Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has tapped business, religious, even family ties to build his fundraising network, a USA TODAY analysis shows.His fundraisers include dozens of current and former executives of the consulting and private-equity firms he ran. Republican stalwarts, including former U.S. ambassador to Belgium Sam Fox, have joined the fundraising circuit. Romney’s brother, Scott, is a national finance chairman.
Fox, a St. Louis businessman, said President Obama doesn’t have the experience to right the U.S. economy. Romney, by contrast, has “been successful at every problem he’s taken on,” said Fox, who said he had his assistants check Romney’s career in 2005 when the then-Massachusetts governor sought Fox’s support for his first presidential bid.
Fox has donated $190,000 to a pro-Romney super PAC, but won’t say how much he has raised.
Dozens more Romney fundraisers are fellow Mormons, such as JetBlue founder David Neeleman. He said Romney’s long volunteer service — overseeing a local congregation as a Mormon bishop and later as a stake president presiding over several congregations — demonstrates his kindness. His duties ranged from managing budgets to spiritual counseling.
“As a Mormon, I know what that entails,” Neeleman said. “You have to be very compassionate and loving. When people say he’s out of touch because he’s rich … I’d like to see them give that kind of service.”
Among Romney’s backers: a Georgia executive listed as a host of a fundraising event for Romney a month after the Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of insider trading. On Jan. 9, the SEC filed a civil complaint against Parker “Pete” Petit, alleging he tipped off a friend to the impending sale of Matria Healthcare, where Petit was CEO. On Feb. 8, Petit was on the host committee for a Romney fundraiser at the W Hotel in Atlanta. He gave $2,500 to Romney on Feb. 6.
Petit, who has denied wrongdoing, did not return phone calls. His lawyer, Aaron Danzig, said the SEC targeted “an innocent business executive.”
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