I didn't unearth this little goodie. MollyDog1994 did in another diary. And she found it in a 2007 article by David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix, who himself got it in part from Mittens' 2004 book Turnaround. The Google Books version of Turnaround has the story, from the Mouth of Mittens himself, on pages 208-209.
Provenance confirmed. Now, what the hell did Mittens do this time (or that time)? Well, he didn't break the law, as far as I know. What he did was something he seemed to have a knack for doing: finding technically legal, but ethically vile, ways to make gobs of money and exploit situations he found himself in. This time, he found a way to generate big bucks and political chits from the Salt Lake Olympics. Why else would he have left a profitable equity firm that was making kajillions ripping the guts out of American businesses and drinking their financial lifeblood? Why, to step up to a bigger stage, where he could bring his gut-ripping and financial gluttony to an even higher level.
He's lost the ability to campaign on his "governorship" of Massachusetts. He's losing the ability to claim his business acumen from his tenure at Bain. All that's left is his tenure as the head of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC). And being Romney, he tried to use that position for both political and financial gain. "Making the Winter Olympics great? That's my job? Yeah, sure, whatever, it'll get done, but let's focus on the bigger goal here: ME."
According to the Boston Phoenix story linked above, Romney told the CEO of John Hancock, the big insurance firm, that
his own political career depended on a financially successful Winter Games. [Hancodk CEO David] D’Allesandro, an ally of Romney’s in Boston, initially threatened to withdraw his company’s sponsorship after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bribery scandal, but, after Romney joined the SLOC, re-signed. The Olympics were emerging from an international bribery scandal. To launch his political career, Romney needed to financially rescue them. To do that, he needed corporate sponsorships. And he got many of those sponsorships by working his business connections, and his skill at finding ways to make deals worthwhile to the person across the table.Surprise, surprise, Romney declined to make the details of those deals public even though he touted the "total transparency" of his SLOC.
One deal, that to my mind constitutes an ethical conflict of interest, is given in gloating detail in Turnaround, by the Romdroid himself. Ethics, we don't need no stinking ethics... Romney offered a sweet deal to his pal and business partner Tom Stemberg, founder and CEO of Staples: his people would lobby the SLOC to switch their office-supply contracts to Staples if Staples would become a financial sponsor of the 2002 Olympics. Romney sat on the Staples board at the time and held a financial interest in the company:
he was offering to use his SLOC leverage and staff to drum up business for the company, an apparent conflict of interest.Unfortunately for this wannabe Master of the Universe, Office Depot was brought in instead, and Staples was out in the cold. But Romney wasn't finished yet. He arranged for Stemberg to offer a million dollars more than Office Depot had offered for the sponsorship, and had his SLOC staff offer a million dollars in
Staples wasn't the only one involved in Romney's ethically bullshit machinations. Jon Huntsman (remember him, the "only decent Republican" in the 2012 mix?) ponied up a million smackers for the SLOC, and in return Romney's Bain Capital invested $250 million in Huntsman's international-holdings company. Huntsman went on to co-chair the 2008 Romney presidential campaign. Illegal? Probably not. Sleazy? Oh yeah. And Gateway, who at the time was a huge PC manufacturer, agreed to sponsor the Olympics, and in return got unpaid consulting services from Bain in exchange for "certain underwriting opportunities," whatever the hell those are. Other corporate sponsors of the 2002 Olympics: Marriot (led by close family friends to Romney, and with Romney on its board); Sealy (owned by Bain); Monster.com (where one of Romney's kids worked as a consultant); GM (whose vice-chair sat on Marriott's board with Romney)l Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Sears (whose directors sat on Marriott's board), and others with past dealings with Bain or with executives with Bain connections.
Most of those Olympic sponsors became heavy donors to the 2008 Romney campaign.
Summary and talking point: Romney didn't "leave" Bain and become the head of the SLOC because he wanted to "give something back" to the country or wave a big old Olympic flag or anything remotely patriotic and American and selfless. He wanted to forge new (and deepen old) political and financial ties with fatcat business folks and use those ties to further his political career. And he did just that. How many of those 2008 donors are working with Romney's campaign now? How many of them will end up as President Romney's economic advisors? Or packed on the board of the SEC? Ramrodded into the Commerce Department?
They've bought and paid for Romney, and they have their expectations that Romney will do just as he (and they) do in the corporate world: pay them off with unlimited access, sweet deals, and the financially lucrative dismantling of one
private business government entity after another, after being placed in the position to siphon off enormous amounts of stolen money from the dismantling.
7:14 PM PT: Thanks for the rescue! I'm pleased it got saved so the info can become part of the broader discussion of why Calamity Mitt doesn't need to be allowed anywhere near the White House, and only in part because my ego likes the attention. :)