Romney Gives Donors Added Access

Major donors to Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign say that when they call, a response comes quickly. Emails are answered right away. Donors, many of them from the business world, are kept in the loop with weekly conference calls and special access to campaign strategists.

Major donors to Mitt Romney say he is setting a new standard for openness and inclusiveness for his financial backers. Neil King has details on The News Hub. Photo: Getty Images.

A prime example of the Romney team’s embrace of its biggest donors comes this weekend, when 300 or more of the campaign’s “founding members”—those who have given at least $50,000—gather in Park City, Utah, for two days of meetings with the candidate and his top campaign and policy advisers.

Some donors say it is a closer relationship than they have seen with past presidential candidates, and a sign that Mr. Romney sees interaction with the business world and wealthy donors as key to his campaign. For many, the sessions will be their first chance to rub shoulders with those who might fill top positions in a Romney administration and potential vice-presidential picks that include former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Associated PressCondoleezza Rice will be one of the attendees at the Utah event.

The Romney campaign declined to comment about the weekend events. It also has declined to disclose the names of its top bundlers, the people who gather contributions from a network of friends, business partners and associates—a stance that already is drawing criticism.

“When candidates for any office go into a private, secret meeting, it raises a whole host of questions usually having to do with money and politics,” said Ellen Miller, co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for transparency in politics. “Bundlers have far more sway over a candidate than individual people who give money do.”

President Barack Obama has jetted to a number of high-profile fundraising dinners, some of them at the homes of celebrities, including George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker, and he has invited big-name fundraisers to White House events. His campaign has disclosed the names of its bundlers.

Recently, the White House has tried to address the complaints of some big bundlers that Mr. Obama hadn’t extended courtesies major donors expect. At a state dinner in March honoring British Prime Minister David Cameron, no fewer than 40 bundlers were among the guests. And the president made a point to stop at all 14 tables last month when he attended the event at Mr. Clooney’s home.

A number of big donors who will attend Mr. Romney’s weekend event described his organization as responsive to their questions about the state of the campaign and on the candidate’s policy positions on issues such as taxation and foreign policy.

One attendee, longtime GOP fundraiser Fred Malek, who has been active in campaigns going back to the Reagan era, described the Romney organization as “the most inclusive campaign in recent history.”

Part of the Utah retreat will focus on deploying a plan to raise more money than the Obama campaign, which the Romney camp and related committees did for the first time in May. “They realize they’re up against the most prolific fundraiser in American history,” said Brian Ballard, one of Mr. Romney’s finance co-chairmen in Florida.

According to an agenda for the event, the first day includes sessions on banking, education and oil and gas. Attendees on Saturday will receive a 90-minute briefing on the state of the campaign from more than a dozen of Mr. Romney’s top advisers, including campaign manager Matt Rhoades, who rarely travels beyond the campaign’s Boston headquarters.

On hand will be a number of former officials from the last two Republican administrations, including former White House adviser Karl Rove and two former secretaries of state, James Baker and Condoleezza Rice. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, tapped to head Mr. Romney’s transition team, will also attend.

The retreat will bring Mr. Romney back to familiar territory. He owned a vacation home for years in the town, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics that Mr. Romney helped salvage.

On Friday evening, guests will attend dinner and reception with Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, at the Utah Olympic Park. The following day, Mrs. Romney will host a “Women for Romney Victory Tea” alongside figure skating champion Dorothy Hamill.

Sunday is reserved for a golf outing at Red Ledges, a private community that boasts: “Here you can live a life others have only heard about.”

—Peter Nicholas contributed to this article.

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Posted on June 22, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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