Mitt Romney Has Now Raised More Than $3.6 Billion In His Lifetime

mitt romney bain capital

Photo: Bain Capital/Boston Globe

Romney has a skill, and it’s a crucial one.Throughout his life, he’s been able to convince hundreds, if not thousands, of people to give him money on the promise that it will be used for an eventual good or gain.

The final count? Mitt Romney has raised something to the tune of $3.61 billion in his lifetime. 

He’s responsible for turning the booster club for his alma mater, Brigham Young University, into a major alumni donor network. He raised hundreds of millions in capital for a top private equity firm, collected tons of money to save the 2002 Olympic games, and has raised money for dozens of multimillion-dollar political campaigns. 

All of this would appear to make Romney one of the greatest, most prolific fundraisers in history.

But while convincing people to give you money is an undoubtedly important skill — and one that’s helpful to have when running for higher office — its utility ends on Election Day. It’s not like presidents need to convince their friends to loan the Treasury cash. 

Here, we look at just how incredible Mitt Romney is at fundraising, and how he’s managed to convince people to fund his work for his entire life.

Romney started fundraising when he was at Brigham Young University as president of the Cougar Club

When Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984, he needed money — and raised $37 million

Formed in 1984 as a spinoff of Bain & Company, Bain Capital needed seed money to begin its private equity business. As CEO, Mitt Romney raised

In the end, Romney was highly successful, raising $37 million with help from Bain & Co. co-founder Bill Bain. According to the LA Times, some investors included El Salvadorian expatriate families who had fled that country's civil war, amounting to $9 million of the $37 million.

The families, described by the Huffington Post as 'oligarchs' in El Salvador, were in Miami during the mid eighties while their homeland was in crisis and were receptive to Romney's pitch because they wanted a safe place to keep their fortunes.

Source: Bain Capital

Over the next 15 years, Romney helped raise hundreds of millions for additional Bain Capital funds

As the head of Bain Capital, Romney raised money for five additional Bain Capital funds before leaving to run the Salt Lake City Olympics in 1999. That included raising $106 million for a second fund in 1987, $60 million for Bain's Fund III in 1989, $300 million for Fund IV in 1993, $500 million for Fund V in 1995, and a whopping $1.2 billion for Fund IV in 1998.

Source: Bain Capital

In 1994, he raised at least $4 million for his Senate campaign

After loaning himself $3 million to run for Senate against Democrat Ted Kennedy in the 1994, Romney convinced his friends and fellow Massachusetts Republicans to give a combined $4 million to his campaign.

Convincing other people to give you $4 million in order to win an office is distinctly different than convincing investors to give you control of money with an interest in eventually returning it with profits. But for Romney, the transition was seamless. Despite losing the 1994 race, the experience proved Romney could get people to bet on him and him alone.

Source: Boston Globe

As the head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney convinced the government to give him $300 million for the Games

When Romney took over the management of the Olympics in 1999, the games were hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole.

He personally convinced sponsors to stay on for the event, then later recruited new ones. The budget for the games was close to $1.3 billion.

One of his biggest successes was convincing the federal government to give him $300 million to beef up security for the games after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Source: Deseret News

Romney also convinced the government to allocate $1.1 billion for federal highway funds that indirectly helped the Games

All told, the government gave $600 million directly to the Games, but Romney also convinced them to speed up the payment of $1.1 billion in federal highway funds.

According to the Deseret News:

An additional $1.1 billion was planned for projects like roads and bridges, infrastructure improvement projects that the government assumed would have paid for eventually, though the timing of the games may have sped up the construction.

Source: Deseret News

In 2004, he raised $4 million for his run for governor

In 2002, Romney collected a combined $10 million for his gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts. Six million of that was his own money, but he tapped the familiar donors once again to promote his bid for office.

Source: Boston Globe

In 2008, he raised $110 million for his presidential run

During his first presidential run, Romney managed to raise $110 million before dropping out during the Republican primary.

Of that amount, $45 million was Romney's own money. By then, Romney had constructed a personal political brand after his stint as governor, and as head of the Republican Governors Association, and he was able to tap into a large and generous donor base for the other $65 million.

Source: centre for Responsive Politics

Between 2008 and 2012, his Free & Strong America PAC raised $14.5 million

After losing his 2008 primary bid, Romney didn't let his fundraising muscles atrophy. Instead, he formed a Leadership PAC, which allows politicians to raise money even when they aren't running for election.

This is used to build relationships with party allies, and is a crucial tool for consolidating support in partisan elections like party leadership elections and primaries.

Essentially, Romney's Free and Strong America PAC was a continuation of his presidential campaign, building up a political network by supporting Republican candidates in the lead-up to his 2012 presidential bid. The PAC raised $2.3 million for Republicans in 2008, $9.1 million in 2010, and $3.1 million in the 2012 cycle, according to the centre for Responsive Politics.

Source: centre for Responsive Politics

This election, he's raised $279 million for his election campaign.

Romney has been a powerhouse fundraiser this cycle, using his vast experience to rally donors to give hundreds of millions of dollars to his side.

In this election so far, Romney has raised $279 million, according to the centre for Responsive Politics, mostly from big ticket donors. His reliable donor base has never been this large before.

Source: centre for Responsive Politics

His affiliated Super PAC Restore our Future has also raised $96.7 million

Romney's brand has also raked in dough through unaffiliated organisations supporting his campaign.

Some of his high-loyalty donors have dug deep for the SuperPAC Restore Our Future, which has raised $96.7 million to run ads supporting Romney's presidential bid and tearing down his opponent, President Barack Obama.

Source: centre for Responsive Politics

By this count, Romney has raised at least $3.61 billion

If you add up each of these estimates and figures -- the BYU fundraising goal, the Bain funds during Romney's time as chief executive, the four campaigns and federal funding for the Olympics -- Mitt Romney has compelled other people to give him something to the order of $3.61 billion over the course of his life.

He's staked his credibility on ensuring positive returns on these funds, either in the form of profit, a successful event, or a Romney administration.

Whether or not he can maintain that rate of success this election remains to be seen.

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