disgrace,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who, along with U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., asked the government agency to investigate the escalating expenditures for hosting the Olympic games in American cities.“But this is a logical extension of what you get when you start pork-barrel spending.”So, here is the question. Did any of that $1.3 billion of taxpayer's money go to benefit Romney or Bain?
We've been asking for tax returns, but how about a full disclosure of contracts related to the Salt Lake games?
In April 2012, Wayne Barrett at The Daily Beast exposed at least one shady dealing associated with the games. After Romney took over, after the bribery scandal was revealed, the SLOC awarded an exclusive contract for Olympic transportation to Jet Set Sports. The CEO of Jet Set Sports, Sead Dizdarevic, was at the center of the corruption scandal at the time. He is also one of Romney's biggest campaign contributors.
Prominent among these is Sead Dizdarevic, a New Jersey travel-company executive who is near the top of Romney’s pyramid of super PAC and campaign benefactors. If all family, corporate, and business-associate donations are included, people connected to Dizdarevic have contributed more than a million dollars to Romney. Dizdarevic, his company, and his family together have given $221,800.To borrow an old cliche, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We should focus less on taxes and more on these contracts. How many beneficiaries are Romney contributors? Does or did Bain hold stock on any of these companies?
TheAtlanta Olympics cost more, around $2.4 billion, but taxpayers only funded $609 million of that, or 25% of the cost.