On the campaign trail, Republican candidate Mitt Romney often touts his stewardship of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Utah, which he took over following a massive bribery scandal. In a series of new articles, longtime investigative reporter Wayne Barrett reveals Romney may have violated the new ethics rules he put in place. Today, Romney continues to accept campaign contributions from many key figures tied to the bribery scandal. Barrett, a Newsweek/Daily Beast contributor and a fellow at The Nation Institute, joins us to discuss his findings. [...]
AMY GOODMAN: Great to have you with us. So, tell us, who are Mitt Romney’s friends, and how do they relate to the Olympics, which is one of the few things on his résumé that he is really touting as his—to show why he would be qualified to be president?
WAYNE BARRETT: When your producer called me yesterday, I said, "Well, with all the gaffes, I think he’s going to give up even this part of his résumé." There are three pillars. He’s given up Massachusetts. Bain has been taken away from him. So the last thing on the résumé is the Salt Lake Olympics. And I thought he embarrassed himself. He got a gold for gaffes in London, and he embarrassed himself so badly, I didn’t think he’d be stressing this. And voilà, a few hours after I talked with your producer, they put up this ad. So, he’s got—he’s got a very weakened résumé.
And let’s give him full credit for what happened in Salt Lake. I think he was a managerial success. I think he overstates what he achieved there, but I think he was a managerial success. The problem is that he was brought in because of the worst Olympic scandal in history, and he befriended and awarded contracts to people deeply involved in the scandal that caused him to be recruited to this rescue operation. And he’s still collecting money from them.
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- Amy Goodman
- Arrest Warrant
- Barack Obama
- Campaign Contributions
- Current TV
- David Koch
- David Plouffe
- Democracy Now
- Dick Cheney
- Ed Schultz
- Election 2012
- George Stephanopoulos
- John Nichols
- Jonathan Turley
- Keith Olbermann
- Ken Salazar
- Melanie Sloan
- Mitt Romney
- Salt Lake City Olympics
- Wayne Barrett
- david vitter
- ethics violations
- offshore oil drilling
- pay raise
White House senior adviser David Plouffe on Tuesday explained that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had raised massive amounts of money in June because rich people were "trying to purchase the White House."
During an interview on ABC, host George Stephanopoulos asked Plouffe if President Barack Obama was on track to lose after Romney raised $35 million more than him last month.
"Money matters in politics," Plouffe said. "We're running a great campaign. We have millions of volunteers out there registering voters, donating 25 or 50 dollars. But you have to have enough money to run and win your campaign."
"And our big concern is these super PACs," he added. "You've got a few wealthy people lining up trying to purchase the White House for Mr. Romney."
Over the weekend, Romney raised millions of dollars in a single day by holding three fundraisers at the homes of wealthy donors in the Hamptons, including a mansion owned by conservative billionaire David Koch.
"I don't think the common person is getting it," one donor reportedly said. "[M]y college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact."
Countdown's Keith Olbermann talked to CREW's Melania Sloan about their recent ethics complaint against Louisiana Senator David Vitter, this time for attempting to bribe Secretary Ken Salazar by tying his pay raise to approving permits for offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Raw Story has more -- Watchdog: Sen. Vitter tried to ‘bribe’ Sec. Salazar with pay raise:
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) may have gone too far when he demanded President Barack Obama's Interior secretary approve deepwater oil well permits in exchange for a salary increase.
CREW filed a complaint (PDF) Tuesday calling for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate Vitter for bribery.
In a May 23 letter (PDF) to Secretary Ken Salazar, Vitter was clear that he would not vote for a pay raise until the Department of Interior began issuing six deepwater exploratory permits each month.
"Last Friday, I was asked to support legislation in the Senate to grant you a nearly $20,000 salary increase," Vitter wrote. "Given the completely unsatisfactory pace of your department's issuance of new deepwater exploratory permits in the Gulf, I cannot possibly give my assent."
"[W]hen the rate of permits issued for new deepwater exploratory wells reaches pre-moratorium levels (so 6 per month), I will end my efforts to block your salary increase."
For his part, Salazar quickly turned down the offer, asking that the pay bill be withdrawn. [...]
The federal bribery statute states that "[w]hoever directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official... to influence any official act" could faces fines, up to two years in prison or both.
Vitter's office has dared the Justice Department to file charges.
"I urge the Obama administration to prosecute," Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar told Politico. "They'll make fools of themselves in court and make my boss a Louisiana folk hero at the same time."
"Whether it is a defense contractor buying French furniture for a congressman in exchange for earmarks, or a senator who ties a department secretary’s pay raise to approving permits, bribery is bribery," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement Tuesday.
I don't expect this to go anywhere, but a person can dream, can't they? I guess we'll see if the Obama administration steps in to interfere with this case as well. Headline here and more from Raw Story: Nigeria to charge Dick Cheney in $180 million bribery case, issue Interpol arrest warrant:
The energy services company Dick Cheney ran prior to becoming Vice President of the United States was atop the tongue of liberals each time it was awarded a contract in Iraq.
Now the company's name, Halliburton, is being spoken somewhere else: Nigeria.
According to a story filed late Wednesday, Cheney will be indicted in a Nigerian bribery case as part of an investigation into an alleged $180 million bribery scandal.
"Last week, Nigeria arrested at least 23 officials from companies including Halliburton, Saipem, Technip and a former subsidiary of Panalpina Welttransport Holding AG in connection with alleged illegal payments to Nigerian officials. Those detained were all freed on bail on Nov. 29," Bloomberg News' Elisha Bala-Gbogbo wrote.
"Authorities in the West African nation are probing Halliburton, Saipem and Technip for the alleged payment of $180 million in bribes to win a $6 billion liquefied natural-gas contract," Bala-Gbogbo added. "Panalpina is being investigated for illegal payments it allegedly made to Nigerian customs officials on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell Plc."
Go read the rest and The Nation's John Nichols joined Ed Schultz in the clip above to briefly discuss the case.
UPDATE: And here's more from Jonathan Turley who appeared on Countdown tonight.