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Romney Plants $eeds in South Carolina

When it comes to fundraising for a potential 2008 presidential bid, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is doing things differently than any of the other Republicans (or Democrats) also mulling a run for the White House.

Mitt Romney
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters Tuesday during a news conference at the Statehouse in Boston. (AP Photo)

Most of these aspirants are raising cash for their personal campaign accounts, like Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and George Allen (R-Va.). Or they are raising funds for leadership political action committees -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D).

Romney has a federal PAC (The Commonwealth PAC), but he has also established state-based fundraising committees in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan -- states whose caucuses or primaries will occur in the earliest days of the '08 presidential nominating contest.

Romney has focused his presidential fundraising on his state groups for several reasons. First, a single donor is limited to contributing $5,000 a year to any federal PAC, but a donor can make considerably larger donations to state-chartered PACs (neither Iowa nor Michigan have contribution limits; an individual can give $3,500 in South Carolina and $5,000 in New Hampshire).

Given that each state has different filing regulations, Romney's state-based strategy makes it considerably more difficult to track where his contributions are coming from and what he is doing with the money. The Boston Globe did the definitive story to date on Romney's multi-state fundraising groups last month.

The Fix likes a challenge, however, and has been monitoring Romney's various state filings. South Carolina came in a few days ago, and after poring over it for the past 24 hours, here's what I found:

Between April 1 and June 30 the South Carolina Commonwealth PAC raised $236,000 -- the vast majority of which came in the form of $3,500 donations. Twenty-seven individuals in the state of Utah gave to the PAC while 14 donors were based in Massachusetts. Thirteen contributors had California home addresses while six live in Michigan. Not a single contributor to the organization came from South Carolina. The depth and breadth of the donations from Utah signal -- as The Fix has long maintained -- that Romney's Mormon faith will allow him to tap a massive funding source not fully exploited by politicians in the past.

A few well-known names in donor circles popped up on Romney's South Carolina filing, including New York developer Robert Congel, a "Ranger" for President Bush in 2004, as well as Bush "Pioneers" Edward Levy, a Michigan trucking company executive, and David Weinstein, a Boston-based executive for Fidelity investments. Mark Chapin Johnson, a wealthy and politically active California businessman, also donated the maximum $3,500 to Romney's South Carolina fund in the period.

As interesting as who is giving to Romney is who is on the receiving end of his largesse -- lots (and lots) of South Carolina candidates. The PAC made a whopping 60 donations of $500 each to South Carolina candidates, with 47 going to sitting state House members. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer received a $2,000 contribution while state Adjutant General Stan Spears, state Comptroller Richard Eckstrom and Secretary of State Mark Hammond got $1,000 each. (A sidenote that speaks well of the political savvy of Romney's campaign team: Every donation to a candidate was made on June 28 -- the day AFTER the state held its primary runoff election.)

Romney didn't neglect state and local party committees either. He sent $5,000 to the South Carolina Republican Party, $3,500 to the state Senate GOP caucus and $2,000 to several large county GOP committees, including those in Charleston, Horry, Lexington and Richland. The party groups in smaller counties -- Dorchester, Georgetown, Pickens and Sumter among others -- received $500 donations.

A few consultants and consulting firms were also listed on the PAC's expenditures. Leslie Gaines, a Greenville-based consultant, took in $5,000. SCM Associates, a New Hampshire-based direct-mail firm, was also on the payroll. SJZ LLC, a Boston-based consulting operation, took in more than $5,000 during the period.

These contributions and expenditures mean Romney is using his state-based organizations (as well as his federal PAC) to build the financial infrastructure to run for president. He is seeding politicians and parties in key states with campaign cash in hopes of collecting chits down the road.

Watch this space in the coming weeks and months as Romney's other state-based committees file financial reports.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 13, 2006; 9:32 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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What is there to say about a Romney candidacy,..aahhh let's see,....great smile Mitch!

Posted by: LP | July 16, 2006 1:06 AM | Report abuse


Perhaps you'd prefer MA before Romney took the helm? $3 billion in debt? If I recall, Romney was drafted to the governor's race to fix the PATHETIC financial mess MA put itself in. No doubt MA will get itself back in the same fix once Mitt's gone (he vetoed 500 million of pork for next year's budget alone).

Or perhaps you are opposed to Romney revamping the disaster preparedness programs in MA, which resulted in the highest rating from the Dept of Homeland Sequrity (only 1 of 10 states to receive such an honor).

Or perhaps you're against Romney's various education reforms? In 2004, Governor Romney established the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Program to reward the top 25 percent of Massachusetts high school students with a four-year, tuition-free scholarship to Massachusetts' state university or colleges. He has also drafted other education reforms, including the recruitment of 1,000 skilled math and science instructors, bonuses of as much as $15,000 a year for top-performing teachers, and new intervention programs for failing schools.

I could go on and on and on, but oops, I have a day job. Empty suit? I think not.

Posted by: murphy | July 14, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Hope Romney makes it, seems unlikely, but I hope he makes it.

Posted by: Dave | July 14, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Romney is just a slicker model of what we have in the White House right now. Slicker, but the suit is just as empty. A whole lot of people around here can't wait to get rid of him, but he doesn't deserve a promotion.

His only reason for wanting to be governor of MA was to step on our backs on his way to the presidency. He, like Bush, doesn't give a damn about governing.

Let him go back to Bain and rake in some more $$$$.

Posted by: Diane | July 14, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jerry | July 14, 2006 6:37 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jerry | July 14, 2006 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney having a chance?

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Chris, you haven't been this funny since you called Mr. Moron a great pollster!

Posted by: Greg in LA | July 13, 2006 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Nice try guys. Funny funny. Anyway, I am still wondering how the reporters are going to be covering all the campaigns which will be starting in November 2006, after election day.

As I said, 1999 was a pratice run because there will be twice as many to cover, offically and unoffically.

I remember one network had media crews for Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and John Kerry, and Carol Mosely Braun, Al Sharpton and however many others were running for the nomination. I think they had 10 people at the debates before the Iowa Caucus, right?

So again, the media better start hiring and training their additional crews because the doors burst open the day after the end of the November 2006 races. You know I am right.

Posted by: Slim Girl in Pearls | July 13, 2006 9:46 PM | Report abuse


The man knows how to give marching orders (as he did in person in MA yesterday), and it's really not necessary for him to be in the tunnel with a hardhat.

Romney filed emergency legislation to take control of the investigation of the tunnel accident and remove Amorello. As for being out of state today, the recent invention of the telephone is something you should learn about.

Posted by: murphy | July 13, 2006 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't anyone paying attention to Romney is (not) handling a certain little disaster up here in Boston??? He got on camera yesterday, pounded his chest for the media -- and promptly went back to his summer house in New Hampshire. A woman is dead, a $14 BILLION project is in crisis -- and the lieutenant governor is officially in charge of our state. This approach to management should be a signal to the rest of the country about what kind of president he would make.

Posted by: MassDem | July 13, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Note To Midge:

You Don't Have To Capitalize Every Word.

Also, I see Karen/Tina now wants to be known as a slim girl in pearls. Nice try.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | July 13, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Drindl for nailing Condi for what she is, another charter member of the Grand Oil Party, as taninted and dirty as the rest of this crooked adminstration. So what if she is more articulate that your average Bushie, that does not excuse her complicity in the deaths of over 2,500 American GUs and the thousands of Iraqi's killed. She is just a more polished apologist with as much blood on her hands as Dubya himself.

Posted by: GARY sTAIGER | July 13, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Governor Romney will be A great President,
His Father was A Great Governor, We will all benefit from all his knowledge.
He being A Morman has nothing to do with it. President Kennedy was A Catholic.
He was A wonderful President.

Posted by: Midge Elias | July 13, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

For those who mentioned an interest in the battle for control of state legislatures a few weeks back, an analysis has been done by the Rothernberg Report found at:

Note: The details require a subscription.

Posted by: RMill | July 13, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

No matter what the issue we are discussing, a Condi Troll Doll [TM] will pop out of the woodward and start babblng. Wind em up, they do their spiel.

As a Democrat, I hope Condi runs. She's been so good to oil companies over the years, and is so heavily invsested in them, that Exxon Mobil named an oil tanker after her. You know, like the one that dumped oil all over Alaska and killed all that wildlife. The Condeleeza, it's called.

And you know who the biggest beneficiary of the Iraq occupation will be, besides Iran, of course? Why the oil companies. Let's talk about the lies leading up to Iraq, the 'smoking guns' and 'mushrooms clouds' -- the scare tactics, the propaganda, that she knew was outright, vicious lies.The thousands of maimed and dead american kids. All for the oil companies.

Condi pushers, show us her financial statements, her tax returns. Let's see how much she's profiting from this so-called war she helped start.

Bring it on.

Posted by: Drindl | July 13, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Interesting data from the LA Times poll, so thanks for posting it. If Romney is seen as having a religion problem, I wonder if a similar poll would ask if Condi speaking at the Southern Baptist convention in North Carolina is a favorable factor for her?

Andrea Mitchell was on Hardball and reported how powerfully Condi spoke to over 20,000 at the convention and Chris Matthews was equally impressed when Condi stated about the recent death of Zarquawi:
"He will never terrorize, he will never murder and he will never hurt people again, and that is what America stands for".

The audience was heard cheering for her fire and passion.

Now on the issue of Mitt Romney setting up a PAC in early states like S Carolina, as long as it done legally, then he can set up an office and hire people.

The grassroots effort promoting Condi has been getting some air time too. Did you see that former Marine lady on Fox and Friends on Tuesday? If not, you can go to to watch it.

The website has been buzzing ever since the Fox show. By coincidence, CNN made a major story about the DRAFT Condi effort and again, showing the Marine lady.

There are state chapters of Condi for President across the nation, as stated by Jessie. Sounds like they are organized and setting up the same kind of groups as Romney and other Republicans.

In my opinion, Condi Rice is worth millions in name ID, high job approval, and favored as a contender by Republicans. So with other groups on board promoting Condi, I think the Washington Post has been very fair in covering it since the Glenn Kessler story on July 4 and THE FIX blog about parsing the polls.

Yes, I can hear the Democrats and liberals coming into the chat room and complaining about me speaking up for Condi. But as someone said the other day, it is free speech. Romney is a good leader, and if the people want to support him, that is fine too. But at some point, the field of 14 or more Republicans needs to get whittled down a bit. Can you imagine that media groups will have to cover 14 Republicans and probably another 12 or 13 or 14 Democrats running for president? Are they enough media people to cover it? If you were around in 1999, there were 10 Republicans who had their names on the Iowa Straw poll in Ames during August. So the media needs to prepare to double their force in order to cover all the candidates. Yes? Or do they only send people if a candidate is at 10% in the national polls? I would like Cillizza to tell us how the media decides who they will cover in presidential races. Is that possible?

Posted by: Slim Girl in Pearls | July 13, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Barred? Do you really think most of our congresspeople or senators pay any attention whatsoever to laws anymore? Laws are for little people.

Posted by: Drindl | July 13, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

>>This may seem like a smart fundraising strategy, but of course, other candidates can beat out any gain Romney might make by simply doing the same thing.<<

Question is, are they allowed if they are congressmen or senators? I think they are barred from the multi-state approach?

Posted by: AeroFANatic | July 13, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This may seem like a smart fundraising strategy, but of course, other candidates can beat out any gain Romney might make by simply doing the same thing.

Posted by: Jason | July 13, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Romney 'seeding' South Carolina? C'mon Chris, don't you mean 'buying' South Carolina? Let's not mince words. Also, there seems to be an inordinate number of wealthy Utah citizens with an interest in South Carolina politics, doesn't there?

'Not a single contributor to the organization came from South Carolina.' So all this money being used to influence South Carolina politics is from out of state. Wonder how their voters feel about that?

' Romney's Mormon faith will allow him to tap a massive funding source not fully exploited by politicians in the past.'
Sorry, Chris, but I don't see how this is different from what Bush has done -- which is to exploit an even more massive and well-organized funding source --evangelical christians.

Posted by: Drindl | July 13, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Romney's strategy reminds me of how Jon Corzine won the 2000 Democratic Senate primary in NJ.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | July 13, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

here is a link referencing the above mentioned poll - I will say now that I have read how the poll was conducted - I find little to no credibility in the poll - obviously in a nationwide poll not limited to republicans, the candidate which most looks like a conservative republican is not going to do well.

This poll is a great example of how the press uses bogus polls to paint false pictures.

I will use this poll in my government class as an example of bad polling designed to manipulate and not inform,0,4806405.story?coll=la-home-headlines

BObby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | July 13, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Within the last several days there was a poll of hypothetical candidates - the best candidate in terms of the conservative values was a Mormon - no names were mentioned in the poll - just issue profiles - of all of the hypothetical candidates - the Mormon received the least amount of support among the polled Republicans.

It says a lot about the Republicans when they would rather elect someone who does not represent their values, than elect a Mormon who does represent their values.

I will concede a name behind the hypothetical candidate could change the numbers.

I just found this poll interesting

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | July 13, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

So Romney can raise money to obtain political "chits" and to package himself. What about his agenda. Or will the winning presidential candidates be the highest bidders? Hillary vs Mitt. Sad if true. And if true, then our votes hardly matter.

Posted by: Truth Hunter | July 13, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

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